GFT Markets CFDs Platform Review

GFT Global Markets is the United Kingdom division of Global Futures & Forex Ltd., a private USA company which was established in 1997 by founder and now CEO Gary L. Tilkin, (who grew it from a small futures business he started in his basement) to trade foreign exchange. The company has since expanded globally with offices in Michigan, Chicago, New York, Tokyo, London, Dubai, Singapore and, since 2005, Sydney.

GFT Global was launched in 2006 to offer both U.K. and international customers a financial CFDs, spread betting and foreign exchange trading service. Based in the Canary Wharf development of London, GFT Global Markets UK Ltd. is a wholly owned subsidiary of the leading U.S. forex and futures dealing firm Global Futures & Forex, Ltd, and is related to the online forex dealing firm Global Forex Trading. GFT Global Markets UK Ltd. is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

It is reported that on average, GFT's revenue has grown more than 85 per cent per annum for the past five years.

General Points

  1. GFT Global Markets UK Ltd. is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.
  2. GFT offers CFDs in over 2,900 financial markets including more than 120 currency pairs and indices from 26 countries. Many indices are quoted 24 hours a day, 5.5 days a week. That means you have more opportunities to trade with a vast selection of markets.
  3. GFT lists some small caps traded on the SETSmm platform as well as all FTSE 350 constituents. It requires an initial margin rate of 10% for FTSE 350 stocks and 25% for those listed on AIM.
  4. The trading platform is developed on GFT's core Global Futures and Forex platform originally developed for the USA market. Three trading platforms are available: DealBook® 360 for home (downloadable software), DealBook® WEB to access your account from any computer with an internet connection and DealBook® Mobile to access from your mobile device. You can use one platform or all of them without any administrative charges.
  5. GFT is a market maker so prices are based on the underlying market although GFT like other maker maker CFD providers do not give exact criteria. This is not a company to use if you want to trade the news (forex). No slippage except in fast moving markets when dealing from price ticket.
  6. DealBook® 360 is a completely customisable interface and includes free integrated currency commentary and analysis from leading sources and subscription-based trading signals and forecasts; charts; advanced risk-management tools including automated trailing stops and parent and contingent orders.
  7. Chart Studio®, a free charting software add-on for spot forex which enables traders to build custom indicators, test trading strategies, and create automated trading systems (ATS).
  8. Note that the Depth 360 (which is still work in progress) only shows internal orders made by other GFT clients and does not display Level 2 prices.
  9. CFD positions keep rolling without profits/losses crystallising every day (with the financing adjustment being applied each night) Spread bets on the other hand close and re-open again every night and therefore the profit/loss is realised each night. There is no spread each time however.
  10. Guaranteed stops are available on all indices (for an extra charge) and many indices are quoted 24 hours a day, even when the underlying market is closed.
  11. A free 30-day trial demo account with delayed prices (delayed by 15 minutes) is available which is great to check their platform out. The demo account will be made permanent if you have a real-money account with GFT, thereby allowing you to test strategies/systems out on a trial basis.
  12. GFT regularly runs seminars on spread betting and CFDs to help you understand how to start trading financial markets.
  13. GFT allows API access for spread betting/CFDs for both their forex/CFD offering (offered in Win32, Java and .net) although it is not the easiest to work with. Also, apparently you need to fund the account with EUR10,000 to get access to the API.
  14. CFD inflation futures are an original product exclusively from GFT that offer you the opportunity to speculate on short to mid-term inflation rates and manage your own exposure to inflation

What I like

  1. The Dealbook Platform is quite advanced and can be customised, but what really got my attention with GFT UK were the tight spreads. Just one-point spreads on the U.K. FTSE, German DAX and French CAC during the peak trading hours of 8:05 to 16:30 London time. Some forex spreads are as low as one pip...
  2. Margins are low - you can trade some CFDs with margins as low at 0.5%.
  3. Free customisable software with one-click trading. Fills seem to vary between 'instant' and around 5 seconds or so. All stops so far filled at the stop price (I don't hold positions through news events so this is for periods when the price is not moving very quickly).
  4. Highly sophisticated free integrated chart package and is ideal for currency trading. You can even place orders directly from the charts, as well as edit your trades directly on the charting interface.
  5. DealBook® 360 offers over 100 free technical tools and indicators*, including Fibonacci retracement, MACD, Gann Fan, ABCD tool, Andrews’ Pitchfork and more. In addition to the free tools, GFT offers a variety of subscription-based technical tools, such as Dynamic Trend Profile, DiNapoli D-Levels™, Foresight-A.I.™ and Autochartist to help you determine potential high-probability trends. For instance DiNapoli D-Levels is a technical analysis tool that helps to eliminate subjectivity when identifying Fibonacci support and resistance levels while Foresight-A.I is a market-timing indicator that forecasts the times when daily highs and lows may be reached. Autochartist on the other hand is able to scan different currency pairs automatically looking for potential trade opportunities. It does this by analysing charts for more than 15 of the most regularly occuring patterns like double tops and bottoms, fibonacci patterns, flags, head and shoulders and triangles.
  6. Very wide range of market orders available: Market Orders, Limit Orders, Stop Loss Orders (normal), Guaranteed Stop Loss Orders, Contingent Orders, If Then Orders, Pair Trade Orders, Order Cancels Order (Straddle and Bracket Orders), Trailing Stop Orders, Chart Line Orders, Market on Close (Time Orders).
  7. Fundamental traders will enjoy real-time streaming news from Dow Jones Newswires* and Informa Global Markets, as well as the ability to add customised RSS feeds.
  8. Good customer service (including live chat) and execution.

What I dislike

  1. GFT don't offer DMA which is their only downside if you trade equities. Also, they do not provide volume detail.
  2. Minimum initial deposit is quite substantial at $2500 or equivalent which is about £1550.
  3. There is an inactivity fee of USD50 (or currency equivalent), if you don't deal once in 60 days.
  4. GFT operate on bid and ask prices which means that GFT could activate your orders based on bid and ask prices (not a problem if you are trading a liquid stock but can be dangerous for illiquid markets as there could be large gaps in the bid and ask prices without any trading being done). Using the bid and ask corridor for trades activation also means that if someone were to put a stock order in the order book but immediately proceed to cancel it before the order gets filled GFT will still use this bid/ask to trigger a stop loss or buy order. This practice seems normal for markets makers and even FXCM use this system.
  5. You might get the occasional e-mail or phone call asking you if you're ready to deposit funds. I know, it's their job, but I still don't like it.

Verdict

GFT are a relatively new comer on the scene but are already making strong inroads into the CFD market as well which augurs well for the future. Their software is quite advanced and this combined with low margins and spreads, especially on indices ensures a competitive offering.