Trading help, book reviews, risk management, and interviews.

Disclaimer

The contents of this blog do not constitute investment advice. Trading CFDs and Forex can be very risky and you can lose much more than your initial deposit. Seek professional advice before making any trades.

Review of CMC’s CFD and Forex trading platform and service

CMC are a well known CFD, Forex and spread betting company. I signed up to try the service.

Signup procedure

You have to choose whether you want a CFD, Forex or spread betting account. The spread betting account is web based and the CFD and Forex accounts are run from within a Java application called MarketMaker. There is no need to sign up for a separate CFD and FX account – if you open a CFD account then the MarketMaker software gives you access to the foreign exchange market as well.

The signup form is relatively straight forward to fill in. Needing usual home, work, and trading experience details. After filling in the form you get an email to let you know that it may be a few days before they get back in contact. A few days later I got a call from a sales person to ask if I had any questions. He said that as soon as I had deposited the minimum balance (£200) the account should be opened – he offered to take my card details over the phone but I opted to pay online.

The payment procedure is easy just requiring the usual card details – they always make it easy for them to give you money!

A day after depositing the money I still hadn’t received my login details. I called them up and was told I should receive them in the next day. It took a few more days before my account was activated and I finally was able to log into MarketMaker.

The MarketMaker software

MarketMaker is a Java application which you download and install from their website. Installation is easy, and to log in you need your account number, user name and password.

CFD/FX MarketMaker software from CMC

You get a default trading view on loading the software which contains lots currency and index prices as well as a chart. The default view isn’t particularly useful but you can (and should) create your own views for whatever it is you want to trade.

On the left of the screen is a tree view of all the instruments you can trade in. There are stocks, indices, currency, commodities and a few others such as gilts. You can search for your chosen instrument by name but some of indices aren’t called what you’d expect. The FTSE 100 is called the UK100 for example.

You can view each instrument as a graph, in a single price window or you can have group price windows open. You can also have Dow Jones News feeds open – either showing all the news or just the specific news for whatever it is you are trading in.

You can position the windows as you like on the screen, customise them, and save the layouts for later use. You aren’t restricted to having the windows on a single screen either. You can make them ‘pop-out’ so that you can use multiple monitors – essential if you are monitoring several markets.

Trading

Trading is easy – for any instrument you can open an order ticket. Here you can adjust the order size and choose to either buy or sell. You can place market orders, stop orders, limit orders and one cancels the other (OCO) orders.

Opening an order ticket in the MarketMaker software from CMC

You can’t place a stop loss at the same time as you place your market order which is a bit of a pain. You are forced to enter your market order and then open the stop loss – do it quickly before you forget!

Order execution is reasonably fast – taking 1-2 seconds on average on my computer. By default you need two clicks to place the order but you can change it to be one click if you are confident of what you are doing. You do get some re-quotes – especially when the market moves fast but most of my small orders are filled first time.

At the bottom of the screen in MarketMaker is a continuously updating view of your account balance and available margin. Once you have entered a trade it updates in real time to let you know what your current profit or loss is. When you exit the trade you will see your banked profit or loss. If you trade was in a foreign currency you will see the balance continues to fluctuate by a small amount after you exit your trade as CMC doesn’t convert your profit / loss back into your home currency until the end of the day.

Blotters are provided which show you all your current or pending orders. Make sure you regularly check these – if you are doing lots of trades in a day then it is easy to lose track of what open or pending orders you have.

There is basic ‘level 2’ information available if you are trading UK stocks – but the information is too basic to be of much use to me. They only provide a list of the 10 trades either side of the spread – they don’t provide a summary as to the total size of orders on the buy and sell side which I’m sure would be an easy feature to implement.

Charts

The charts are very good offering all the usual types, timeframes, indicators and oscillators. You can customise the colours and parameters for each of these. There are drawing tools if you want to draw support and resistance lines on your charts.

There are however some omissions. Perhaps most important is that you can’t trade directly from the charts. If you want to record buy and sell indicators on the charts you’ll have to add them manually.

You can only have one of each indicator on the chart. You can’t for example put more than one moving average on a chart which is something that a lot of people (such as me) would like to do. There are also no trading volume charts available for indices which seems a shame.

Other features

There are some miscellaneous features built into MarketMaker.

One is a real time chat facility that allows you to get help from their support team. I’ve used it a few times. Once it was helpful in that I asked questions and I got a very basic – but correct – answers. The second time they weren’t very helpful. It took them ages to respond and in the end I found out the answer myself before they got back to me. Still it is good to have this facility built into the software.

Real time news from Dow Jones is available and can be filtered for the area you are interested in. I can’t say I’ve found it very useful myself – I’ve not yet investigated trading off news events, but if you do then you may find it a useful resource to have.

Education

One of CMC’s slogans is that they want to make you ‘an educated trader’. All such companies want to help you learn, as the more knowledgeable you are the more likely you are to trade with them.

Soon after signing up they send you the first three booklets of their Trading IQ course. A week or two later you get the other five booklets. They all offer very lightweight advice on trading using CFDs, the software platform and trading strategy, but you should definitely read through them. Included as well is a short DVD presented by James Nesbit.

There is a button on MarketMaker which allows you to access their private web site. Here you can access their analysis, some tools and there is a ‘trading social network’, where you can read people’s trading blogs and follow people whose strategies you like.

Withdrawing money

This is something that I have yet to have the pleasure of doing. It is of course a very important aspect of any trading company. There is no point in making money with them if they make it hard for you to get it back.

Hopefully I’ll update this section when I try to get my (fingers crossed!) future profit out!

Conclusions

I’ve found the software to be easy to use and responsive, both with price updates and when I’ve wanted to enter or exit a trade. The software has plenty of features but I hope they will add more such as volume indicators for indices and better level 2 views.

The account opening procedure could have been a bit smoother but I got there in the end.

All in all CMC have a good CFD and Forex trading platform. For more information see the CMC website.


Leave a Reply

Do NOT fill this !