Professional trading accounts offer sophisticated and experienced investors higher leverage, lower costs, and wider market access. We have ranked, compared and reviewed some of the best professional trading accounts in the UK to help you choose the most appropriate account for your trading strategy.

Best Professional Trading Accounts

Our picks for the best professional trading accounts are based on over 7,000 votes in our annual awards, our own experiences testing the accounts as well as an in-depth comparison of the features that make them stand out compared to alternatives.

  1. City Index – best for professional trading signals and post-trade analysis
  2. IG – excellent market access for pro traders
  3. CMC Markets – good sentiment indicators for professional traders
  4. Pepperstone – lots of indicators on MT4/MT5
  5. Saxo Markets – OTC &  DMA (direct market access) platform
  6. Interactive Brokers – appropriate for institutional DMA & professional trading platform

Professional Trading Account Reviews

Our professional trading platform reviews are a combination of expert testing, data analysis, CEO interviews, product and feature comparison as well as a survey of thousands of traders proving their opinion on what they think is the best professional trading platform in the UK.

All brokers in our professional trading account list are regulated by the FCA and offer higher leverage to traders that can prove they are of professional status. In some cases, these brokers will offer discounted commission rates for high-volume traders.

City Index Professional Trading Account

Pros

✔️ Trading signals
✔️ Post-trade analysis
✔️ Wide range of markets
✔️ UK based

Cons

❌ No DMA
❌ No investment options
❌ No futures & options

City Index Professional Account Review

City offers a professional account to qualifying traders who need to demonstrate a combination of experience, knowledge, trading activity and wealth.

Professional clients are exempt from the FCA/ESMA margin restrictions and can thus gain access to much higher levels of gearing in their trading. For example, margin rates for major equity indices are as low as 0.25% or 400:to1

Professional clients can earn £1000.00 by switching to City Index. They also get access to a dedicated client relationship manager credit facilities and hospitality when available.

Professional clients won’t receive benefits such as negative balance protection, meaning they can lose more than their stake or deposit, and Cityindex can treat them as experts, and use different language and terminology with them than they would when communicating with a retail customer.

74% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider

IG Professional Trading Account

Pros

✔️ Biggest market range
✔️ High levels of liquidity
✔️ DMA accounts
✔️ Investment accounts

Cons

❌ Customer service can be slow
❌ No futures and options
❌ Almost too big

IG Professional Account Review

As well as retail trading accounts IG also offers an account for professional traders. Professional traders are not subject to the FCA / ESMA margin restrictions and can trade some additional products which are not available to retail customers because of their complexity and risk profile.
To qualify as a professional trader you will need to demonstrate sufficient experience and trading activity as well as a portfolio of liquid and tradeable investments of €500,000 or equivalents.

Professional clients can apply much higher levels of leverage in their trading than retail customers can, and margin rates can be up to 90% lower for professional customers.

Professional clients physical stock holdings can be pledged as collateral against their margin trading activity they may also be able to access trading credit and commission/ spread rebates

Professional clients are not afforded all of the protections that are due to retail clients. Professional clients do not receive negative balance protection meaning they can lose more than their initial stake or account balance and professional clients are subject to a different set of best execution criteria than retail clients, whilst any documentation and product details they received can contain sophisticated language which they would be expected to understand.

Your capital is at risk. 73% of retail CFD accounts lose money

CMC Markets Professional Trading Account

Pros

✔️ Excellent sentiment tools
✔️ Wide range of markets
✔️ Tights spreads and low costs

Cons

❌ No investment account
❌ Limited shares on offer
❌ No DMA equities trading

CMC Markets Professional Account Review

CMC offers a dedicated account for professional clients as well those categorised as retail. To qualify as a Pro you will need to meet some strict criteria including having placed 10 trades of a “significant” size in a quarter during the last year, and have a portfolio of financial instruments worth €500,000, and or have worked in the financial sector for at least one year.

If you qualify for a pro account you will effectively be considered an expert trader and won’t be subject to the margin restrictions imposed by the FCA and ESMA though against that you won’t enjoy the same protections that retail clients do in terms of risk warnings and the language in financial communications or indeed enjoy negative balance protection.

Though your client money will still be segregated and you will still qualify for protection under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

66% of retail investor accounts lose money when spread betting and/or trading CFDs with this provider

Pepperstone Trading Platform

Pros

✔️ Tight spreads
✔️ Fast execution
✔️ Good MT4/MT5 trader tools

Cons

❌ Limited shares on offer
❌ No investment accounts
❌ Major markets only

79.3% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider

Saxo Markets Professional Trading Account

Pros

✔️ Professional-grade trading platform
✔️ Integrated research and analysis
✔️ Excellent market range
✔️ Investment account options

Cons

❌ Maybe too advanced for beginners
❌ No investment accounts
❌ Major markets only

70% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider

Markets.com Trading Platform

Pros

✔️ Blends and sector trading
✔️ Hegde fund sentiment analysis
✔️ TipRanks Integrated

Cons

❌ No investment accounts
❌ Analysis limited to US stocks
❌ HQ not in the UK

Markets.com Professional Account Review

Markets.com offers eligible traders the opportunity to open or elect upto a professional account in which you enjoy enhanced trading conditions compared to retail traders.

To qualify as a professional trader you will need to meet certain criteria around experience, market knowledge, trading activity and liquid net worth.

Markets.com looks for traders with a portfolio worth at least €500,000, and for clients who have had at least one year of experience within the financial services industry in a professional position.

Finally, you should be able to demonstrate that you have traded in the relevant markets in significant size, an average of 10 times per quarter, over the previous four quarters.

If you are eligible, then as a professional trader you won’t be subject to the FCA/ESMA margin restrictions but you will also lose some client protections and Markets.com can treat you as an expert in their communications with you.

77% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider

Spreadex Professional Trading Account

Pros

✔️ Excellent reputation and service
✔️ Sports trading also available
✔️ Smaller personal brokerage

Cons

❌ No investment accounts
❌ Some may be put off by sports
❌ Limited order types

Spreadex Professional Account Review

Spreadex offers a professional trading account for qualifying clients. To qualify for the account you will need to demonstrate experience and knowledge of geared products and financial markets, have a sizeable portfolio of liquid investable instruments or cash and have been trading actively in the last year.

Professional clients are not bound by the FCA/ESMA leverage restrictions and can potentially trade on credit with Spreadex. They also get access to the firm’s dedicated execution desk.

However professional clients don’t qualify for the same protections that retail traders do, such as negative balance protection meaning they could lose more than their deposits or stake. And they can be treated as experts by their broker in terms of the language and documentation they use with them.

69% of retail investors lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider

Compare Professional Trading Accounts

Use our professional trading account comparison to compare each provider by account types, what you can trade in, and fees. We only include providers that are authorised and regulated by the FCA where your funds are protected under the FSCS and where customers have voted for them in our awards survey.

Professional AccountAccount TypesMarkets AvailableMin Margin (Max Leverage)More Info

City Index

CFDs: Yes
Spread Betting: Yes
Direct Market Access: No
Pro Account: Yes
Investments: No
Futures & Options: No
Total Markets: 9,000
Forex Pairs: 182
Commodities: 19
Indices: 23
Cryptocurrencies: 6
UK Stocks: 5,000
US Stocks: 2,000
Average: 1.80% (211:1)
Major FX Pairs: 0.25% (250:1)
Major Indices: 0.25% (250:1)
Commodities: 0.5% (200:1)
Cryptocurrencies: 5% (20:1)
Shares: 3% (30:1)
See Offer70% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider

IG

CFDs: Yes
Spread Betting: Yes
Direct Market Access: Yes
Pro Account: Yes
Investments: Yes
Futures & Options: No
Total Markets: 17,000
Forex Pairs: 51
Commodities: 38
Indices: 34
Cryptocurrencies: 7
UK Stocks: 3,925
US Stocks: 6,352
Average: 3.15% (110:1)
Major FX Pairs: 0.45% (222:1)
Major Indices: 0.45% (222:1)
Commodities: 1.35% (158:1)
Cryptocurrencies: 4.5% (22:1)
Shares: 9% (11:1)
See OfferYour capital is at risk. 73% of retail CFD accounts lose money

CMC Markets

CFDs: Yes
Spread Betting: Yes
Direct Market Access: Yes
Pro Account: Yes
Investments: No
Futures & Options: No
Total Markets: 9,300
Forex Pairs: 338
Commodities: 124
Indices: 82
Cryptocurrencies: 18
UK Stocks: 745
US Stocks: 4968
Average: 4.78% (248:1)
Major FX Pairs: 0.2% (500:1)
Major Indices: 0.2% (500:1)
Commodities: 0.5% (200:1)
Cryptocurrencies: 20% (5:1)
Shares: 3% (33:1)
See Offer67% of retail investor accounts lose money when spread betting and/or trading CFDs with this provider

Pepperstone

CFDs: Yes
Spread Betting: Yes
Direct Market Access: No
Pro Account: Yes
Investments: No
Futures & Options: No
Total Markets: 178
Forex Pairs: 62
Commodities: 32
Indices: 28
Cryptocurrencies: 16
UK Stocks: 192
US Stocks: 880
Average: 3.24% (186:1)
Major FX Pairs: 0.2% (500:1)
Major Indices: 0.5% (200:1)
Commodities: 0.5% (200:1)
Cryptocurrencies: 10% (10:1)
Shares: 5% (20:1)
See Offer
79.3% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider

Markets.com

CFDs: Yes
Spread Betting: Yes
Direct Market Access: No
Pro Account: Yes
Investments: No
Futures & Options: No
Total Markets: 8,000
Forex Pairs: 20+
Commodities: 10+
Indices: 10+
UK Stocks: Yes
US Stocks: Yes
Average: 4.3% (135:1)
Major FX Pairs: 0.33% (300:1)
Major Indices: 0.5% (200:1)
Commodities: 0.66% (150:1)
Cryptocurrencies: 10% (10:1)
Shares: 10% (10:1)
See Offer77% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider

Spreadex FinancialsSpreadex

CFDs: Yes
Spread Betting: Yes
Direct Market Access: Yes
Pro Account: Yes
Investments: No
Futures & Options: No
Total Markets: 10,000
Forex Pairs: 54
Commodities: 20
Indices: 17
Cryptocurrencies: 7
UK Stocks: 1,575
US Stocks: 2,110
Average: 4.80% (128:1)
Major FX Pairs: 0.45% (222:1)
Major Indices: 0.45% (222:1)
Commodities: 0.6% (166:1)
Cryptocurrencies: 18% (5:1)
Shares: 4.5% (22:1)
Visit IG Website
69% of retail investors lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider


Saxo Markets

CFDs: Yes
Spread Betting: No
Direct Market Access: Yes
Pro Account: Yes
Investments: Yes
Futures & Options: Yes
Total Markets: 12,000
Forex Pairs: 84
Commodities: 25
Indices: 21
UK Stocks: 3,500
US Stocks: 1,000
Average: 4.5% (35:1)
Major FX Pairs: 1.5% (66:1)
Major Indices: 2.5% (40:1)
Commodities: 4% (25:1)
Cryptocurrencies: na (na)
Shares: 10% (10:1)
See Offer
70% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider

Compare Professional Trading Account Forex Margin & Markets

Use our sortable tables to compare professional trading platforms for forex trading by a margin (leverage) and forex pairs.

Pro Forex PlatformMin Margin (Max Leverage)Forex Pairs
IG0.45% (222:1)51
CMC Markets0.2% (500:1)338
Pepperstone0.2% (500:1)62
City Index1.5% (66:1)84
Spreadex0.45% (222:1)54
Saxo Markets1.5% (66:1)182

CMC Markets is the best CFD forex broker professional trading account platform for trading forex as they offer the most forex pairs (338) and lowest margin (0.2%) compared to competitors. CMC Markets is also a publically traded company on the LSE and provides clients with significant added value for forex trading such as sentiment indicators and prime brokerage forex trading.

Compare Professional Trading Account Index Margin & Access

Use our sortable tables to compare professional trading platforms for index trading by a margin (leverage) and stock market indices available.

Pro Index PlatformMin Margin (Max Leverage)Indices Available
IG0.45% (222:1)34
CMC Markets0.2% (500:1)82
Pepperstone0.5% (200:1)28
City Index0.25% (250:1)21
Spreadex0.45% (222:1)17
Saxo Markets2.5% (40:1)29

CMC Markets is the best CFD index broker professional trading platform for trading indices as it offers the most leverage of 500:1 and most indices for trading (82). This combined with being publically listed on the London Stock Exchange and being one of the most established trading (est. 1989) make them the winner of the best pro trading platform for index trading.

Compare Professional Trading Account Commodities Leverage Margin & Access

Use our sortable tables to compare professional trading platforms for commodities trading by a margin (leverage) and commodities available.

Pro Commodities PlatformMin Margin (Max Leverage)Commodities Available
IG1.35% (158:1)38
CMC Markets0.5% (200:1)124
Pepperstone0.5% (200:1)32
City Index0.5% (200:1)25
Spreadex0.6% (166:1)20
Saxo Markets0.5% (200:1)19

CMC Markets is the best CFD commodities broker professional trading account as it offers the most leverage (200:1) and the most commodities to trade (124) CMC Markets also offers commodities indices and baskets of individual commodities for sector commodities trading.

Best Professional Trading Account Cryptocurrency Margin, Leverage & Access

Use our sortable tables to compare professional trading platforms for cryptocurrency trading by a margin (leverage) and cryptocurrencies available.

Pro Cryptocurrency PlatformMin Margin (Max Leverage)Cryptocurrency
Available
IG4.5% (22:1)7
CMC Markets20% (5:1)18
Pepperstone10% (10:1)16
City Index5% (20:1)6
Spreadex18% (5:1)7
Saxo Marketsna0

Pepperstone offers the most leverage (10:1) for professional traders trading cryptocurrency as well as having some of the most cryptocurrencies (16) available to trade.

Compare Stocks & Shares Margin, Leverage & Access

Use our sortable tables to compare professional trading platforms for share trading by a margin (leverage) and shares available.

Pro Shares PlatformMin Margin (Max Leverage)Shares Available
IG9% (11:1)12,000
CMC Markets3% (33:1)8,000
Pepperstone5% (20:1)1,200
City Index3% (30:1)4,600
Spreadex4.5% (22:1)3685
Saxo Markets10% (10:1)7,000

IG is the best CFD broker for trading shares as it offers DMA access share trading on 12,000 equities. Despite having not having the best leverage (9%) compared to CMC Market’s 3%, IG’s ability to offer DMA access and physical investing means that we rank IG as the best professional account for share trading.

What is a professional trading account?

A professional trading account is an account that offers a higher leverage or margin on trading products such as CFDs or spread betting. Experienced clients can opt to upgrade from a retail classification to professional by proving they have significant and or professional trading experience.

Because of the new ESMA rules Spread betting and CFD platforms are therefore placing their hopes on professional client accounts, but how can you make sure you choose the best option?

New restrictions from the ESMA threaten to put the party on hold for spread betting firms, but they have responded by opening up a host of professional trading platforms. But how do these work, can you qualify and how do you tell the difference between them?

Besides that professional clients are deemed capable of making their own investment decisions. Criteria may change a little from platform to platform, but generally speaking you will need to have been working in a professional position in financial services for at least a year, have a portfolio of at least €500 and you must have a certain level of professional trading experience.

What to consider when choosing a professional trading account

Should you become a professional trader

First of all, professional CFD and spread betting accounts are not for everyone. I’ve been involved in spread betting and CFDs for about twenty years, but of late there has been a real move to make CFDs and spread betting mass-market products. However, they are not.

There are about 150,000 active traders in the UK, about 340,000 in EMEA and only about 100,000 in the US. Which is not really a lot, when you think about the size of the overall investing markets.

No matter how many brokers sponsor football teams, or how many flash little gits you see on Instagram bragging about their Forex profits, derivatives is not for the masses.

Trading spread betting (compare spread betting brokers here) and CFDs (compare CFD brokers here) is very risky and as per the new ESMA required risk warnings around 75% of traders lose money. But who knows what that is based on, or how accurate the reporting is, or even if it’s even relevant.

But never the less, traders will trade and they will want to make the most efficient use of their risk capital by searching for a broker that offers the best margins, rates and access.

If you qualify for a professional trading account they are a safer option than going offshore with an ASIC-regulated broker.

How to get a professional trading account:

Traders must be able to answer ‘yes’ to two or more of the below criteria to be considered for classification as a professional trader:

  1. Has your trading averaged 10 significantly sized leverage transactions per quarter over the last 4 quarters?
  2. Do you have a financial instrument portfolio, including cash deposits, exceeding €500,000?
  3. Have you worked in the financial sector in a professional position, requiring knowledge of derivatives trading, for at least a year?

What is the difference between professional and retail status?

The key differences between brokers offering professional trading accounts are:

  • Margin rates
  • Commission rates
  • Spread width
  • Additional/restricted market access
  • Voice brokerage/personal account managers

Commission reductions for professional trading accounts

Some professional trading accounts also offer rebates for higher volume trading. Or may even offer a reduction in trading commissions for high volume accounts

They may also differ in the amount of support they offer and the accessibility of their service. Because you’re classified as a professional investor, many firms may assume a certain level of knowledge on your part. This means the language may be more complicated and they may offer little in the way of tuition, or expert support.

Professional trading account margin rates

Retail margin rates are capped by the FCA and one of the major benefits of a professional trading account is that you get increased leverage and reduced margins.

The amount of leverage offered varies considerably from broker to broker so we have put together a comparison table of professional account margin rates.

There are benefits to becoming a professional trader. These benefits can include;

  • a reduction in margin rates
  • using collateral as margin

 You’ll be treated as someone who knows what they are doing and understands the risks they are taking on.

You’ll be given a dedicated client account manager and access to the latest and most sophisticated trading software. Most will also offer reductions on margin rates. Most importantly you’ll get better margin rates when trading CFDs or spread betting in a professional account.

However, there are disadvantages too, such as;

  • no negative protection
  • no leverage or product restrictions
  • assumption of increased experience by the brokers so they won’t explain things in detail

As result a professional client, you’ll waive some of the FCA protections given to retail clients. Negative balance protection does not apply, so if your losses exceed your balance you could be in trouble.

Professional trading accounts FAQ:

How do professional traders trade forex?

Professional forex traders will trade DMA forex, forex CFDs, forex futures and forex options through a futures broker

What software do professional traders use?

Professional traders will either use an inhouse developed trading platform from professional futures brokers like Interactive Brokers or Saxo Markets, or a futures trading platform like TT (Trading Technologies)

How do you trade the markets like a professional?

To trade the markets like a professional, you will need experience, risk capital and treat trading as your primary income source.

How do you become a professional stock trader?

The easiest way to become a professional trader is to get an official trading qualification and trade for an institutional capital markets company.

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