European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) Brokers 2024

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Written By
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Written By
Tobias Robinson
Tobias is a partner at DayTrading.com, director of a UK limited company and active trader. He has over 25 years of experience in the financial industry and contributed via CySec to the regulatory response to digital options and CFD trading in Europe. Toby’s expertise and dedication to financial education make him a trusted voice in the industry, including a BBC investigation into digital options.
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Fact Checked By
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Fact Checked By
William Berg
William contributes to several investment websites, leveraging his experience as a consultant for IPOs in the Nordic market and background providing localization for forex trading software. William has worked as a writer and fact-checker for a long row of financial publications.
Updated

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) is an independent European Union financial regulatory body. From its headquarters in Paris, the body looks to enforce a range of new trading rules and regulations to enhance the functionality of securities markets.

This tutorial will break down everything you need to know about ESMA, including its history, meaning, criticisms as well as links to the MiFID II Directive. You can also start trading with our list of ESMA regulated brokers below.

Best ESMA Brokers

Brokers authorized by the ESMA must adhere to some of the most stringent account and capital security standards to protect retail investors. These are the top ESMA brokers based on our expert tests and reviews:

Click a broker for details
  1. 1
    FOREX.com
    Active Trader Program With A 15% Reduction In Costs

    Ratings
    4.9 / 5
    4 / 5
    4.3 / 5
    4.6 / 5
    4.6 / 5
    4.3 / 5
    4.8 / 5
    4.5 / 5
    3.6 / 5
    3.8 / 5

    $100
    0.01 Lots
    1:50
    NFA, CFTC
    Forex, Stocks, Futures, Futures Options
    MT4, MT5, TradingView, eSignal, AutoChartist, TradingCentral
    Wire Transfer, Credit Card, Debit Card, Visa, Mastercard, Skrill, Neteller, ACH Transfer
    USD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, JPY, CHF, PLN
  2. 2
    NinjaTrader

    Ratings
    4.3 / 5
    2.8 / 5
    2.9 / 5
    4.3 / 5
    4.5 / 5
    4 / 5
    4 / 5
    3.5 / 5
    3 / 5
    3.2 / 5

    $0
    0.01 Lots
    1:50
    NFA, CFTC
    Forex, Stocks, Options, Commodities, Futures, Crypto
    NinjaTrader Desktop, Web & Mobile, eSignal
    ACH Transfer, Debit Card, Wire Transfer
    USD
  3. 3
    eToro USA
    Invest $100 and get $10
    https://www.daytrading.com/ is not an affiliate and may be compensated if you access certain products or services offered by the MSB and/or the BD.

    Ratings
    4.3 / 5
    3 / 5
    3.9 / 5
    3.4 / 5
    4 / 5
    3 / 5
    4.3 / 5
    4.5 / 5
    4.3 / 5
    4 / 5

    $10
    $10
    SEC, FINRA
    Stocks, Options, ETFs, Crypto
    eToro Trading Platform & CopyTrader
    ACH Transfer, Debit Card, PayPal, Wire Transfer
    USD
  4. 4
    OANDA US
    CFDs are not available to residents in the United States.

    Ratings
    4.5 / 5
    3.5 / 5
    2.8 / 5
    4 / 5
    4.5 / 5
    3.5 / 5
    4.3 / 5
    3.8 / 5
    4.7 / 5
    3.7 / 5

    $0
    0.01 Lots
    1:50
    NFA, CFTC
    Forex, Crypto with Paxos (Cryptocurrencies are offered through Paxos. Paxos is a separate legal entity from OANDA)
    OANDA Trade, MT4, TradingView, AutoChartist
    Wire Transfer, Visa, Mastercard, Debit Card, ACH Transfer
    USD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, JPY, CHF, HKD, SGD
  5. 5
    DNA Markets

    Ratings
    3 / 5
    4 / 5
    4 / 5
    3.9 / 5
    3.5 / 5
    3.6 / 5
    1.8 / 5
    1.6 / 5
    4.8 / 5
    4.4 / 5

    $100
    0.01 Lots
    1:500
    ASIC
    CFDs, Forex, Indices, Commodities, Stocks, Crypto
    MT4, MT5
    Credit Card, Debit Card, Wire Transfer, BPAY, Skrill, Neteller, Bitcoin Payments, Bitwallet, AstroPay, Mastercard
    USD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, NZD, SGD
  6. 6
    IG
    Forex trading involves risk. Losses can exceed deposits.

    Ratings
    4.9 / 5
    4 / 5
    4.5 / 5
    3.5 / 5
    4.8 / 5
    4.5 / 5
    4.9 / 5
    5 / 5
    4.6 / 5
    4 / 5

    $0
    0.01 Lots
    1:30 (Retail), 1:250 (Pro)
    FCA, ASIC, NFA, CFTC, DFSA, BaFin, MAS, FSCA, FINMA, CONSOB
    CFDs, Forex, Stocks, Indices, Commodities, ETFs, Futures, Options, Crypto, Spread Betting
    Web, ProRealTime, L2 Dealer, MT4, AutoChartist, TradingCentral
    PayPal, Wire Transfer, Mastercard, Credit Card, Visa, Debit Card
    USD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, JPY, ZAR, SEK, DKK, CHF, HKD, SGD
  7. 7
    Pocket Option
    50% Deposit Bonus

    Ratings
    2 / 5
    3.5 / 5
    2.5 / 5
    3.5 / 5
    3.3 / 5
    3.3 / 5
    3 / 5
    3.5 / 5
    4 / 5
    4.2 / 5

    $50
    $1
    MISA
    Binary Options, Currencies, Commodities, Stocks, Indices, Cryptos
    Web, MT4, MT5
    Wire Transfer, Credit Card, Bitcoin Payments, Volet, Perfect Money, Visa, Mastercard, Debit Card, WebMoney, FasaPay, Ethereum Payments, Maestro, JetonCash
    USD
  8. 8
    IQCent
    20% to 200% Deposit Bonus

    Ratings
    2.5 / 5
    3.3 / 5
    2.4 / 5
    4.3 / 5
    3.8 / 5
    2.5 / 5
    3 / 5
    2 / 5
    4.3 / 5
    4.1 / 5

    $250
    $0.01
    1:500
    IFMRRC
    Binary Options, CFDs, Forex, Indices, Commodities, Crypto
    Online Platform, TradingView
    Credit Card, Debit Card, Wire Transfer, Bitcoin Payments, Ethereum Payments, Visa, Mastercard
    USD, EUR
  9. 9
    RedMars

    Ratings
    3.3 / 5
    3.5 / 5
    3.8 / 5
    3.5 / 5
    3.8 / 5
    4 / 5
    2.8 / 5
    3 / 5
    4.7 / 5
    4.6 / 5

    €250
    0.01 Lots
    1:30 (Retail), 1:500 (Pro)
    CySEC
    CFDs, Forex, Stocks, Indices, Commodities, Cryptos
    MT5
    Credit Card, Wire Transfer, Debit Card, Sticpay, FasaPay, Bitcoin Payments, Trustly, PayPal, Skrill, Neteller, Klarna, Mastercard, Visa
    USD, EUR
  10. 10
    Interactive Brokers

    Ratings
    4.5 / 5
    3.5 / 5
    4.5 / 5
    4.3 / 5
    3.3 / 5
    3 / 5
    4.4 / 5
    4.3 / 5
    4.3 / 5
    4.5 / 5

    $0
    $100
    1:50
    FCA, SEC, FINRA, CFTC, CBI, CIRO, SFC, MAS, MNB, FINMA
    Stocks, Options, Futures, Forex, Funds, Bonds, ETFs, Mutual Funds, CFDs, Cryptocurrencies
    Trader Workstation (TWS), IBKR Desktop, GlobalTrader, Mobile, Client Portal, AlgoTrader, OmniTrader, eSignal, TradingCentral
    Cheque, ACH Transfer, Wire Transfer, Automated Customer Account Transfer Service, TransferWise, Debit Card
    USD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, INR, JPY, SEK, NOK, DKK, CHF, AED, HUF

Here is a summary of why we recommend these brokers:

  1. FOREX.com - Founded in 1999, FOREX.com is now part of StoneX, a financial services organization serving over one million customers worldwide. Regulated in the US, UK, EU, Australia and beyond, the broker offers thousands of markets, not just forex, and provides excellent pricing on cutting-edge platforms.
  2. NinjaTrader - NinjaTrader is a US-headquartered and regulated brokerage that specializes in futures trading. There are three pricing plans to suit different needs and budgets, as well as ultra-low margins on popular contracts. The brand's award-winning charting software and trading platform also offers a high-degree of customization and superb technical analysis features.
  3. eToro USA - eToro is a social investing platform that offers short-term and long-term trading on stocks, ETFs, options and crypto. The broker is well-known for its user-friendly community-centred platform and competitive fees. With FINRA and SIPC oversight and millions of users across the world, eToro is still one of the most respected brands in the industry. eToro securities trading is offered by eToro USA Securities, Inc.
  4. OANDA US - OANDA is a popular brand offering exceptional execution, low deposit requirements and advanced charting and trading platform features. The top-rated brand has over 25 years of experience and is regulated by trusted agencies, including the NFA/CFTC. Around the clock support is available for short-term traders, alongside flexible contract sizes and automated trade executions.
  5. DNA Markets - DNA Markets is a forex and CFD broker established in 2020. The broker operates two entities in Australia and the offshore jurisdiction, St Vincent and the Grenadines. Traders can access 800+ markets, with a Standard account for beginners and a Raw account for experienced traders. The reliable MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5 platforms are available, alongside Signal Start.
  6. IG - Founded in 1974, IG is part of IG Group Holdings Plc, a publicly traded (LSE: IGG) brokerage. The brand-US offers spread betting, CFD and forex trading across an almost unrivalled selection of 17,000+ markets, with a range of user-friendly platforms and investing apps. For 50 years, IG has maintained its position as an industry leader, excelling in all key areas for traders.
  7. Pocket Option - Established in 2017, Pocket Option is a binary options broker offering high/low contracts on forex, stocks, indices, commodities and cryptocurrencies. With over 100,000 active users and a global reach, the platform continues to prove popular with budding traders.
  8. IQCent - IQCent is an offshore binary options and CFD broker based in the Marshall Islands. The brand continues to offer a range of unique account types with bonuses and perks, including payout boosts, TradeBacks and free rollovers. With 100+ assets, around-the-clock trading and 98% payouts, the firm is popular with aspiring short-term traders.
  9. RedMars - Launched in 2020, Cyprus-based RedMars offers competitive spreads on more than 300 instruments and leverage up to 1:500. Three accounts are available - Standard, Pro and VIP - serving a range of budgets and experience levels, with a fast and fully digital account opening process.
  10. Interactive Brokers - Interactive Brokers (IBKR) is a premier brokerage, providing access to 150 markets in 33 countries, along with a suite of comprehensive investment services. With over 40 years of experience, this Nasdaq-listed firm adheres to stringent regulations by the SEC, FCA, CIRO, and SFC, amongst others, and is one of the most trusted brokers for trading around the globe.

FOREX.com

"FOREX.com remains a best-in-class brokerage for active forex traders of all experience levels, with over 80 currency pairs, tight spreads from 0.0 pips and low commissions. The powerful charting platforms collectively offer over 100 technical indicators, as well as extensive research tools."

Christian Harris, Reviewer

FOREX.com Quick Facts

Bonus OfferActive Trader Program With A 15% Reduction In Costs
Demo AccountYes
InstrumentsForex, Stocks, Futures, Futures Options
RegulatorNFA, CFTC
PlatformsMT4, MT5, TradingView, eSignal, AutoChartist, TradingCentral
Minimum Deposit$100
Minimum Trade0.01 Lots
Leverage1:50
Account CurrenciesUSD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, JPY, CHF, PLN

Pros

  • There’s a wealth of educational resources including tutorials, webinars, and a stacked YouTube channel to help you get educated in the financial markets.
  • The in-house Web Trader continues to shine as one of the best-designed platforms for aspiring day traders with a slick design and over 80 technical indicators for market analysis.
  • Alongside a choice of leading platforms, FOREX.com offers a superb suite of supplementary tools including Trading Central research, SMART Signals pattern scanner, trading signals, and strategy builders.

Cons

  • Demo accounts are frustratingly time-limited to 90 days, which doesn’t give you enough time to test day trading strategies effectively.
  • There’s no negative balance protection for US clients, so you may find yourself owing more money than your initial deposit into your account.
  • Despite increasing its range of instruments, FOREX.com's product portfolio is still limited to forex and CFDs, so there are no options to invest in real stocks, real ETFs or real cryptocurrencies.

NinjaTrader

"NinjaTrader continues to meet the demands of active futures traders looking for low fees and premium analysis tools. The platform hosts top-rate charting features including hundreds of indicators and 10+ chart types."

Tobias Robinson, Reviewer

NinjaTrader Quick Facts

Demo AccountYes
InstrumentsForex, Stocks, Options, Commodities, Futures, Crypto
RegulatorNFA, CFTC
PlatformsNinjaTrader Desktop, Web & Mobile, eSignal
Minimum Deposit$0
Minimum Trade0.01 Lots
Leverage1:50
Account CurrenciesUSD

Pros

  • NinjaTrader continues to deliver comprehensive charting software for active day traders with bespoke technical indicators and widgets
  • You can get thousands of add-ons and applications from developers in 150+ countries
  • NinjaTrader is a widely respected and award-winning futures broker and is heavily authorized by the NFA and CFTC

Cons

  • There is a withdrawal fee on some funding methods
  • The premium platform tools come with an extra charge
  • Non forex and futures trading requires signing up with partner brokers

eToro USA

"eToro remains a top pick for traders looking for leading social investing and copy trading services. With a low deposit, zero commissions and an intuitive platform, the broker will meet the needs of newer day traders."

Jemma Grist, Reviewer

eToro USA Quick Facts

Bonus OfferInvest $100 and get $10
Demo AccountYes
InstrumentsStocks, Options, ETFs, Crypto
RegulatorSEC, FINRA
PlatformseToro Trading Platform & CopyTrader
Minimum Deposit$10
Minimum Trade$10
Account CurrenciesUSD

Pros

  • eToro USA Securities is a trustworthy, SEC-regulated broker that is a member of FINRA and SIPC
  • The $10 minimum deposit and straightforward account opening process means beginners can get started quickly
  • Investors can access Smart Portfolios for a more hands-off approach, covering a range of sectors and markets such as renewable energy and artificial intelligence

Cons

  • Average fees may cut into the profit margins of day traders
  • The proprietary terminal doesn't support trading bots and there are no additional stock market analysis tools
  • There's no MetaTrader 4 platform integration for traders who are accustomed to using third-party charting tools

OANDA US

"OANDA remains an excellent broker for US day traders seeking a user-friendly platform with premium analysis tools and a straightforward joining process. OANDA is also heavily regulated with a very high trust score."

Jemma Grist, Reviewer

OANDA US Quick Facts

Demo AccountYes
InstrumentsForex, Crypto with Paxos (Cryptocurrencies are offered through Paxos. Paxos is a separate legal entity from OANDA)
RegulatorNFA, CFTC
PlatformsOANDA Trade, MT4, TradingView, AutoChartist
Minimum Deposit$0
Minimum Trade0.01 Lots
Leverage1:50
Account CurrenciesUSD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, JPY, CHF, HKD, SGD

Pros

  • Beginners can get started easily with $0 minimum initial deposit
  • There's a strong selection of 68 currency pairs for dedicated short-term forex traders
  • The proprietary OANDA web platform continues to deliver a highly competitive charting environment, including 65+ technical indicators powered by TradingView

Cons

  • It's a shame that customer support is not available on weekends
  • The range of day trading markets is limited to forex and cryptos only
  • There's only a small range of payment methods available, with no e-wallets supported

DNA Markets

"DNA Markets is an excellent choice for short-term traders familiar with the MetaTrader platforms. The smooth sign-up process also makes it easy to get started while the $100 minimum deposit is accessible. That said, DNA Markets trails the top brokers in education, research and mobile trading. "

Jemma Grist, Reviewer

DNA Markets Quick Facts

Demo AccountYes
InstrumentsCFDs, Forex, Indices, Commodities, Stocks, Crypto
RegulatorASIC
PlatformsMT4, MT5
Minimum Deposit$100
Minimum Trade0.01 Lots
Leverage1:500
Account CurrenciesUSD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, NZD, SGD

Pros

  • The broker provides 24/5 customer support with response times of <2 minutes during testing
  • You can access low trading fees with spreads from 0.0 pips in the Raw account and zero non-trading fees
  • Convenient account funding is available with 7 base currencies, a $100 deposit and a wide range of payment methods

Cons

  • Although it continues to strengthen its client base and reputation, DNA Markets lacks the track record of top brokers like Vantage
  • Unlike many alternatives, there are limited educational and research tools for traders seeking an all-in-one solution
  • Despite access to MT4 and MT5, there is no proprietary trading app for seamless account management whilst on the go

IG

"IG continues to provide a comprehensive package with an intuitive web platform and best-in-class education for beginners, plus advanced charting tools, real-time data, and fast execution speeds for experienced day traders."

Christian Harris, Reviewer

IG Quick Facts

Demo AccountYes
InstrumentsCFDs, Forex, Stocks, Indices, Commodities, ETFs, Futures, Options, Crypto, Spread Betting
RegulatorFCA, ASIC, NFA, CFTC, DFSA, BaFin, MAS, FSCA, FINMA, CONSOB
PlatformsWeb, ProRealTime, L2 Dealer, MT4, AutoChartist, TradingCentral
Minimum Deposit$0
Minimum Trade0.01 Lots
Leverage1:30 (Retail), 1:250 (Pro)
Account CurrenciesUSD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, JPY, ZAR, SEK, DKK, CHF, HKD, SGD

Pros

  • As a well-established broker, IG operates under strict regulatory guidelines in multiple jurisdictions, maintaining a high level of trust
  • The ProRealTime advanced charting platform is free as long as certain modest monthly trading activity requirements are met
  • The proprietary web-based platform continues to caters to traders of all levels, with advanced charting tools and real-time market data useful for day trading

Cons

  • IG applies an inactivity fee of $12 per month after 2 years, deterring casual investors
  • Beginners might find IG’s fee structure complex, with various fees for different types of trades or services, potentially leading to confusion or unexpected charges
  • IG has discontinued its swap-free account, reducing its appeal to Islamic traders

Pocket Option

"Pocket Option excels for its easy-to-use web platform which provides a best-in-class user experience for short-term binary traders. The $50 minimum deposit is also accessible for beginners while opening an account is really easy. Looking at the negatives, Pocket Option still trails alternatives in its market offering and regulatory credentials."

Jemma Grist, Reviewer

Pocket Option Quick Facts

Bonus Offer50% Deposit Bonus
Demo AccountYes
InstrumentsBinary Options, Currencies, Commodities, Stocks, Indices, Cryptos
RegulatorMISA
PlatformsWeb, MT4, MT5
Minimum Deposit$50
Minimum Trade$1
Account CurrenciesUSD

Pros

  • Well-funded traders who deposit $1000+ can qualify for a 2%+ payout boost, more tradable assets and exclusive perks
  • The web platform shines for its straightforward design and usability that will appeal to beginners looking to speculate on popular financial markets in a few clicks
  • The MetaTrader platforms offer integrated analysis with helpful technical summaries for short-term traders

Cons

  • Pocket Option offers a slimmed down iteration of the MT4 and MT5 that doesn't provide the full charting package for advanced traders
  • The MISA is a weak regulator with limited investor protection for retail traders
  • You need to deposit $1000 to access the extended list of 250+ assets, otherwise just 130+ assets are available

IQCent

"IQCent will appeal to day traders looking for a straightforward binary options and CFD trading platform with low fees, a range of accounts, and copy trading. Getting started takes less than 1 minute and a $250 deposit. "

Jemma Grist, Reviewer

IQCent Quick Facts

Bonus Offer20% to 200% Deposit Bonus
Demo AccountYes
InstrumentsBinary Options, CFDs, Forex, Indices, Commodities, Crypto
RegulatorIFMRRC
PlatformsOnline Platform, TradingView
Minimum Deposit$250
Minimum Trade$0.01
Leverage1:500
Account CurrenciesUSD, EUR

Pros

  • Keen traders can take part in trading contests with cash prizes
  • IQCent is one of the few binary options brokers that also offers a copy trading service for hands-off traders
  • The broker's 24/7 customer support is fast and reliable, responding within 1 minute during tests

Cons

  • There's no automated trading support for algo traders
  • The market analysis is very basic with limited technical summaries and insights from analysts
  • The broker is not overseen by a respected regulator, though this is common among binary options firms

RedMars

"RedMars is the best fit for experienced day traders familiar with the MetaTrader 5 platform and based in the EU, where the broker is authorized by the CySEC. However, the threadbare education and research tools make it unsuitable for beginners."

Christian Harris, Reviewer

RedMars Quick Facts

Demo AccountYes
InstrumentsCFDs, Forex, Stocks, Indices, Commodities, Cryptos
RegulatorCySEC
PlatformsMT5
Minimum Deposit€250
Minimum Trade0.01 Lots
Leverage1:30 (Retail), 1:500 (Pro)
Account CurrenciesUSD, EUR

Pros

  • RedMars offers one of the best platforms for day trading, MT5, hosting 21 timeframes, dozens of analytical tools, flexible templates and algo trading
  • The broker supports a range of flexible payment methods, including wire transfers, credit cards, e-wallets, and notably cryptocurrencies
  • The broker is one of a limited number of firms to offer an account specially designed for VIPs with premium support and invites to exclusive events

Cons

  • RedMars falls short for newer traders, with little in the way of education, no beginner-friendly platform, a steep minimum deposit, and inadequate support during testing
  • The no-frills trading environment offers little beyond the basics, with no Islamic account, PAMM account or copy trading.
  • While RedMars' spreads are within industry averages, they don't offer a significant edge over the cheapest day trading brokers we've personally used, notably IC Markets

Interactive Brokers

"Interactive Brokers is one of the best brokers for advanced day traders, providing powerful charting platforms, real-time data, and customizable layouts, notably through the new IBKR Desktop application. Its superb pricing and advanced order options also make it highly attractive for day traders, while its diverse range of equities is still among the best in the industry."

Christian Harris, Reviewer

Interactive Brokers Quick Facts

Demo AccountYes
InstrumentsStocks, Options, Futures, Forex, Funds, Bonds, ETFs, Mutual Funds, CFDs, Cryptocurrencies
RegulatorFCA, SEC, FINRA, CFTC, CBI, CIRO, SFC, MAS, MNB, FINMA
PlatformsTrader Workstation (TWS), IBKR Desktop, GlobalTrader, Mobile, Client Portal, AlgoTrader, OmniTrader, eSignal, TradingCentral
Minimum Deposit$0
Minimum Trade$100
Leverage1:50
Account CurrenciesUSD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, INR, JPY, SEK, NOK, DKK, CHF, AED, HUF

Pros

  • With low commissions, tight spreads and a transparent fee structure, IBKR delivers a cost-effective environment for short-term traders.
  • The new IBKR Desktop platform takes the best of TWS while adding bespoke tools like Option Lattice and Screeners with MultiSort to create a genuinely impressive trading experience for day traders at every level.
  • IBKR is one of the most respected and trusted brokerages and is regulated by top-tier authorities, so you can have confidence in the integrity and security of your trading account.

Cons

  • Support can be slow and frustrating based on tests, so you might find it challenging to reach customer service representatives promptly or encounter delays in resolving issues.
  • IBKR provides a wide range of research tools, but their distribution across trading platforms and the web-based 'Account Management' page lacks consistency, leading to a confusing user experience.
  • TWS’s learning curve is steep, and beginners may find it challenging to navigate the platform and understand all the features. Plus500's web platform is much better suited to new traders.

What is ESMA?

Let’s take the most straightforward of ESMA definitions; it’s a supervisory authority that works to safeguard consumers while strengthening financial markets in the EU. It is actually one of three relatively new European Supervisory Authorities.

Its remit covers a whole host of areas within regulated markets. In fact, it helps with everything from promoting transparency and preventing market abuse to distributing transaction reporting guidelines. The regulatory agency also takes an interest in new issues, such as the blockchain cryptocurrency Bitcoin and the growth of binary options.

ESMA regulations

See below for a comprehensive break down of ESMA duties and regulations.

Purpose

The main objectives of ESMA regulations are:

Those aims mean their opinions, decisions and judgements must reflect the interests of the following areas and stakeholders:

When ESMA was set up, one of its key missions was to regulate credit rating agencies. This is because, in 2010, credit rating agencies were frequently in the news for a lack of transparency and potential conflicts of interests.

It’s also worth noting to fulfil its aims it works closely with other European Supervisory Authorities in banking (EBA), as well as insurance and occupational pensions (EIOPA). Its approval and recommendations in all areas are of increasing importance.

ESMA Compliant Brokers

Click a broker for details
  1. 1
    FOREX.com
    Active Trader Program With A 15% Reduction In Costs

    Ratings
    4.9 / 5
    4 / 5
    4.3 / 5
    4.6 / 5
    4.6 / 5
    4.3 / 5
    4.8 / 5
    4.5 / 5
    3.6 / 5
    3.8 / 5

    $100
    0.01 Lots
    1:50
    NFA, CFTC
    Forex, Stocks, Futures, Futures Options
    MT4, MT5, TradingView, eSignal, AutoChartist, TradingCentral
    Wire Transfer, Credit Card, Debit Card, Visa, Mastercard, Skrill, Neteller, ACH Transfer
    USD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, JPY, CHF, PLN
  2. 2
    NinjaTrader

    Ratings
    4.3 / 5
    2.8 / 5
    2.9 / 5
    4.3 / 5
    4.5 / 5
    4 / 5
    4 / 5
    3.5 / 5
    3 / 5
    3.2 / 5

    $0
    0.01 Lots
    1:50
    NFA, CFTC
    Forex, Stocks, Options, Commodities, Futures, Crypto
    NinjaTrader Desktop, Web & Mobile, eSignal
    ACH Transfer, Debit Card, Wire Transfer
    USD
  3. 3
    eToro USA
    Invest $100 and get $10
    https://www.daytrading.com/ is not an affiliate and may be compensated if you access certain products or services offered by the MSB and/or the BD.

    Ratings
    4.3 / 5
    3 / 5
    3.9 / 5
    3.4 / 5
    4 / 5
    3 / 5
    4.3 / 5
    4.5 / 5
    4.3 / 5
    4 / 5

    $10
    $10
    SEC, FINRA
    Stocks, Options, ETFs, Crypto
    eToro Trading Platform & CopyTrader
    ACH Transfer, Debit Card, PayPal, Wire Transfer
    USD
  4. 4
    OANDA US
    CFDs are not available to residents in the United States.

    Ratings
    4.5 / 5
    3.5 / 5
    2.8 / 5
    4 / 5
    4.5 / 5
    3.5 / 5
    4.3 / 5
    3.8 / 5
    4.7 / 5
    3.7 / 5

    $0
    0.01 Lots
    1:50
    NFA, CFTC
    Forex, Crypto with Paxos (Cryptocurrencies are offered through Paxos. Paxos is a separate legal entity from OANDA)
    OANDA Trade, MT4, TradingView, AutoChartist
    Wire Transfer, Visa, Mastercard, Debit Card, ACH Transfer
    USD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, JPY, CHF, HKD, SGD

History

ESMA came to life following the recommendations of the 2009 de Larosière report. In the report, proposals were made for the creation of a decentralised European System of Financial Supervision (ESFS).

ESMA set to work on January 1st, 2001, following the announcement it would replace the Committee of European Securities Regulators (CESR), a network of EU authorities that advised the commission.

Structure

ESMA is an independent body with head offices in Paris. However, it does have accountability to the European Parliament where it answers to the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON). In addition, the body has full accountability to both Council of the European Union and European Commission. ESMA has to report on its activities regularly at meetings and in a final Annual Report, including inducements on:

As the website details, the Board of Supervisors must make all policy decisions and approve ESMA’s regulations. The board consists of:

A management board made up of ESMA’s chair, as well as nominees from national supervisory authorities and Commission representatives see to it the regulatory agency meets its responsibilities.

Powers & Responsibilities

ESMA’s duties and powers extend far beyond finance education and investment advice. In fact, the regulatory agency seeks to meet its objectives via four activities:

1. Measuring Risk

ESMA measures risk to investors, consumers and market stability. It aims to spot potential threats and vulnerabilities from reportable instruments. This then enables preventative action to be taken to avoid problems that threaten investors or market stability.

To do this, it uses MiFID II guidelines, databases and can call for evidence. It also uses risk assessments from other European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) and National Competent Authorities (NCAs). Both of which adds to the efforts of the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB).

ESMA also helps implement stress testing. The results of a second stress test were published in 2018 in an attempt to assess the stability of the EU Central Counterparties (CCP) industry. They also help to hone in on potential vulnerabilities.

This all allows them to offer guidance on transaction reporting, remuneration, compliance functions, complex debt instruments, market abuse regulation and more.

2. Rulebook

ESMA also hopes to create a comprehensive rulebook for EU financial markets. This aims to create equal opportunities for investors and issuers across the EU. To build this book of regulations, ESMA develops Technical Standards by advising EU bodies on legislation. This was one of the key ESMA roles during the development phase.

3. Supervisory Convergence

ESMA works to ensure consistent implementation of the same regulations across all 28 Member States. For example, this means issuing notifications of leverage caps, validation rules and ensuring all abide by liquidity thresholds.

If it works, this can help share best practices and decrease inefficiency. And all while promoting a level playing field for market participants.

To help it achieve this aim, ESMA:

ESMA also plays a role in supervisory colleges for CCPs. This adds to supervisory convergence.

4. Supervising Financial Institutions

ESMA has supervisory powers over Credit Rating Agencies (CRAs) and Trade Repositories (TRs). Both of which play integral parts in the EU’s market infrastructure.

All four activities overlap and work towards the overarching aims of protecting consumers while promoting stable markets.

In 2012 ESMA was also asked by the EC to offer technical advice on the equivalence between some non-EU countries regulations and the EU framework. For example, were there any conflicting reporting requirements from investment firms?

ESMA Restrictions

It’s worth noting ESMA does not have the power to take action against market actors, except CRAs and TRs. So if you have problems with negative balance protection or complex products, you will need to direct your complaints elsewhere. You may be best off approaching the relevant national authority.

Note there is also a Whistleblowing corner when you can report violations, such as securitisation issues.

Criticisms of ESMA

Proposals to expand ESMA’s jurisdiction have been met with far-reaching criticism. Following Brexit, some want to use ESMA to help position France as the finance capital of Europe. In fact, France has already made some progress in this area after winning the bid to host the London-based European Banking Authority after the UK leaves in 2019.

The regulatory agency itself has also seen substantial expansion since its launch in 2011. This is in part due to the significant revision of market regulations, best known as MiFID II. Many argue further expansion proposals would see ESMA become the equivalent of the US SEC and the UK’s FCA.

The proposals would see ESMA as the EU benchmark for regulations. The body would also receive greater powers to tackle market abuse and limit the use of products thought to be too risky.

Events, press office releases and statements make it clear that many strongly oppose anymore ESMA expansion. This is because it is thought the move would cut into the rule-making powers of national authorities. In addition, it would lead to excessive and expensive bureaucracy.

Resources

Despite some criticism, ESMA is very proficient in one area, and that’s access to data and information. Simply head over to the official website to find AIFMD key concepts guidelines, for example. You can also find leverage proposals, product intervention notifications and recent CFD announcements.

On top of that, you will find waivers, volume cap reports, disclosure requirements, plus volatility bands and the benchmark administrator register.

Recent Performance

ESMA has been highly active in its relatively short life. One of the main things it has done is seek opinions from delegations on market transparency, as well as a whole range of other issues. For example, it consults on CFD and binary options measures. It has also held a huge number of Q&As on:

In 2015, ESMA’s activities led to enforcement action being taken against 43 of 206 listed issuers. They found issues with:

2016 then saw a 10% increase in the action taken. Most infringements were found in relation to:

As ESMA’s knowledge and competence continue to grow, they may receive greater powers to enforce regulations. But for now, a lot of work is done on consulting about trading obligations and reporting in the list of EU regulated markets.

Final Thoughts on ESMA

The ESMA system is a network that unites European and national regulators, as well as supervisory authorities. There is no doubt their regulations aim to protect investors and encourage stable markets. However, much of Europe still currently resists the idea of a single EU rulebook and financial name, wanting to retain some national authority and power. So it is currently difficult to predict what the future of ESMA will look like or how extensive their regulatory powers may grow.