Sterling Savvy

>

How to Trade Forex in the UK 2024

Tobi Opeyemi Amure
Reviewed by:
How to trade forex UK

In a nutshell, to trade Forex in the UK, first, open a trading account with a reputable, FCA-regulated broker. Next, deposit funds and use the broker’s trading platform to analyse currency pairs, employing tools like technical analysis or fundamental analysis. Finally, execute trades by buying or selling currency pairs, while managing risk with strategies such as stop-loss orders and setting realistic profit targets.

In the fast-paced world of global currency trading, the foreign exchange market (Forex) offers immense opportunities for investors.

With an estimated daily trading volume of over $7.5 trillion1, forex is the largest financial market worldwide.

If you’re in the UK and interested in delving into the world of forex trading, my article will guide you through the essential steps to get started and navigate the dynamic currency markets.

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide if you are short on time. Learn how to start trading forex in six steps:

  1. Select a currency pair: Choose from various FX markets, like major pairs (EUR/USD) or exotics (USD/TRY).
  2. Choose a trading method: Decide whether to trade on the spot market, CFDs, or use forex futures.
  3. Open and fund an account: Set up an account with a forex provider and deposit funds for trading.
  4. Decide to buy or sell: You can either go short or long in FX trading, predicting whether your chosen currency pair will rise or fall in value.
  5. Manage your risk: Implement a solid risk management strategy for currency market trading.
  6. Monitor and close trade: Keep track of your trade, then close the position to determine your total profit or loss.

How to Trade Forex in the UK?

To trade forex in the UK, you’ll first need to open an account with a Forex broker that is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), I recommend Plus500. Complete the required identity verification steps and deposit GBP or another accepted currency into your trading account. Once your account is set up and funded, you can start trading various currency pairs through the broker’s trading platform.

Top pick
Plus500 - Overall best trading platform
4.5

One of the fastest-growing trading platforms in the UK for CFD trading. Comprehensive for all levels of experience.

Pros:
  • Intuitive, user-friendly platform
  • Demo trading account & learning academy
  • Fast and responsive customer service
  • Trading tools & charts
82% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

What Is the Foreign Exchange Market?

As this is a beginner’s guide to trading forex, I’m going to start with the very basics.

The foreign exchange market, commonly known as forex or FX, is a decentralised global marketplace where currencies are bought and sold.

It serves as the backbone of international trade and investment, enabling individuals, businesses, and financial institutions to exchange one currency for another.

The forex market operates 24 hours a day, five days a week, and is renowned for its high liquidity, offering traders the opportunity to speculate on currency price movements and potentially profit from fluctuations in exchange rates.

Exchange Rates & Currency Pairs

Exchange rates and currency pairs are fundamental concepts in the world of forex trading.

An exchange rate represents the value of one currency relative to another. It indicates how much of one currency is needed to purchase a unit of another currency.

Exchange rates are influenced by various factors, including interest rates, economic performance, geopolitical events, and market sentiment.

Currency pairs are the quotation of one currency against another in the forex market. Each currency pair consists of a base currency and a quote currency.

For example, in the GBP/USD pair, the British pound (GBP) is the base currency, and the US dollar (USD) is the quote currency.

The exchange rate of a currency pair indicates the amount of quote currency required to buy or sell one unit of the base currency.

Understanding exchange rates and currency pairs is crucial for forex traders as they analyse and speculate on the price movements of different currency pairs to make informed trading decisions.

What’s the Aim of Forex Trading?

Forex trading aims to capitalise on fluctuations in exchange rates to generate profits.

Forex traders seek to buy a currency pair at a lower price and sell it at a higher price, taking advantage of the price movements in the market.

Traders can profit from both rising and falling markets by using various trading strategies, such as technical analysis, fundamental analysis, or a combination of both.

The ultimate goal of forex trading is to achieve consistent profitability by effectively predicting and capitalising on currency price movements.

However, it’s crucial to note that forex trading involves risks, and traders should employ proper risk management techniques, stay updated on market trends, and continuously enhance their trading skills to increase their chances of success.

Main Currency Pairs for Trading

The three main groups of currency pairs in forex trading are major pairs, minor pairs, and exotic pairs.

  1. Major Pairs: Major currency pairs consist of the most heavily traded and widely recognised currencies globally. These pairs include the US dollar (USD) paired with other major currencies such as the Euro (EUR), British pound (GBP), Japanese yen (JPY), Swiss franc (CHF), and Canadian dollar (CAD). Major pairs are characterised by high liquidity, tighter spreads, and typically attract significant market interest.
  2. Minor Pairs: Also known as Cross currency pairs, minor pairs do not involve the US dollar as one of the currencies. Instead, they consist of two major currencies other than the USD. Examples include Euro vs. British pound (EUR/GBP), Euro vs. Japanese yen (EUR/JPY), and British pound vs. Japanese yen (GBP/JPY). Minor pairs tend to have lower liquidity and wider spreads compared to major pairs.
  3. Exotic Pairs: Exotic currency pairs involve a major currency paired with a currency from an emerging or less frequently traded economy. These pairs can include currencies from countries like South Africa (ZAR), Brazil (BRL), Mexico (MXN), or Thailand (THB). Exotic pairs generally have lower liquidity, wider spreads, and higher volatility compared to major and minor pairs. Trading exotic pairs requires careful analysis and risk management due to their less predictable nature.

Understanding the classification of currency pairs helps identify the characteristics, liquidity, and potential trading opportunities associated with each group.

What Does the Spread Mean in Forex Trading?

In forex trading, the spread refers to the difference between the bid price and the ask price of a currency pair.

The bid price is the price at which the market is willing to buy a currency from you, while the ask price is the price at which the market is willing to sell a currency to you.

The spread represents the cost of executing a trade and is typically measured in pips, which is the smallest unit of price movement in the forex market.

The spread is determined by the liquidity and volatility of the currency pair, as well as the broker’s pricing model.

Brokers earn their profit by widening the spread slightly, effectively incorporating a transaction cost into each trade. Therefore, when entering a trade, the market price must move in favor of the trader by at least the amount of the spread for the trade to become profitable.

In summary, the spread is an essential concept in forex trading as it impacts the overall cost and potential profitability of trades.

You need to pay attention to the spread offered by their broker and consider it in their trading strategies and risk management.

What Does Leverage & Margin Mean in Forex Trading?

I also have mentioned the following terms, which I’ll quickly explain.

Leverage and margin are two important concepts in forex trading that allow traders to control larger positions in the market with a smaller amount of capital.

Here’s what they mean:

  • Leverage: Leverage is a tool provided by brokers that allows traders to trade larger positions than their account balance. It amplifies the potential gains or losses in a trade. For example, with a leverage ratio of 1:100, a trader can control a position size 100 times larger than their account balance. Leverage increases the trader’s buying power, enabling them to take advantage of small price movements. However, it also magnifies the risk, as losses can exceed the initial investment.
  • Margin: Margin refers to the portion of the trader’s capital that is required to open and maintain a leveraged position. It is a percentage of the total position size and acts as a collateral or security deposit for the trade. Margin requirements vary depending on the broker and the leverage chosen. For example, with a leverage ratio of 1:100, the required margin would be 1% of the total position size.

It’s essential to note that while leverage can amplify profits, it also increases the risk of losses. Traders should exercise caution and manage their risk effectively when using leverage.

Margin calls can occur when the account equity falls below a certain threshold, leading to the need for additional funds to maintain open positions.

Understanding leverage and margin is crucial for forex traders as they impact the size of trades and the capital requirements.

How to Trade Forex in the UK (Step-by-Step Guide)

Here’s my step-by-step guide on how to get started in the UK.

  1. Educate Yourself: Before diving into forex trading, it is crucial to educate yourself about the fundamentals of the forex market, including currency pairs, market participants, trading hours, and key factors influencing exchange rates. Familiarise yourself with basic terminology such as pips, lots, and leverage.
  2. Choose a Reliable Broker: Selecting a reputable forex broker is essential for a smooth trading experience. Look for a broker regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK, I recommend Plus500. Consider factors such as trading platform features, account types, customer support, and competitive spreads. Check out my guide for full reviews of the best forex brokers for beginners UK and the best forex trading apps UK.
  3. Open a Trading Account: Once you have chosen a broker, proceed to open a trading account. Complete the registration process, provide the necessary documentation for verification, and deposit funds into your account. Most brokers offer different account types to suit various trading preferences.
  4. Develop a Trading Strategy: Having a well-defined trading strategy is crucial for success in forex trading. Determine your trading goals, risk tolerance, and preferred trading style (e.g., day trading, swing trading, or long-term investing). Consider using technical and fundamental analysis techniques to identify potential trading opportunities.
  5. Practice with a Demo Account: Before risking real money, it is advisable to practice trading with a demo account provided by your broker. A demo account allows you to familiarise yourself with the trading platform, test your strategy, and gain confidence without risking any capital. Check out my guide for full reviews of the best demo trading accounts UK.
  6. Master Risk Management: Implementing effective risk management strategies is vital to protect your trading capital. Set appropriate stop-loss and take-profit levels for each trade. Avoid risking a significant portion of your account on a single trade, and consider using proper position sizing techniques.
  7. Start Trading: With a solid understanding of the market, a tested strategy, and risk management in place, you can start executing trades. Monitor the forex market for potential entry and exit points based on your analysis. Remember to stay disciplined and avoid emotional decision-making.
  8. Continuously Learn and Adapt: Forex trading is a dynamic and ever-evolving field. Stay updated with market news, economic indicators, and geopolitical events that can influence currency movements. Continuously educate yourself, learn from your trading experiences, and adapt your strategy as needed.
  9. Keep Records and Evaluate Performance: Maintain a trading journal to record your trades, including entry and exit points, reasons for the trade, and outcomes. Regularly evaluate your performance, identify strengths, and areas for improvement. Analyse your trading journal to refine your strategy over time.
  10. Seek Knowledge and Support: Expand your knowledge and skills by reading books, attending webinars, and engaging with online trading communities. Consider seeking guidance from experienced traders or joining trading courses to enhance your understanding and trading abilities.

Forex Trading Example

Let’s walk through a simple forex trading example to help clarify the process.

Currency Pair: EUR/USD

Imagine you’re interested in trading the EUR/USD currency pair, one of the most traded currency pairs in Forex. At the moment, the EUR/USD is trading at a bid price of 1.1000 and an ask price of 1.1002. The difference (0.0002) is known as the spread.

Direction: Buying (Going Long)

Let’s say your research leads you to believe that the Euro will strengthen against the U.S. dollar. To capitalise on this potential move, you decide to ‘buy’ or ‘go long’ on EUR/USD.

Position Size: 1 Standard Lot (100,000 units)

You decide to buy 1 standard lot, which is 100,000 units of the base currency (EUR).

Initial Investment and Leverage

Assuming your broker offers a leverage of 50:1, you would need an initial margin of 1/50th of the total trade size to open the position. For a standard lot of 100,000 units, this would mean an initial investment of 2,000 Euros (100,000 / 50).

Placing the Trade

You execute a buy order at the ask price of 1.1002. Your trade is now live.

Market Movement and Outcome

A few hours later, your prediction proves correct, and the EUR/USD rate rises to a bid price of 1.1050 and an ask price of 1.1052. You decide to close your position by selling at the new bid price of 1.1050.

Calculating Profit

The rate increased from 1.1002 to 1.1050, a rise of 0.0048, or 48 pips. Since you traded 1 standard lot of 100,000 units, each pip is worth $10.

Profit in pips = 48 pips
Profit in dollars = 48 pips x $10/pip = $480

You’ve made a profit of $480 on your initial margin investment of 2,000 Euros.

Closing the Trade

You close the position by executing a sell order at the new bid price of 1.1050. Your profit and loss are immediately reflected in your trading account.

And there you have it—a complete example of a forex trade from start to finish. Please note that leverage amplifies both potential profits and potential losses, and it’s essential to use it cautiously. Always be aware of the risks involved in Forex trading.

Choosing a Suitable Forex Broker

To expand on step number 2 above, here’s some guidance for picking a suitable forex broker and what to look out for.

  • Regulation and Security: Ensure that the broker is regulated by a reputable financial authority such as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK. Regulation helps protect your funds and ensures that the broker operates under strict guidelines.
  • Trading Platform: Assess the broker’s trading platform to ensure it is user-friendly, stable, and equipped with essential features for effective trading. Look for features such as real-time price charts, technical analysis tools, order types, and customizable interfaces.
  • Range of Currency Pairs: Check the broker’s offering of currency pairs. Look for a wide selection of major, minor, and exotic currency pairs to have more trading opportunities. The availability of the currency pairs you are interested in trading is crucial.
  • Spreads and Commissions: Compare the spreads and commissions charged by different brokers. Lower spreads mean lower trading costs, but consider other factors like execution quality and platform stability as well.
  • Leverage and Margin Requirements: Understand the broker’s leverage offering and margin requirements. Leverage allows you to amplify your trading position, but it also increases risk. Ensure that the broker offers leverage options suitable for your trading strategy and risk tolerance.
  • Account Types and Minimum Deposit: Check the available account types offered by the broker, such as standard accounts, mini accounts, or Islamic accounts. Consider the minimum deposit required to open an account and ensure it aligns with your budget.
  • Customer Support: Evaluate the broker’s customer support services. Look for brokers that provide responsive and helpful support through various channels such as live chat, phone, or email. Prompt and reliable customer support can be crucial, especially during trading hours.
  • Educational Resources: Consider the educational resources and research tools provided by the broker. Look for brokers that offer educational materials, webinars, market analysis, and trading guides to help enhance your trading knowledge and skills.
  • Deposit and Withdrawal Options: Check the available deposit and withdrawal methods offered by the broker. Ensure that the broker supports convenient and secure payment options that suit your preferences.
  • Reputation and Reviews: Research the broker’s reputation and read reviews from other traders. Consider feedback regarding the broker’s reliability, execution speed, customer service, and overall trading experience.
Top pick
Plus500 - Overall best trading platform
4.5

One of the fastest-growing trading platforms in the UK for CFD trading. Comprehensive for all levels of experience.

Pros:
  • Intuitive, user-friendly platform
  • Demo trading account & learning academy
  • Fast and responsive customer service
  • Trading tools & charts
82% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

Forex Trading Strategies

Before you start your journey into the world of forex trading, it’s good to have an understanding of a few strategies and methods of trading under your belt.

Here are explanations of some basic forex trading strategies:

  • Trend Trading: This strategy involves identifying and trading in the direction of prevailing market trends. Traders aim to enter positions when the market is trending up or down and hold onto them until the trend shows signs of reversal. Technical analysis tools like moving averages and trendlines can help identify trends.
  • Range Trading: Range trading involves identifying horizontal price levels where the market tends to trade within a defined range. Traders look for opportunities to buy at the lower boundary (support) and sell at the upper boundary (resistance). Range trading is effective in markets that lack clear trends.
  • Breakout Trading: Breakout trading involves entering a trade when the price breaks out of a defined price range or a significant level of support or resistance. Traders anticipate that the breakout will lead to a sustained move in the direction of the breakout. Breakout traders use technical indicators like Bollinger Bands or chart patterns like triangles to identify potential breakouts.
  • Position Trading: Position trading is a longer-term strategy where traders aim to capture larger price moves over weeks, months, or even years. Traders analyse fundamental factors and long-term trends to make their trading decisions. Position traders often hold their positions for extended periods, taking advantage of major market shifts.
  • Scalping: Scalping is a short-term strategy where traders aim to make quick profits by entering and exiting trades within minutes or seconds. Scalpers target small price movements and rely on high trading volume and tight spreads to generate profits. Scalping requires quick decision-making and a disciplined approach.
  • Day Trading: Day trading involves opening and closing positions within the same trading day. Day traders take advantage of intraday price fluctuations and aim to capture smaller, more frequent profits. They closely monitor price movements, use technical analysis tools, and may rely on short-term indicators and patterns.
  • Swing Trading: Swing trading is a medium-term strategy that aims to capture shorter-term price swings within a larger trend. Swing traders hold positions for days to weeks, profiting from price oscillations. They combine technical analysis with an understanding of market sentiment to identify entry and exit points.

It’s important to note that each trading strategy has its advantages and risks, and you should choose a strategy that aligns with your trading style, risk tolerance, and time commitment.

Traders often combine multiple strategies or modify them to suit their preferences. Developing a solid understanding of these strategies and practicing with demo accounts can help you refine your skills and improve your chances of success.

Pros & Cons of Trading Forex

Trading forex has its own set of advantages and disadvantages that you should consider:

Pros

  • High liquidity: Forex is the most liquid financial market, providing ample opportunities for executing trades at desired prices without significant price slippage.
  • Accessibility: The forex market operates 24/5, allowing traders to participate at their convenience, regardless of time zones. It offers flexibility for those with other commitments.
  • Leverage: Forex trading offers access to leverage, enabling traders to control larger positions with a smaller initial investment. This amplifies potential profits (but also magnifies losses).
  • Diverse trading options: The forex market features a wide range of currency pairs, including major, minor, and exotic pairs. This diversity allows traders to explore various trading opportunities based on their strategies.

Cons

  • High volatility: Forex markets can experience rapid price movements due to factors such as economic news releases or geopolitical events. This volatility can lead to significant gains or losses, requiring careful risk management.
  • Complex market: Forex trading involves analysing multiple factors such as economic indicators, political developments, and global events. Understanding these dynamics can be challenging, especially for novice traders.
  • Risk of losses: Trading forex carries the risk of losing invested capital. Traders must employ effective risk management strategies, including setting stop-loss orders and using appropriate position sizing.
  • Counterparty risk: Forex transactions are conducted over-the-counter (OTC), exposing traders to counterparty risk. This risk arises when the trading counterparty fails to fulfill their obligations, potentially resulting in financial losses.

Fees When Forex Trading

When it comes to forex trading, there are various fees that you should be aware of:

Spreads: Spreads are the difference between the buying and selling prices of a currency pair. Forex brokers typically earn their revenue through spreads, which can be variable or fixed. Lower spreads can be more favorable for traders.

Commissions: Some brokers charge commissions on forex trades in addition to spreads. These commissions are usually based on the trade volume or a fixed fee per trade. It’s essential to consider the impact of commissions on your overall trading costs.

Swap Fees: Swap fees or rollover fees are incurred when holding positions overnight. These fees are associated with the interest rate differential between the currencies in the traded pair. Traders should be aware of the potential impact of swap fees on their positions, as they can be positive or negative depending on the interest rate differential.

Withdrawal Fees: Forex brokers may charge fees for withdrawing funds from your trading account. These fees can vary depending on the broker and the withdrawal method used. It’s important to review the withdrawal fees before choosing a broker.

Inactivity Fees: Some brokers impose inactivity fees if there is no trading activity on the account for a specific period. These fees are intended to encourage active trading. Traders who prefer a more long-term approach should consider brokers with no or low inactivity fees.

Conversion Fees: If you’re trading forex in a currency different from your account’s base currency, conversion fees may apply. These fees are incurred when converting funds from one currency to another. It’s advisable to assess the conversion fees charged by the broker to determine the impact on your trading costs

Understanding and comparing the fees associated with forex trading is crucial for managing your trading costs effectively.

You should carefully review the fee structures of different brokers and consider how these fees will impact their overall profitability.

How to Start Forex Trading in the UK – Final Thoughts

Trading forex in the UK can be a rewarding endeavor for those willing to put in the time and effort to understand the market and develop effective strategies.

By following the steps outlined in my guide, you can start your forex trading journey with confidence.

Remember to choose a reputable broker, educate yourself on market dynamics, manage your risks effectively, and continuously improve your trading skills.

With proper knowledge, practice, and discipline, forex trading can offer exciting opportunities for financial growth.

Top pick
Plus500 - Overall best trading platform
4.5

One of the fastest-growing trading platforms in the UK for CFD trading. Comprehensive for all levels of experience.

Pros:
  • Intuitive, user-friendly platform
  • Demo trading account & learning academy
  • Fast and responsive customer service
  • Trading tools & charts
82% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

FAQs

Is forex trading legal in the UK?

Yes, forex trading is legal in the UK. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is the regulatory body responsible for overseeing forex trading activities and ensuring that brokers and traders comply with the necessary regulations. As long as you trade with a regulated broker and abide by the relevant guidelines, you can engage in forex trading activities in the UK with confidence.

Is forex trading profitable UK?

Forex trading in the UK has the potential to be profitable, as it provides opportunities to capitalise on the fluctuations in currency exchange rates. Traders who have a solid understanding of the market, employ effective strategies, and manage their risks appropriately can achieve profits. However, it’s important to note that forex trading involves inherent risks, and not all traders will be consistently profitable. Success in forex trading requires continuous learning, practice, discipline, and the ability to adapt to changing market conditions.

When is the best time to trade forex UK?

The best time to trade forex in the UK is during the overlap of major trading sessions, such as the London and New York sessions.

Is forex riskier than stocks?

Forex trading and stock trading both carry risks, but the level of risk can vary depending on various factors such as market volatility, leverage usage, and individual trading strategies. It’s essential to thoroughly understand the risks involved in both markets and employ proper risk management techniques.

Can you make money trading forex UK?

Yes, you can make money trading forex in the UK, but it’s important to note that forex trading involves substantial risk and it’s possible to incur significant losses. Success in forex trading depends on a variety of factors, including your understanding of the markets, trading strategy, and risk management practices. It’s advisable to start with a demo account and gain adequate experience before trading with real money.

How do beginners get into forex?

Beginners interested in forex trading typically start by educating themselves on the basics of currency markets, trading strategies, and risk management. The next step is often to open a demo account with a reputable forex broker to practice trading without risking real money. Once comfortable with the trading platform and strategies, beginners can then transition to a live account, deposit funds, and start trading.

Do you get taxed on forex trading UK?

In the UK, forex trading can be subject to taxation, but the specifics depend on your circumstances and how you approach trading. If you are deemed to be trading forex as a form of income, then it may be subject to income tax. However, if you are considered to be trading as a private investor, then any gains might be subject to Capital Gains Tax (CGT). It’s important to consult with a tax advisor to understand the tax implications tailored to your situation.

Is forex trading difficult?

Forex trading can be complex and involves a high level of risk, making it challenging for beginners without proper education and risk management strategies. Success requires a deep understanding of the forex market, trading techniques, and the ability to analyse economic indicators and trends. While it’s not impossible to be profitable, it does take time, discipline, and a well-thought-out approach to mitigate risks and optimise returns.

You may also like:

Sources:

  1. https://www.bis.org/statistics/rpfx22_fx.htm ↩︎

Will Fenton is the founder of Sterling Savvy. He is a personal finance expert and writes about trading, investing, budgeting, and other financial topics.

Along with his education in Economics & Finance, he has experience working in the financial services industry in London working for one of the UK’s leading financial companies, “a trustworthy and respected provider of news, education and market analysis for the everyday investor”.

View Profile

Advertiser Disclosure

We may receive compensation from our partners for placement of their products or services, which helps to maintain our site. We may also receive compensation if you click on certain links posted on our site. While compensation arrangements may affect the order, position or placement of product information, it doesn’t influence our assessment of those products.