Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) 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 Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is responsible for regulating financial services in the UK, from banks to day trading brokers. This guide will cover what a licence from the FCA means, as well as the trading benefits of registering with an FCA regulated brokerage. Along the way, we will also cover the group’s history, specific rules and regulations, plus key terms and current complaints. We have also compiled a list of the best FCA-regulated brokers.

The Best FCA Brokers

We have reviewed over 450 brokers as of July 2024 and have determined that these are the 4 best FCA brokers on the market:

Click a broker for details
  1. 1
    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
  2. 2
    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
  3. 3
    Gemini

    Ratings
    2 / 5
    3 / 5
    2 / 5
    2.5 / 5
    3 / 5
    2 / 5
    2.5 / 5
    3 / 5
    0 / 5
    0 / 5

    $0
    0.00001 BTC
    NYDFS, MAS, FCA
    Cryptos
    ActiveTrader, AlgoTrader, TradingView
    Bitcoin Payments, Credit Card, Wire Transfer, Visa, Mastercard, Silvergate Bank Transfer, Ethereum Payments, ACH Transfer, PayPal, Etana
    USD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, HKD, SGD
  4. 4
    Kraken
    Lower fees when trading volume exceeds $50,000 in 30 days

    $10
    Variable
    FCA, FinCEN, FINTRAC, AUSTRAC, FSA
    Cryptos
    AlgoTrader
    Bitcoin Payments, Wire Transfer, PayID, Silvergate Bank Transfer, Etana, Ethereum Payments
    USD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, JPY, CHF

Here is a summary of why we recommend these brokers:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Gemini - Gemini is a cryptocurrency exchange set up in 2014 by the Winklevoss brothers, known for their early involvement in Facebook. The exchange is among the world’s 20 largest and most popular. Gemini clients can trade and stake 110+ cryptocurrencies, with derivatives trading available in some jurisdictions, an advanced proprietary platform and additional features including an NFT marketplace.
  4. Kraken - Kraken is a leading cryptocurrency exchange with a proprietary trading terminal and a list of 220+ tradeable crypto tokens. Up to 1:5 leverage is available with stable rollover fees on spot crypto trading and up to 1:50 on futures. The exchange also supports crypto staking and has an interactive NFT marketplace.

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
  • IG offers an extensive collection of professional and engaging educational resources, including webinars, articles, and analysis
  • 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 has discontinued its swap-free account, reducing its appeal to Islamic traders
  • While there is negative balance protection in the UK and EU, there is no account protection or guaranteed stop losses for US clients
  • IG applies an inactivity fee of $12 per month after 2 years, deterring casual investors

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

  • The TWS platform has clearly been built for intermediate and advanced traders and comes with over 100 order types and a reliable real-time market data feed that rarely goes offline.
  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • You can only have one active session per account, so you can’t have your desktop program and mobile app running simultaneously, making for a sometimes frustrating trading experience.

Gemini

"Gemini’s ActiveTrader platform and TradingView integration make it a good choice for serious crypto traders seeking a reliable charting environment, though we were disappointed by some unnecessary fees and previous security breaches."

Michael MacKenzie, Reviewer

Gemini Quick Facts

Demo AccountNo
InstrumentsCryptos
RegulatorNYDFS, MAS, FCA
PlatformsActiveTrader, AlgoTrader, TradingView
Minimum Deposit$0
Minimum Trade0.00001 BTC
Account CurrenciesUSD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, HKD, SGD

Pros

  • The exchange ensures high security standards with 2FA a requirement for all crypto investors
  • There is a decent range of educational guides and tutorials suitable for beginners
  • The TradingView integration delivers top-quality tools, including backtesting and algo trading capabilities

Cons

  • There is no practice profile or demo account for prospective traders
  • The exchange has a history of concerning incidents including the collapse of its Earn program and a phishing breach
  • Some larger coins by market cap are not available to buy through Gemini

Kraken

"Kraken will suit traders looking for a diverse list of cryptos including Bitcoin and a good security track record."

William Berg, Reviewer

Kraken Quick Facts

Bonus OfferLower fees when trading volume exceeds $50,000 in 30 days
Demo AccountYes
InstrumentsCryptos
RegulatorFCA, FinCEN, FINTRAC, AUSTRAC, FSA
PlatformsAlgoTrader
Minimum Deposit$10
Minimum TradeVariable
Account CurrenciesUSD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, JPY, CHF

Pros

  • Low minimum deposit of $10
  • Low exchange fees on Kraken Pro
  • 3D secure required

Cons

  • Slow verification process on Pro account
  • Low leverage on spot trading
  • Does not accept fiat deposits

What is the FCA?

Operating independently from the UK Government, the FCA is one of the most prestigious regulatory bodies in the world. In fact, the regulations of the FCA help govern over 56,000 financial services firms.
FCA regulations

As their official website states, key objectives include:

These all fall under the overarching objective to ensure the functionality of financial markets within the UK. But while the definition and meanings may be simple, preventing market abuse and implementing new regulations can prove challenging, as will be shown below.

Note the agency has the authorisation to regulate both retail and wholesale financial services firms.

Structure

The FCA is a limited company by guarantee. The majority of its funding comes from charging fees to members of the finance industry. The amount regulated entities pay depends on the activities undertaken, the scale of those activities and the costs incurred by the FCA.

Note that the FCA must also keep in line with EU MiFID II regulations and guidelines. This means watch lists and regulated markets can change with notifications of new deadlines and outcomes from the EU framework. This can affect everything from short positions to commodity position limits.

See ESMA’s website for a summary of MiFID II regulations.

History

The FCA is a relatively new body that came to life on April 1st, 2013. Its predecessor was the Financial Services Authority (FSA). But when the Financial Services Act came into force, the FSA was abolished and a new regulatory structure was created, including the FCA.

There was then a merging of FCA/FSA legislation and regulations. Although the structure was to change, the approach to consumers and competition remained similar. In addition, the handbook, conduct rules and objectives all retained a likeness.

However, despite similarities, the Financial Services act brought in some significant changes to the scope of the FCA. This was to ensure the financial sector could better manage risk following the 2008 financial crisis.

A quick search online and you will see the FCA has made the news in recent years for several reasons. Firstly, because the body is particularly active and tougher than many similar regulatory agencies in Europe. In fact, the FCA has given out a number of substantial fines to forex brokers for price manipulations and acting without the interests of consumers in mind.

The regulatory agency has also made the news for attempting to implement checks and balances on binary options and cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin. It has done this using 2017 and 2018 regulations, official warning lists and more.

Note in 2018 FCA headquarters were to move from Canary Wharf to Stratford, London. Having said that, they also have offices in locations such as Edinburgh, Scotland.

Responsibilities & Powers

So what powers and responsibilities do the FCA have? With ensuring the functionality of financial markets being such a broad objective, the body has extensive powers and duties.

Introducing forex regulations, principles for algorithmic trading businesses and blockchain companies could all fall under their remit. On top of that, ensuring data protection, removing financial promotions and protecting vulnerable customers all form part of the body’s role.

Specific examples of the latest and upcoming FCA regulations also include:

The FCA has a range of measures it can take when a broker breaches compliance regulations. This can include warning notices and new reporting requirements, all the way up to hefty fines and the banning of products. Unsurprisingly, it is the latter measures that often hit regulated brokers where it hurts most. This is perhaps why the regulatory agency gave out a staggering £229,515,303 in fines during 2017.

The FCA also has more middle ground powers, such as the temporary suspension of trading accounts. A power they used when Plus500’s less than stringent documentation requirements failed to protect against customer losses and prevent money laundering.

Criticisms

Despite a whole host of sales, lending, accounts, data security and client money regulations, the FCA still faces criticism.

Inaction

In June of 2013, the Parliamentary Commission for Banking Standards said “The interest rate swap scandal has cost small businesses dearly. Many had no concept of the instrument they were being pressured to buy. This applies to embedded swaps as much as standalone products. The response by the FSA and FCA has been inadequate. If, as they claim, the regulators do not have the power to deal with these abuses, then it is for the Government and Parliament to ensure that the regulators have the powers they need to enable restitution to be made for this egregious mis-selling”.

Personnel

There have also been complaints about the choice of personnel at the top of the FCA. For example, there were numerous calls for the resignation of the chairman John Griffith-Jones as he was responsible for HBOS audit when chairman at KPMG during the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

In addition, many were unhappy about the choice of chief executive, Martin Wheatley. This is because of his role in the minibond fiasco in Hong Kong. In fact, there were no pre-appointment hearings for either of these placements, so people were unable to officially disapprove.

Price

There is an issue with fees. Obtaining an FCA license is relatively expensive compared to the likes of CySEC. As a result, many brokers pursue a CySEC licence so they can save money and meet lower entry requirements. What does it mean for consumers? Unfortunately, this results in less choice for consumers who want the extensive protections the FCA promises.

Lastly, it has also been said that the website and statutory regulations do not go far enough to ensure transparency and fair advertising.

FCA Responses

Despite the above, it’s worth noting the FCA has taken steps to address some of the issues above. For example, the regulatory body saw three new CEOs in the space of a year. It has also brought in new guidelines, listing rules and qualification requirements for brokers.

In addition, the regulatory body is making fewer exemptions and coming down hard on unauthorised firms. In fact, they publish public warnings and hold press releases to make consumers aware of fraudulent brokers and scams.

They have also sought to make it clear with what it stands for through its mission statement. At the same time, its employees are undertaking training to enforce effective banking and payment account rules, as well as transparency regulations.

So despite complaints on regulations, for the FCA to have achieved so much following the crisis of 2008 remains fairly impressive.

Final Thoughts

This page has given you an overview of FCA regulations and their meaning. One key point to take away is that the FCA is a benchmark in terms of regulations.

This is particularly the case when compared to other bodies, such as Cyprus’s CySEC. In fact, as one of the oldest and most reputable regulatory agencies, a huge number of brokers pursue an application for an FCA license.

Note you can connect with the FCA via their helpline or website if you have any complaints. Visit their website here.

Also, before you sign up with a new broker, check they are qualified and regulated by the FCA. You can do this by running their license number through the official FCA website.