Before I close the reviews section, I remember briefly discussing automated trading – anyway, after a bit of research I have opened a demo account with GKFX. This is one of the newer/smaller spread betting providers on the block having been around for just about 2 years and has recently changed its name from Smart Live Financial Services Ltd to GKFX Financial Services Ltd. Apparently, they also have a sister company called Smart Live Gaming, who are owned by the same parent company, but are a separate division to the spread betting branch.
We are told that the reason for the change of name to GKFX Financial Services Ltd. is purely cosmetic ‘As we have grown globally as a company it has been apparent that some people have been confused by our name, so we have chosen a more generic name which as a brand going forward will be far more easily recognised throughout the world.’
Spread Betting Meta Trader
The main bonus with Smart Live Markets is the MT4 platform. As far as I can tell this is the only company that allows you to spreadbet using the meta-trader MT4 platform, all other companies are CFD/forex only. I suspect there may well be a very good reason for this, I will find out in time… Now if you haven’t ever used Meta Trader before please google it and learn it’s features; it’s a massive platform used by many Forex brokers but by no other spread betting company. It can do so many things, much more than any home made spread betting platform, that’s why many people are happy to give SmartLiveMarkets a try. It is certainly refreshing to be able to see the bid and ask on the screen of a spread betting platform and see what actually happens to the spread.
Good points – MT4 platform, Quick loading of charts, quick loading of different chart templates, multiple accounts, can use record keeping stuff like myfxbook, lots of indicators freely available, Good place to practice with small size, Excellent range of FX, Very good spreads on exotics., Competitive financing charges.
Bad points – Not enough commodities, money markets, ETFs and indices are covered. Re-quotes can be a problem. Limited historical data and gaps in live data on charts. Inability to place orders outside of usual market hours. GKFX utilise fixed margin (which are quite high).
They allow bet sizes of just 10p per point permanently on the FTSE 100 which is good. The list of instruments they offer is reduced compared to web-gui-based companies like Capital Spreads, but that’s down to limitations of MT4 implementation which I think they’ve done a decent job of. From the small stakes point of view, Smart Live Markets has them all beat, as they have permanent minimum stakes from £0.10/pip and can can also move up in increments of 10p. I think this is better than demo trading for a newbie because it is real money (albeit very small) and it makes you focus and react differently than if you were using a demo account with pretend money. Basically it allows you to trade for real without risking your neck. In addition, you get to play with MT4.
However, my brief experience with GKFX (formerly SmartLiveMarkets) is that requotes can be a problem if the markets are moving fast and am trying to buy ‘at market’. Placing a Stop or Limit order appears to give no problems. The platform can also be a bit cumbersome to use. For instance the Meta Trader 4 order ticketing system takes too long to load and values can reset themselves. For example if you right click on the chart then select New Order it takes ages to get it correct. If you don’t click EXACTLY in the right place then modify the price field before changing the lots the price field resets to what you clicked at. If price is anywhere near the entry you want you can just forget it. You may as well just enter at market and suffer the slippage.
In fact their main unique selling point is the MT4 platform which suggests to me that they are competing with other retail market maker forex brokers that offer Meta Trader 4 as this is the most popular platform within the retail forex world. It has always struck me as somewhat odd that, if you are based in the United Kingdom, you have to pay CGT when using the MetaTrader platform via a Forex broker, but if you perform exactly the same activity on a spread betting platform such as IG Index (the main one we have used) and Capital Spreads (another market leader) you do not need to pay any tax at all. Thus their competition would be the likes of Alpari UK, FxPro, IBFX at the micro account level who are all market makers which offer the MT4 platform and targeted at the retail end of the market. So if GKFX are offering the same platform with comparable spreads with the same execution reliability then for UK residents it would be a no brainer to use them due to the tax advantage (together with the FSA regulation and compensation scheme etc).
Bear in mind that you are betting a stake value per point move and this is in the market base currency (GBP) and not in the currency values of the cross you are “trading”, minimum bet is £0.10/point (pip) and step increments may not be linear in 0.10 steps, so your Expert Advisor (robot) needs to handle this. Money management etc may not work as you expect given the above so test your system on a demo account use fixed lots if your Expert Advisor cannot correctly calculate trade sizes. You can part-close positions should you need to, so long as the instruction meets the trade-size requirements. Also, do keep in mind that relying on robots to do your trading can be very dangerous, particularly when they rely on outside forces to influence them.
The main problem with SmartLiveMarkets is that the execution and reliability is still far from perfect. So whats the problem? Re-quotes…dozens of them…re-quotes on re-quotes…and if it’s not re-quotes it’s ‘invalid price’. Note that if you are experiencing re-quotes it will help to utilise the deviation setting at the bottom of the deal ticket, which allows some flexibility to not get re-quotes. In any case they are what they are, a spread betting company aimed at Joe Bloggs that doesn’t pretend to cater for the £100 a pip guys. If you trade instruments with little more spread you might be fine. They used to offer tight fixed spreads, which was a major money spinner for many Asian traders, which came to an end in February with the move to variable spreads.
Their customer service is quite good and Smart Live Markets do really seem to help where possible because, being newish yet having staff who have previously worked in the industry, they must have realised that this was the only way to stand a chance.
Mobile Trading: They do offer a mobile trading app although this is not official yet – available via the apple store though – just Google search. Mobile phone trading is available on the iPhone and Android.
To conclude: This isn’t an endorsment btw. I like the MT4 platform and they are a fresh new player in the industry, but they have to offer better execution, otherwise I don’t see much practical sense in using them. I find Capital Spreads have much better execution and lower margin requirements.