Forex Market - Beginners Guide

Beginners Guide to Getting Started in the Forex Market

Many of you have traded stocks, mutual funds, and maybe even futures before. The Forex market is relatively similar to these markets; however, I would like to cover some key differences that you should be aware of before you begin trading in the Forex market.

Getting Started - Pick a Broker

I am sure many of you have seen hundreds of ads over the internet from Forex brokers trying to earn your business. There so many to chose and you need to get answer to a few key questions before you go with any one broker.


The Forex spread, which is similar to the difference between the bid and ask in the equities market, is calculated in pips. Unlike the equity markets where you can place limit orders to buy at bid or the ask or even between, the Forex market allows you to execute at only one price, the ask. It is basically the same as only being able to execute market orders in equities or futures. The "spread" in the Forex market is how the brokers make their money. They do not charge any commission. Therefore, it is imperative that you search for brokers who offer the best spreads.

Reputation of the Firm

Forex market brokers offer massive leverage to their clients and therefore require backing from large banks and other financial institutions. Make sure your Forex broker is registered with the FCM, or the Futures Commission Merchant. Also make sure that the broker is regulated by the CFTC, or the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. This information should be readily available on the brokers website. It is important that you verify this information before opening an account with the broker. Also, search around for feedback regarding some brokers that you are interested in opening an account in. If they have committed any "shady" acts, it will be documented on the internet.

Leverage Options

Leverage in the Forex market is necessary to make any significant profits. This is because currency pairs move in small fractions and require large investment amounts to make any significant profits. Most brokers offer 100 times margin while some may go as high as 250 times. Obviously, the greater the risk, the greater the reward and so goes the same on the opposite side. If you have limited funds for investment into the Forex market, find a reliable broker who offers higher leverage.

Be careful of brokers who have stringent margin rules. Remember, margin is borrowed money and that means that the broker has a vested in interest in how your trading is working out. Therefore, in some cases, brokers will liquidate positions in your Forex account at their discretion, even if you have enough cash on hand to cover the drawdown. Ask them how they handle this situation. The last thing you want is to be surprised that your brokers rules don't allow you to trade in the way you want to.

The "Extras"

As we suggested in our forex trading introduction, it is a good thing to paper trade the Forex market before you go in with real money. Every market trades a little different and it would be wise to get used to this market first. Many brokers offer free tools that will allow you to open practice trading accounts and trade with live market data. This is a great feature to look for in a broker. Remember, you are implicitly paying your broker quite a bit of money when you place trades through them. Make sure to get your moneys worth! Most of the top brokers in the Forex market offer free real time charts and news and common technical analysis tools. Some trading platforms, such as Tradestation, offer clients the ability to create automated trading strategies to back test their trading systems and also to automate a trading strategy to run on its own without any human intervention.

I have found this resource a great place to start in your search for your Forex broker:

Trading the Forex Market

As in equity or futures markets, technical and fundamental analysis become the cornerstone of your analysis; however, technical analysis is far more prevalent. There are far more automated trading systems in Forex markets than there are in equities and futures.

From a fundamental point of view; traders will rely heavily on a few key reports: Retail Sales, Durable Goods, Fed interest rate decisions, CPI Index (Consumer Price Index), Non- Farms payrolls, and the PMI (Purchasing Managers Index). Keep an economic calendar handy to stay on top of these news events. They cannot be ignored, even if you are a technical analyst.

From a technical analysis point of view, price and volume analysis is key. Most prevalent in the Forex market is Fibonacci studies, RSI studies, Parabolic SAR, and Elliot Wave to name a few. Many traders will experiment to figure out which trading system fits their personality. This takes time and patience. Remember, paper trade your account until you become proficient at trading the Forex market. They make it very easy for you to practice.

Tim Ord
Ord Oracle

Tim Ord is a technical analyst and expert in the theories of chart analysis using price, volume, and a host of proprietary indicators as a guide...
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