IG Index are the largest broker in the UK, and a well established, global operator – dealing in CFDs, Forex, share dealing and digital options. The brand is owned by IG Group, a FTSE listed company based in London. The brokerage has been trading for over 40 years.
As the IG Group offer other financial instruments in addition to binaries, they are fully regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This gives UK consumers absolute confidence, as it offers them a much higher level of protection than any other form of regulation. The business is publicly listed on the London Stock Exchange, and enjoys a debt free balance sheet – further reassuring potential new traders.
Another huge advantage for UK customers is that trade trade binaries (digital options) over an exchange. This reduces the margins to an absolute minimum. It also offers traders the option of closing positions at any time – making binary options ‘tradeable’, on traders’ own terms (not those laid out by the broker). The ‘Sprint‘ options are not offered on an exchange basis – these are very short term binary options of one or two minutes.
The website offers binary options over two trading platforms, both available from the main screen after login. ‘Digital 100s’ are traded via the spread betting screens, and ‘Sprints’ are traded via a more familiar binary options style platform.
The sprints offered on the platform are what will look most familiar to traders who have traded binaries before. The main part of the trading window shows the current price graph with live prices. The options down the right display all the choices the trader needs to make;
The Payout field is also the ‘Submit‘ button to confirm the trade.
The minimum trade on the sprints panel is £20.
Beneath the trading area is a record of both open positions, and recently closed positions. The ‘Open’ panel will display how the open trades are performing, as well as the details of the trade, potential payout and countdown to expiry. The history tab will detail all the relevant details from previous trades, and summarise the total performance underneath.
There are some drawbacks to the Sprint platform, in that the chart is not amendable. The lists of assets available is not huge and the payout percentage is not shown (traders can work it out from the payout figure given, but it is a standard feature elsewhere). None of these shortcomings are huge, particularly once the other trading platform, for IG binaries, is considered.
‘Sprint’ Trading Area:
The trading platform for binaries (digital 100s) at IG is the same as the spread betting portal. The reason for this is that digital 100 options are traded in exactly the same way, using live prices. They are traded openly, and a trader can login and close a position at any time. So they can take profits, or close a trade at a predetermined stop loss however they choose.
Down the left hand edge of the trading area is the asset list and digital 100 type list, the two are combined. Each area can be expanded to show the choices beneath. Traders can then select the market they wish to trade.
Selecting the asset will open the ‘Prices‘ window on the right, which will list all the available choices (price levels) for binary options on that asset. This window displays the expiry and the current ‘buy‘ and ‘sell‘ prices.
The ‘make up‘ or final figure that the market is settled on, will be either ‘0‘ or ‘100‘. 0 where the price finished below the stated level, and 100 where it finished above the stated level. So the buy and sell figures on active assets will fall somewhere between the two.
If the figures are higher, 68.5 to 72.5 for example, this suggests the market believes the asset will finish above the price (and the make up will be 100). Conversely, if the buy and sell figures are lower, perhaps 15.2 and 19.2, the market thinks a make up of 0 is more likely. The difference between the buy and sell prices are the broker’s spread (or margin), this is how they derive a profit. The actual buy and sell levels are dictated by the market – traders buying and selling the option.
When a trader is ready to trade, they click the small green arrow to the left of the asset they are trading. This will open a new ‘ticket‘ window.
The asset details will be listed at the top of the window. The trader then needs to enter the ‘Size’. This is the trade amount – but is the ‘per pip‘ figure.
In the example, the buy price is 42.3. If a size of £1 was entered, this would mean the cost of the trade was £42.3 (This would be shown at the foot of the trading ticket). If the make up was 0, the result would be -£42.3 for the trader. If the market rises and the make up is 100, the trader wins £57.7. As mentioned above, as the buy and sell figures move, a trader can close their position.
So while the trade may have a maximum loss of £42.3 – the trader could close the deal early if they thought it was going against them.
The Requirements area specifies the costs of the trade. The ‘Margin required‘ field lists two figures. The first is the ‘cost’ of a sell position, the second figure is the ‘cost’ of a buy. These costs represent the worst case scenario, should the market make up at 0 or 100. Clicking on either the sell or buy window will confirm the trade, and it will appear in the open trades list at the foot of the trading area.
If all of this seems too much, fear not. This broker offers a demo account and online support. Although the screens differ from normal binary option screens, the benefits of trading on an exchange are huge for traders and it is well worth traders getting a login, and learning the new platform.
IG offer digital 100’s on forex, commodities (Oil, Gold etc) and indices (and Spread betting on stocks). Their asset lists for binary options are not as deep as their spread betting portfolio, but as demand grows, so will the market choice. The lists on ‘sprints’ is quite low, but anyone trading the major indices and currency pairs will not notice an issue.
They offer two kinds of option:
Above/Below – The basic binary option. Will the asset rise in value, or fall? Binaries come in a variety of timeframes, from 5 minutes up to months. Within these screens, traders can also access ‘Ladder’ style options. These are traded in exactly the same way, but have price levels staggered at different points. As they are traded, ladders offer routes to large payouts.
Sprints – These behave much the same as short term options at rival brokers. It is the normal Above / Below setup but over 1,2,5,20 or 60 minute timeframes. Payouts are around 80% on the sprint options.
IG offer the most comprehensive mobile trading app on the market. The application is free, and has been optimised for a number of different platforms. Android and iOS versions are available, as are specific versions for tablets (again, both android and iPad) and also for windows phones, and tablets.
The application is slick and most importantly, contains every feature available on the full website. From account maintenance to specific sprint trading, everything is available in the trading app.
The layout is clear and concise, making trading very simple. The sprints trading area appears almost exactly as it does on the website as it has already been refined for ease of use.
The payouts at an exchange are hard to compare – few other binary options broker offers real exchange trading. The sprints options payout between 75% and 80%. The digital 100 options however, payout depending on the level that the trader was able to open the trade at. For example, if a trader brought at 50 and the make up was 100, the payout is effectively 100% (they risked £50 and got paid £100). If they brought at 70 and the make up was 100 then the payout dips to around 50% (The amount risked was greater and the gain was smaller). A better comparison is the spread – the difference between the buy and sell prices. The spread is roughly 4% (or 4 ‘points’) on the binary markets. This, combined with the ability to trade at any point, makes the firm substantially cheaper than any other binary options broker.
The company have also recently announced even tighter spreads, including the EUR/USD pair at just 0.6. So the IG spreads are currently as small as they have ever been.
As a company that is regulated by the FCA, IG Group, and more specifically IG Index, have strict controls on deposit and withdrawal methods, and this in turn, ensures greater protection for the trader and their funds.
There is a £100 minimum deposit level at the firm, and you must have the funds in your account to open trades. The amount required differs per asset, but minimum trades per point vary between 5op and £10. The amount required to open a trade will be made clear before a trade is confirmed and is referred to as the ‘Margin required‘. This information is also available from the ‘Get info‘ menu option alongside each market.
Deposits can be made via debit or credit card but these must be in the name of an individual (not a commercial card for example). Non-UK cards will incur a charge of 1.5%. Bank transfers are also accepted, these must be in the same name as the individual on the trading account. Deposits can also be made via the same options over the mobile apps.
Withdrawals are a huge strength. Binary options brokers have long suffered a poor reputation for processing withdrawals – not so here. Withdrawals are available via the same methods as deposits (debit and credit cards and bank transfer). A standard withdrawal is free, and will be processed via the BACS banking method, meaning a 3 day turnaround. Traders can however, request a CHAPS transfer. If the withdrawal is greater than £100, this is free and funds will be returned the same day if the request is made before 12 (midday). Free, and processed the same day – this represents the gold standard in binary options – by a long way. If the CHAPS withdrawal is for less than £100, there will be a £15 fee. IG will consider requests for cheques at their discretion, but they are not generally a freely available withdrawal method. The £15 fee will also be levied for international payments.
One complaint which is occasionally heard regarding the platform is traders being “stopped out”. This is where a trader sees their stop loss hit (closing the trade) only for the asset price to move back in the direction the trader originally thought.
The issue however, is generally market volatility and stop losses set too close the current market price. There is little evidence of any wrong doing by the firm but they will often bear the brunt of a frustrated trader after a loss.
There is also ongoing inquests into the Swiss franc incident where the broker was allegedly slow in responding to the dramatic price drop, only filling customer stop losses well after the initial drop. This is being investigated by the regulators and as yet has not resulted in any firm rulings either way.
The firm offer a full demo account. This gives access not only to the digital 100 options, but also all the other financial vehicles that they offer – so CFD trading and ETFs, for example.
There are also a wide range of educational videos, many of which offer walk through demo’s of certain features on the platform.
IG Offer MT4 (MetaTrader 4) integration. It has recently been improved further, with the biggest improvement seeing the spreads on the mt4 platform matching those on the normal platform. In addition there is now faster execution of trades – which was a big issue for users – and also a range of new apps to compliment the new integration.
IG Index offer their clients the following features and benefits:
IG Group are based in London:
Cannon Bridge House
25 Dowgate Hill
There are however, offices in 15 countries around the world, including North America and the Middle East.
The share price is listed on the London Stock Exchange as IGG. The firm turned over well over £400 million in the last two years, under CEO Peter Hetherington.
The website is available 24 hours a day, but assets can only be traded when the specific market is open. For example, stocks traded on the London Stock Exchange will only be open for trading during UK trading hours. US and Asian market assets will be open when their respective markets are trading and so on. Some forex trading will be available around the clock as currencies can be traded in multiple locations. Trading volumes may vary however.
They make a profit from each trade based on their spread. This is the price difference between bid and offer (buy and sell) prices. These spreads will be as small as 0.5% on certain assets. IG do not take counter party risk and operate on the exchange business model, effectively matching traders. Read more about how binary options brokers make money here.
The IG Group operates both this brand, but also Nadex which is licensed to trade binaries in the US. IG Group are a listed company on the London Stock Exchange and this in itself ensures they must provide annual financial reports to the City and be transparent as to their sources of income and how it is derived.
IG Markets was the name by which IG Index was previously known. As IG Group has amended their product, from sports betting, to spread betting and financial derivatives, they have also rebranded. The brand is now referred to as IG Index, but also simply “IG”. IG Group also own the regulated US brand, Nadex.
The IG spread is the difference between the bid and offer prices. This percentage is how IG Index derive a profit from each trade.
IG do offer extremely advanced charting and this includes MT4 (MetaTrader 4) integration. MT5, while currently less popular, is also compatible.