Who regulates forex brokers, and what difference is there between a regulated and unregulated broker? Regulations differ around the world, but wherever you are, the most important thing to remember is to never trade through an unregulated broker.
Let’s get one thing clear: if you lose money on a legitimate forex interaction, no authority will “get your money back”. Even highly regulated and respected brokers come with the risk inherent in all trading activities. However, using a broker governed by forex broker regulations means that you can be confident your investments are protected from fraudulent activities.
Top Tier Forex Market Regulatory Bodies and Organizations
- FCA – Financial Conduct Authority of United Kingdom
- BaFIN – The Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht (Germany)
- CFTC – Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (United States)
- CySec – Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission
- ASIC – Australian Securities and Investments Commission
- MAS – Monetary Authority of Singapore
- FSA – Financial Services Agency of Japan
Here’s a guide to regulatory bodies by region.
Forex Regulatory Bodies Around the World
You must always ensure that your broker is regulated in your region. Many trustworthy platforms will refuse to offer services based on geolocation, but remember that if you try to trade on a platform that isn’t regulated in your region, your investments won’t be protected, and you could face serious consequences.
There’s a common misconception that trading forex is illegal in the U.S. This isn’t true – you can legally trade forex in the United States. The caveat is that many well-known European brokers aren’t licensed to operate in the U.S. because its forex regulatory bodies do not cover them.
NFA – National Futures Association USA
The National Futures Association (NFA) is broadly responsible for ensuring that trading platforms are transparent and that their users’ investments are protected. It works with financial services to identify dubious activity and ensure that regulated brokers don’t offer or support fraudulent promotions.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is another organization that regulates U.S. platforms. It issues industry-wide standards such as the maximum leverage available for forex trading in the U.S. It also mandates that platforms submit regular financial reports and show evidence that they have sufficient capital to manage their clients’ investments.
The U.S. is one of the most strictly regulated markets worldwide. This is good news – it means that U.S. traders can be confident that their investments are protected. If you’re trading forex in the U.S., always check that these bodies regulate your broker.
European Forex Legislative Framework
Europe boasts an enormous forex trading market. There are many national regulatory bodies in the E.U. – for example, the Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht (BaFin) in Germany regulates forex brokers in Germany and also every online broker in Germany.
Of these, CySEC is arguably the best-known. If a broker is regulated by one financial conduct authority in the E.U., it’s permitted to trade within all E.U. member states. The majority of forex brokers obtain their E.U. license through CySEC.
MiFID II & EMSA
The European Securities & Market Authority (ESMA) is responsible for E.U. regulations on brokers. In 2018, it updated the Markets in Instruments Financial Directive (MiFID II) to increase the transparency required of any platform operating in the E.U. Since then, Europe has become one of the best-regulated markets for forex trading worldwide.
In the U.K., platforms were previously able to trade using a CySEC or other E.U. license.
However, since Brexit, platforms have needed a separate license to operate in the U.K. and must be approved by its regulatory body. This is the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
The FCA is highly respected for its approach to consumer protection – this is important because the U.K. is the world’s largest forex market. The Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) is another body that determines best practices for trading platforms and protects consumers from risk.
U.K. traders should always check if their platform is FCA-regulated in addition to its E.U. supervision.
Check out FCA regulated brokers list.
The Central Bank of Singapore called Monetary Authority Singapore (MAS) is the main regulator.
Check out MAS regulated forex brokers.
United Arab Emirates
Forex trading in UAE is regulated by the following organizations:
- CBUAE – Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates with the seat in Abu Dhabi
- DFSA – Dubai Financial Services Authority
- SCA – Abu Dhabi Securities Commision
Trading in Australia is regulated by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC). Many platforms that trade worldwide are licensed by ASIC and CySEC or another Euro regulator and the FCA for U.K. trading – this is a kind of “gold standard” for most online brokers.
ASIC licenses brokers based on stringent requirements and requires them to submit regular financial reports and work with leading banks. It’s a highly-trusted body.
Here is the full list of ASIC regulated forex brokers.
Platforms operating in South Africa must obtain approval from the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA). As the South African forex market grows, more global platforms are applying for licensure by the FSCA – make sure it’s listed if you’re a South Africa-based trader.
Here is the full list of FSCA regulated forex brokers.
How to Check Where a Forex Broker is Regulated: A Summary
Top platforms will either present this information on their homepage or have a designated “licensing & regulation” section on their websites. Ensure that whichever body regulates your chosen broker covers your particular jurisdiction – “E.U.” doesn’t mean all of continental Europe, nor does “U.S.” mean all of North America!
Most important, never trade on a platform that isn’t regulated by a well-known authority. It’s the best way to protect yourself while trading forex to avoid scams and losing your investments to a scheme.
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