How did we come up with this data?
This comparison is based on publicly available data on the percentage profitability of retail CFD accounts for 2020. Publishing of this data is mandatory for brokerage companies operating in the EU and they have to include them as a part of so-called "disclaimers". These can be found on all marketing materials (online banners, emails, ebooks), but also in the footer on their website. One of the subchapters of this article focuses on how and where to find this data.
What does ESMA request?
Online Forex trading has come a long way since its wild unregulated beginnings, and while unregulated brokerage firms or those that are less tightly regulated can still be found, Forex traders of today can rely on a much greater degree of protection than their counterparts from the past.
The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) provides guidelines to regulators, for example, the Cypriot CySEC, and thereafter each regulator provides guidelines and restrictions to regulated firms. EU regulations are considered to be one of the strictest, caring for the protection of clients (retail traders) and guaranteeing them a high standard of security and transparency compared to other (for example, off-shore) regulators.
How regulation protects traders?
For example CySEC requires a number of guarantees and client protection mechanisms from brokerage companies, below are some of the main ones.
Negative balance protection
If a trader loses more money than he had in his trading account due to an accident, adverse market fluctuations, or leverage, he/she does not have to worry about possible debt. Thanks to the new guidelines, retail traders cannot lose more money than they put into their account, if they get into the red, the debt incurred must be paid by the broker.
Segregation of client bank accounts
In the early days of online Forex trading, we could often witness many fraudulent brokerage companies using their clients’ funds to enrich themselves or pay for operating expenses. Brokerage companies operating in the EU must therefore deposit all client funds in bank accounts, segregated from the company's funds, and insured against bankruptcy. This way, traders have fewer things to worry about.
Disclosure of loss rate of client accounts
Every 3 months, brokerage companies must publish the loss rate of their clients' trading accounts. This is stated as a percentage and is placed in small print on each advertising banner, image, or other promotional material. You can also find it in the footer on the brokers' websites in the so-called "Disclaimer" (see picture).
Figure 1: Percentage of profitability of client accounts in the footer of Purple Trading websites