The forex marketplace is an exclusively digital venue offering individuals from around the globe an opportunity to trade currencies remotely via internet connectivity. It is by far world's largest marketplace, facilitating over US$5 billion in trade on a daily basis.
Such vast levels of participation are attributed to favourable market conditions and low barriers of entry. All that is needed to begin trading on the forex marketplace is an internet connection, capital, computing capabilities and a trading platform.
Perhaps the most important of these inputs is the trading platform, which is a software suite that gives individuals the ability to access and interact with the market. It is an indispensable tool, one that makes both analysis and active trading possible.
To put it simply, the platform is the trader's portal to the market.
Characteristics Of The Trading Platform
A truly great platform offers robust functionality through a user-friendly format. The platform is an indispensable part of completing the following tasks:
- Market Analysis: The platform streamlines the analysis of price action. Charting capabilities, indicators and other technical tools are included within the software.
- Trade Execution: Entering and exiting the market in a number of ways is made possible by the platform.
- Strategy Development: Backtesting, system optimisation and historical data analysis are features typically included in the platform's functionality.
Forex trading is a highly competitive and fast-paced arena. In order to keep from falling behind, one must identify and employ the platforms that combine leading-edge technology with innovative flexibility. Trading Station, MetaTrader 4 (MT4), NinjaTrader and ZuluTrade are industry leaders in the provision of forex trading platforms.
To decide on the best platform we took the following consideration into account:
- Functionality: A solid platform must combine cutting-edge technology with a user-friendly interface. The result is a robust, powerful trading suite.
- Latency: In the contemporary forex market, speed is a commodity. Top-tier platforms eliminate unwarranted latencies in the areas of data-streaming and order entry. In doing so, they enhance the efficiency of the entire trading process.
- Advanced Features: Today's forex trader is more dependent than ever on technical analysis. The best trading software should be equipped with a diverse array of tools and indicators, a multitude of charting alternatives and customisation options.
- Cost: At FXCM, we feel that elite platforms should be affordable. The low cost structure leaves more capital for the addition of third-party add-ons, strategic development and actual trade execution.
Trading Station is FXCM's proprietary, flagship platform that furnishes users with an abundance of options for both analysis and execution. It is a solid choice for traders of all experience levels, from novice to expert.
Trading Station provides award-winning functionality in the following areas:
- Charting: Advanced analytical options are readily accessible including the professional charting suite Marketscope and Real Volume indicators. In addition, the Chart Trader and a wide variety of pre-programmed technical tools are available.
- Automation: Customisable trade automation is included in the Trading Station software suite. Also, backtest and optimise any strategy quickly and automatically.
- Order Entry: Multiple order types for market entry and exit are readily at hand.
- Accessibility: Trading Station is available via download, web or mobile application.
|An abundance of technical tools and indicators, complimentary access with live account, low latency and ideal trade execution||Not designed for social trading, not available in U.S., some trading restrictions apply|
MetaTrader 4 (MT4)
MT4 is considered by many to be the industry standard in forex trading. Boasting one of the largest user bases in the forex industry, it supplies users with the technology to accomplish any trading objective.
MT4 offers a collection of unique services to enhance both analytics and trade execution:
- MT4 Trading System: An extensive variety of orders for market entry and exit make customising trade management strategies convenient. Three distinct execution modes promote adaptability and performance.
- Algorithmic Trading: The proprietary Expert Advisors and broad collection of indicators are valuable tools for custom strategy development.
- Trading Signals: MT4's signals support social trading functionality. More than 3,200 free and commercial signals are available for use.
- Accessibility: MT4 is available through download, web or mobile application.
|Compatible with all EAs, no trading restrictions, universally accessible||Trade execution varies from Trading Station, many EAs come with an additional cost|
NinjaTrader is a popular choice among futures, equities and forex traders. Featuring advanced analytics coupled with affordability, it is an all-inclusive software trading platform. With more than 40,000 users worldwide, the NinjaTrader community offers top-tier support and customer service.
Below are few of the premier features offered by NinjaTrader:
- Strategy Builder: Construct fully customised strategies without a programming background using the Strategy Wizard. Tech savvy traders may code their own strategies using the C# based NinjaScript.
- Market Analyser: NinjaTrader's Market Analyser is a real-time quote sheet that can be tailored to an individual's needs. It is a dynamic way of scanning multiple products for opportunity.
- Market Replay: Market Replay is a unique way of viewing the market in a delayed fashion. It enables traders to view the price action of past sessions and practice specific trades or test ideas in live market conditions.
- Accessibility: NinjaTrader offers connectivity via download.
|Basic features free to use, advanced technical tools and indicators, strategy-building tools available||Limited accessibility, unique programming language (NinjaScript), cost associated with automated trade management (ATM)|
A pioneer in the arena of "social trading," ZuluTrade presents individuals with a method of consulting and copying the trades of other traders in real-time. ZuluTrade is an attractive alternative for individuals who are just starting out or those who simply do not have the time to fully engage the forex market.
ZuluTrade is a unique platform with several distinct features:
- Full Automation: ZuluTrade gives users the ability to automatically execute the trades of other traders, customise risk management or create custom alerts.
- Observe: With TradeWall and the Top Traders spreadsheet, it's easy to select an approach to the market according to performance and suitability.
- Interact And Learn: The ZuluTrade blog is a valuable educational tool. Learn about indicators, strategies and market basics. A virtual trading floor is available to interact with signal providers and other participants from around the globe.
- Accessibility: ZuluTrade is available via download, web and mobile application.
|Social-trading connectivity, full automation, ideal for peer-to-peer education||Subscription costs, increased trade-related latencies, past-performance of signal providers not indicative of future results|
Which Platform Is The Best?
Being able to analyse the market in real-time, execute trades efficiently and develop new strategies are key aspects of achieving longevity in the marketplace. Selecting the platform that is best suited for the trading operation's needs is a big part of maximising the chance of success.
So, which platform is the best? The question is largely subjective and will depend upon whom is giving the answer. Each of the above software trading platforms is unique, excelling in specific areas of functionality.
Designating a best platform is a personal question, based upon specific needs and preferences.
Here is a general breakdown of where each excels:
- Trading Station: The pinnacle in forex connectivity, trade execution
- MetaTrader 4: Widely supported among forex brokers
- NinjaTrader: Cost effective, easily adaptable to futures and equities products
- ZuluTrade: A premier social trading destination
Depending on the available resources, style and market goals, the determination of a best platform will differ. However, no matter the type or size of trader, one of the aforementioned platforms can optimise performance while enhancing the overall market experience.
This article was last updated on 5 May 2021.
Senior Market Specialist
Russell Shor (MSTA, CFTe, MFTA) is a Senior Market Specialist at FXCM. He joined the firm in October 2017 and has an Honours Degree in Economics from the University of South Africa and holds the coveted Certified Financial Technician and Master of Financial Technical Analysis qualifications from the International Federation…