How Our Methodology & Quantitative Scoring Works

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When we include providers on the Good Money Guide you can be sure that we have full faith in their products and services. In this guide, we explain how we review, test and compare each provider and how our ratings are scored.

How we review providers

Our methodology for reviewing investing, trading and currency accounts includes:

  • Our own experiences testing the platforms with real money – we always open real accounts and deposit funds to test functionality
  • An in-depth comparison of the features that make them stand out compared to alternatives.
  • Interviews with the company CEOs and senior management
  • We also take into account the feedback provided from over 17,000 user reviews in our annual awards survey
"Our expert broker reviews look at the elements of an account that are most important to investors and traders include how much it costs, what products and services are offered, and if they are any good. We also include the findings of our survey over 17,000 clients which is designed to give our readers some insight into brokers and platforms they may decide to use for trading and investing. "

What we compare

When we test investing, trading and currency transfer accounts we always look at:

  • Pricing
  • Market Access
  • Online Platforms & Apps
  • Customer Service
  • Research & Analysis


How much do they cost?

This is perhaps the most important aspect of choosing a provider as using a broker that offers the cheapest trading costs could help you make a profit on your trading faster, or help your investments grow further. An expensive broker can reduce profits and increase losses. In our comparison tables, you can see which broker has lower costs and therefore choose the broker that makes it possible to buy and sell at better prices, as well as which investing platform has the lowest annual running costs.

We compare the trading costs of brokers by looking at the top ten traded instruments in the most popular asset classes and calculating an average score as well as looking at the most popular assets within those markets giving a weighted score to compare trading costs.

It’s important to note, that you shouldn’t choose your trading broker on price alone.

Sometimes the cheapest broker may not offer access to all the markets you want, they may charge hefty inactivity or overnight fees or at worst, they may not be properly regulated. To help get the best broker, you should consider everything, as well as price when making your decision.

Account Fees & Overnight Financing

Pricing refers to the cost of dealing or converting money, whereas account fees and overnight financing refer to the cost of holding your positions or investments with a provider. There will be ongoing safe custody and overnight funding fees to consider.

It is important to compare trading platform’s overnight charges as this is how much you will pay to hold a position for more than one day. If you are not intra-day trading and hold positions overnight, you will be aware that trading platforms can charge fees every night to keep trades open. Overnight financing charges are often considered a hidden cost and many traders do not include them in their P&L calculations. These costs can quickly add up, especially if you hold long-term trading positions, so it is better to trade with a trading platform that offers lower overnight finance trading costs. Here’s more on overnight financing.

How our pricing quantitative scores work:

  1. Prohibitively expensive – avoid
  2. Expensive compared to peers
  3. Industry-standard
  4. Low-cost provider
  5. Free (or zero cost to the user as they charge elsewhere)

Market Access

What can you do and how can you do it?

Some providers only offer a small selection of managed funds, others offer access to every company listed on the global stock markets. If you want to make your own decisions, an account that offers wide market access is more appropriate, but if you are a beginner and just want an expert to invest for you a managed account is more appropriate.

Range of investments 

The number of markets a trading platform lets you access can be important because it allows traders like you to diversify your activity and portfolio. This will help you spread risk among different asset classes and markets. Trading platforms that offer the most markets can increase the potential trading opportunities available to you and may reduce the need to choose a secondary trading platform.

Account Types

Different account types are important because a diverse range of account types can offer different ways for you to speculate on the markets. Certain trading types offer better tax efficiency e.g. financial spread betting vs CFD trading, more risk mitigation options through features like hedging facilities and extra leverage with professionally categorised trading accounts and short-term trading. Some trading brokers also offer access to investing and various investment accounts for you to choose from including; stocks and shares ISAs and SIPPs (Self Invested Personal Pensions).

Leverage & Margin

Trading on margin will let you speculate on more with less in funding behind you, provided you are experienced enough to trade with leverage.  The FCA has capped margin levels for retail clients but trading platforms that offer professional trading accounts are able to offer increased leverage.  Comparing the margin and leverage levels of the brokers you are considering because it is an effective way to understand which trading platform you will be able to gain more exposure to the markets with the least amount of risk capital. More leverage means you can have a more diversified trading portfolio, or speculate with greater risk.

How our market access quantitative scores work:

  1. Severely limited – avoid
  2. Limited compared to peers
  3. Most popular products only
  4. Appropriate market access for product
  5. Complete market access

Online Platforms & Apps

What is execution like?

We always test a provider’s platform and apps with real money as this is the backbone of their service and what most users will interact with on a daily basis. Essentially, all investing, trading and currency transfer providers offer the same thing, which is, access to the markets. Their platform and apps are a good indication of how they do it. Some are very professional for active investors, and others are very user-friendly for beginners.

Offering a variety of trading platforms is important because it can help you execute different trading strategies like trading with algorithms, automated buy and sell orders, trailing stops, copy trading or direct market access. Offering you access to trading platforms on mobile phones and tablets can help you trade on the move and mean you are always connected to the markets.

How our platform and app quantitative scores work:

  1. Bad – avoid
  2. Functional but difficult to use
  3. User-friendly, but lacking features
  4. Suitable for most types of user
  5. Professional and institutional grade

Customer Service & Reviews

Can they give you help when you need it?

Being able to get in touch quickly with a broker is vital to customer services. Many providers now fail to offer phone support and rely on chatbots. This can be very frustrating for users, as especially when customers generally only need to get in touch when that is a problem.

Customer reviews can be an important tool to help you understand how satisfied users are with a broker you are considering. Reviews can provide valuable insight into what fellow traders like and dislike about a trading platform you are looking at. We consider authentic, verified customer reviews left by Good Money Guide visitors, the Trustpilot rating of the broker, and reviews and ratings found for the broker’s trading apps on Apple App Store and Google Play. These often give insight into how well a company treats their customers.

Corporate History

The more established a trading platform is the more visible, transparent and trusted by the financial community it becomes. The FCA keeps public files on what type of regulation trading brokers have and if they have ever been fined for misconduct. Established trading platforms have a long track record of financial stability through publishing their accounts to Companies House in the UK.

The most established trading platforms are also public companies listed on the London Stock Exchange or other international exchanges where you can buy and sell their shares giving some good insight into the financial health of a broker and an indication of how safe it is to hold your money with them.

Our Award ceremonies are run regularly too; checking award winners from previous years can help you get an idea of which brokers are popular, why their customers like them and which trading types they are best used for.

How our customer services quantitative scores work:

  1. No customer support available- avoid
  2. Automated chat box, with email follow-ups
  3. Slow digital support only
  4. Quick responses from human agents on a chat box or via email
  5. Phone support and the ability to quickly get through to a human or relationship manager

Research & Analysis

Does your broker add value?

One aspect of our reviews and ratings focus on whether or not your broker can help you be a better trader, pick the right investments and time a currency transaction. When a broker offers regularly updated analysis, trading signals, stock screeners and advisory services they can help you manage your investments correctly.

It is important to compare the added value that trading platforms provide as free additions to trading platforms like analysis, news, research, charting tools and personal service can help improve trading opportunities and reduce the need to pay for external third-party software.

In some cases, trading platforms will include paid-for premium third-party services in their platform if traders execute a certain amount of trades or have a certain amount of funds on account. Trading platforms are not allowed to provide trading ideas but can use technical analysis to highlight potential trading opportunities.

How our research and analysis quantitative scores work:

  1. No added value – avoid
  2. Box ticking analysis and commentary
  3. Third-party research tools and written analysis
  4. A wide range of tools that can help you make better decisions
  5. Unique research tools with constantly updated expert analysis

Ready to read our reviews?

To see what we think of providers you can either use our account finder or go direct to the relevant review sections below.

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