Trading with Brokers
Foreign exchange brokers, unlike equity brokers, do not take positions for
themselves; they only service banks. Their roles are:
• bringing together buyers and sellers in the market;
• optimizing the price they show to their customers;
• quickly, accurately, and faithfully executing the traders' orders.
The majority of the foreign exchange brokers execute business via phone.
The phone lines between brokers and banks are dedicated, or direct, and are
usually in-stalled free of charge by the broker. A foreign exchange brokerage
firm has direct lines to banks around the world. Most foreign exchange is
executed through an open box system—a microphone in front of the broker that
continuously transmits everything he or she says on the direct phone lines to the
speaker boxes in the banks. This way, all banks can hear all the deals being
executed. Because of the open box system used by brokers, a trader is able to
hear all prices quoted; whether the bid was hit or the offer taken; and the
following price. What the trader will not be able to hear is the amounts of
particular bids and offers and the names of the banks showing the prices. Prices
are anonymous the anonymity of the banks that are trading in the market ensures
the market's efficiency, as all banks have a fair chance to trade.
Brokers charge a commission that is paid equally by the buyer and the
seller. The fees are negotiated on an individual basis by the bank and the
Brokers show their customers the prices made by other customers either
two-way (bid and offer) prices or one way (bid or offer) prices from his or her
customers. Traders show different prices because they "read" the market
differently; they have different expectations and different interests. A broker who
has more than one price on one or both sides will automatically optimize the
price. In other words, the broker will always show the highest bid and the
lowest offer. Therefore, the market has access to the narrowest spread possible.
Fundamental and technical analyses are used for forecasting the future direction
of the currency. A trader might test the market by hitting a bid for a small
amount to see if there is any reaction.
Brokers cannot be forced into taking a principal's role if the name switch
takes longer than anticipated.
Another advantage of the brokers' market is that brokers might provide a
broader selection of banks to their customers. Some European and Asian banks
have overnight desks so their orders are usually placed with brokers who can deal
with the American banks, adding to the liquidity of the market.