City Index Ratings
- Market Access
- Online Platform
- Customer Service
- Research & Analysis
Why we like it
City Index offers some of the best trading tool and analysis to help traders perform better. Their unique post-trade analytics and voice brokerage service make it an excellent choice for large and frequent traders.
- Excellent trading tools
- Voice brokerage
- Publically listed
- Trading only, no investment account
74% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider.
City Index Review
I’ve always liked City Index, it’s been a stalwart of the London CFD broker scene since it was founded by Chris Hales and Jonathan Sparke in 1983 as a way for institutions to hedge their exposure through spread betting and CFDs. But soon became popular with more retail traders. Always advertising on billboards in the City, always having a colourful client base, always being bought and sold at the whim of billionaires and bigger boys. But in recent years, it had gone off a bit from its glory days. Back in the good ol’ days, you could open an account and put on a million-dollar trade over the phone with no ID, no deposit, and no idea. Well, you could if you happened to be on a yacht with Michael Spencer (the then City Index owner and City grandee), who was convinced he knew which way the Euro was headed and goaded one of his guests into putting the trade on, as the story goes away.
But those days are long gone and incumbent brokers have to fight hard to differentiate themselves against the fintechs nipping at their heels, as well as provide more trader tools to lure new customers back to traditional markets away from the wild west of Crypto.
City Index seems to have matured nicely though, it’s grown out of its lumbering adolescence under the ownership of Gain Capital and is now owned by US Behemoth StoneX (previously INTL FCStone). Since then, the platform has had a few upgrades and long-term investment products will hopefully be added shortly.
The City Index platform used to have a slightly off-the-rack feel about it, instead, the business relied on word of mouth and friendly referrals from HNW clients who would use experienced dealers to work large orders over the phone. Whilst voice brokerage still forms part of City Index’s offering, they are, as with everyone else, doing the majority of their business online and working hard to make their platform stand out.
Obviously, they have access to more than the usual markets plus some nice thematic-themed indices (like ESG), and a good pool of sectors to speculate on. You can also trade options (CFD or spread bets thereof) on a good range of indices and commodities. Plus, bet on Volatility, everyone loves a bit of vol chasing in choppy markets.
One example of how they are populating their platform with new trader tools is SMART Signals. Of course, all, or at least most brokers have Trading Central or AutoChartists, (City has Trading Central) whose signals are used by so many platforms that they almost become self-fulfilling, or a barrel for larger traders to shoot down small fry, depending on which way you look at it.
SMART Signals is a new iteration of GetGo, which I tested and reviewed a few years ago. At the time, it was a stand-alone app, and actually quite fun, and did well highlighting some trading opportunities (full GetGo review here). Now, it’s fully integrated into the City Index platform, so you can look at what trading signals are being spat out by the algorithm and either dive in manually, or opt to trade when the signal is triggered, with corresponding stops and limits in place. It’s a great feature for stimulus and saves you a bit of time if you’re on the hunt for trades.
Whether it can make you money is another thing, but SMART gives a full breakdown of its P&L from previous trading signals, so whether or not you make money will largely depend on what signals you decide to follow and also (as you will know from reading “The Art of Execution”) how you manage the positions once open.
Another acquisition from parent StoneX is Chasing Returns, now integrated into the platform as Performance Analytics. Which really drills down into where you are trading well and where you are losing money. Performance Analytics can break down your wins and losses and tell you what markets you trade best, what time of day you are most profitable, if you make money trading in quick succession or, if you do better if you take a break between trades. It’ll even tell you if your first trade of the day is often a winner or loser, or if you are a better bull or bear and also if you are as good at trading volatility as you pretend to enjoy doing, but letting you know if you trade better in calm or erratic markets.