IG Review (2024) – The Original, But Still The Best Spread Betting Broker?

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IG, founded in 1974 as Investors Gold Index, then IG Index, now just “IG,” is one of the world’s largest margin trading brokers. IG offers CFDs, FX, and Spread Betting (in the UK) alongside share trading and prime brokerage to over 313,000 active clients and offers 17,000 tradable markets. IG also recently introduced physical share dealing and smart portfolios for longer-term investors.

IG Customer Reviews

3.9
3.9 out of 5 stars (based on 523 reviews)
Excellent34%
Very good35%
Average21%
Poor7%
Terrible3%

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We say

IG is an excellent all round trading platform, I would say it is the default broker for active trades to which we measure other platforms against.
Richard Berry
Richard Berry
Good Money Guide Founder

What's in this review?

IG Awards

IG won best spread betting broker in our most recent 2023 awards and has won in the past:

  • 2023: Best Spread Betting Broker
  • 2022: Best Spread Betting Broker
  • 2021: Best Trading Platform
  • 2020: Best Spread Betting Broker & Best Professional Trading Account, Best All-Round Trading Platform
  • 2019: Best Forex Broker & Best Overall Broker
  • 2018: Best Spread Betting Broker & Best Overall Broker
@good_money_guide Looking for the top spread betting broker? Check out the winners of the 2023 Good Money Guide Award for Best Spread Betting Broker IG. #IG #goodmoneyguide #goodmoneyguideawards #trading #betting #spreadbetting #stocks ♬ original sound – Good Money Guide

IG Video Review

In this video, we test the IG trading platform and highlight some of the key added-value trading tools.

YouTube video

IG Facts & Figures

IG Total Markets
17,000
➡️Forex Pairs51
➡️Commodities38
➡️Indices34
➡️UK Stocks3925
➡️US Stocks6352
➡️ETFsOver 2000
IG Key Info
👉Number Active ClientsOver 313,000
💰Minimum Deposit250
❔Inactivity FeeYes – £12 per month
📅 Founded1974
ℹ️ Public Company✔️
🏢 Head OfficeLondon, UK
IG Account Types
➡️CFD Trading✔️
➡️Forex Trading✔️
➡️Spread Betting✔️
➡️DMA (Direct Market Access)✔️
➡️Futures Trading
➡️Options Trading
➡️Investing Account✔️
IG Average Fees
➡️FTSE 1001
➡️DAX 301.2
➡️DJIA2.4
➡️NASDAQ1
➡️S&P 5000.4
➡️EURUSD0.6
➡️GBPUSD0.9
➡️USDJPY0.7
➡️Gold0.3
➡️Crude Oil0.28
➡️UK Stocks0.1%
➡️US Stocks0.1%

Expert Review

Before we kick off this review I must disclose a bit of an interest. I’m a big fan of IG, in my mind, they are the default broker. When we review brokers, we tend to ask the question “why would you trade here rather than at IG?” So, in my updated 2024 IG review, I compare IG Index to other brokers, tell you what I like about them, who they are best for and show you their trading platform with some live trades in a video demo. 

IG Review
IG

Name: IG

Description: Founded in 1974 as Investors Gold Index, then IG Index, now just “IG” is one of the world’s largest margin trading brokers. IG offer CFDs, FX and Spread Betting (in the UK) alongside share trading and prime brokerage to over 313,000 active clients and offers 17,000 tradable markets. IG also recently introduced physical share dealing and smart portfolios for longer-term investors.
71% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs and spread bets with this provider.

Is IG a good trading platform?

Yes, IG provides an excellent all-round trading and investing brokerage service. IG pioneered online trading and financial spread betting for private clients and remains not only one of the largest online trading platforms, but also one of the best. IG stands out through deep liquidity, high market range and excellent added value such as trading tools and analysis.

Pros

  • Vast range of markets
  • Excellent liquidity & DMA equities
  • Listed on the London Stock Exchange

Cons

  • Customer service can be slow
  • No DMA futures trading
  • Still charges inactivity fee
  • Pricing
    (4.5)
  • Market Access
    (5)
  • Online Platform
    (5)
  • Customer Service
    (4)
  • Research & Analysis
    (5)
Overall
4.7

Ratings Explained

  • Pricing: Industry leading spreads and with DMA you can get inside the bid/offer.
  • Market Access: Best around for spread betting and CFD trading.
  • Platform & Apps: Loads of added value, signals and execution features.
  • Customer Service: IG is very big, but still managed to score well here.
  • Research & Analysis: Superb, news, analysis, social feeds, plus free premium subscriptions for active clients.

I’ve had an account with IG for about 20 years and I remember their first online trading platform when it was just basically a messaging system through to the dealing desk. Amazingly enough, it turns out that I was also in the same class (at two different schools over about five years) as the founder’s daughter, but of course, didn’t know that back then.

When I was interning on the NYMEX and IPE trading floors in London and New York as a ticket checking clerk, I’d tap away on IG on my Ericsson R380 trying to emulate the bigger boys in the pit.
IG were my first trading account and along with Trading Places (my dog is even called Winthorpe #notobsessed) I hold them fully accountable for the path my so-called career has taken.

The beginnings & Ethos

Stuart Wheeler, the founder, basically invented financial spread betting in the attic of a Chelsea townhouse in 1974. It was first called Investors Gold Index, then IG Index and then just IG. As the product range grows, the name shortens. As is the fashion these days with II, HL & IBKR.

If you read his biography (Winning Against the Odds, My Life in Gambling and Politics), you can tell that IG was founded for the love of the business. That business being gambling and investing. It’s a great read, very witty, lots of indescrete gossip, some “slightly dated” views, but overall a great insight into how and why the business started.

This brings me to my first point. One of the things that makes IG stand out, is really the fact that it is IG.  I’m a big believer that there are two types of financial business. One that is set up to extract money from customers because they spot a gap in the market. And the second, that does it because they are good at it and want to be the best.

I hope that’s what we at the Good Money Guide do and I hope that that’s what IG still do. I certainly gathered from my interview with the now IG CEO, June Felix, that their position is still to very much be on the clients side. In that, they believe it’s better to try and help a client win and give them a good service, so they are still doing business with you in twenty years, rather than the churn and burn quick-fire approach.

Index & Forex Trading

IG was originally called IG Index (Investors Gold Index) and was one of the first brokers to let private individuals trade the financial markets. When they started off customers mainly traded the London stock market index (FTSE 100), but now IG clients can trade a market-leading 80+ indices.

You can also trade forex on their platform. But remarkably, unlike most other forex brokers, which see the largest percentage of their volumes in the forex markets, IG’s most popular asset class is indices, followed closely in second by currency trading.

Quality Service

This was most evident I think during the big bonus push of around seven years ago. This was basically a time when the trading industry became uber-competitive and brokers were offering big bonuses, sometimes up to £5,000 to new clients to sign up.

The catch of course was that you had to generate more than that in trading commission before you could withdraw it or use it. IG’s stance on that was, “No, that’s not for us” clients trade with us because of what our service offers” and didn’t get into the murky business of incentives.

Interestingly enough, the FCA banned new account bonuses because it all got a bit out of hand as the more unscrupulous platforms were running too heavy B-books.

No B-Book

One draw for big clients is that whilst IG does internalise orders, they have Symmetrical exposure limits.

So they don’t take a view on the markets. This means two things, first, IG are not betting against you with a B-Book.

And second if you are a big trader, because of their liquidity there may actually be bigger volume on IG’s bid and offer than there is in the underlying market. You get positive slippage, so if you place a limit order and the market suddenly moves in your favour you get filled at a better price than your limit.

Spread Betting & CFD Trading

With IG you can trade CFDs or spread bet 24 hours on major indices, forex and commodities markets, there are extended hours on global equities, where some fairly significant volume goes through, particularly on US equities when company announcements are made after the main market shuts. IG is one of the few brokers to allow trading during the weekend, so you can still take a view or limit your exposure if something big comes out politically.

IG is one of the best CFD trading platforms as they offer a huge range of markets to trade and DMA access for more sophisticated traders. Also, because IG offers CFDs globally (with the exception of the US) they have a huge amount of volume and liquidity meaning that sometimes you can place bigger orders via IG’s order book than you could do on the underlying exchanges like the LSE or NYSE. Because of the sheer volume of CFD trades, IG is able to internally match up orders for quicker and larger fills.

One key disadvantage of trading CFDs through IG is that you have to pay tax on profits. However, CFDs are not the only product that IG offer. You can also trade financial spread bets, where you do not have to pay capital gains tax on profits.

IPO Grey Market

One feature that is now unique to IG (lots of other brokers used to do it) is the “grey market”, where they will make you a price in unquoted stocks that are due to come to market. You essentially take a bet on what the market cap will be of a company when it lists. Or, you can just apply for shares in the IPO through PrimaryBid, who will deliver them to your IG account.

International Presence

IG also have this nice nack of looking at a region and finding specific products for them. It’s actually quite interesting how each country has a specific way it likes to trade the markets. The UK for example, is the only country that benefits from financial spread betting, the rest of the world trades on margin with CFDs. Of course, with the exception of the Americans, who trade on margin by taking out a loan to buy stock (from their broker) or trade options, which are much more popular on equities. Japan has knockouts and Europe has barrier options and Turbos Warrants.

Options Trading

Talking of options, IG has one of the widest ranges of index, forex, and commodities options and if you want to trade options on stocks, you can, although you have to do it over the phone in the UK, you’ll be able to do it online soon they say.

If you have a professional account you can still trade binary options with IG, which are now called Digital 100s.

IG Daily Options

I’m actually a big fan of binary options as they give you the ability to take a short-term limited risk bet on how the market is going to move. Unfortunately, as with bonuses they were abused by off-shore hoodlums and banned for retail traders.

you can trade options online on IG, but you are limited to the most popular forex pairs indices, commodities and shares. If you want a wider range of options, particularly on shares, a full-service futures and options broker like Saxo Markets or Interactive Brokers will give you better access.

But, one of the key advantages of IG, is that you can trade options as a spread bet and not pay capital gains tax on your profits. IG are one of the best brokers to offer this exclusively to UK customers.

Trading Platforms & Apps

IG’s trading platform has gone through many iterations in the 20 years or so I’ve used them. Their first online platform was just really a live price feed with a messenger box, that put you through to the dealers, who would manually execute trades for you. Now, of course, it’s all DIY online, but still with phone support if you need it.

IG Trading Platform

Something IG is very keen to push, is their added value. The platform tries to integrate as much as possible. IGTV, is based on the platform analytics of what people are trading and they create programs around what markets and assets traders are looking for information on. The news and analysis comes from Thomas Reuters, with snapshot videos and a series of IG market commentary videos.

We rate IG’s trading app as extremely safe because of IG’s regulation and reputation. However, it’s important to note that while trading on the app itself is financially secure, the products on offer are high risk and IG does offer investments that are not safe for capital preservation. IG offers financial spread betting and CFDs which are high-risk, high reward products.

Does IG have MT4?

Yes, you can use MT4 with IG, but you are limited to only a few markets. If you are going to use MT4 as your main trading platform specialist MT4 brokers like Pepperstone give you access to more markets. However, one of the key advantages to trading on MT4 with IG is their experienced development team for helping implement strategies and how well-capitalised IG are as a business.

IG Trading App

IG is one of the best trading app for market range and DMA trading.

It was nice to see that when I used the IG trading app I could also get access to trading signals from Autochartist with entry, exit and stop levels that can be executed on mobile with the signal data on the same screen as the order ticket. IG’s trade analytics package is also available so you can review your trading win rate, return, and profit and loss ratio as well as see whether you are a better short or long-term trade, the app will also highlight your best and worst markets. The app trade analytics will also show your total financial exposure and your most recent trades.

The app’s news, section, whilst not as comprehensive as the web version can be filtered down by asset class, you can see what is most relevant to you. There is also a macroeconomic event calendar and a diary of company announcements so you don’t get caught off guard with unexpected figures or can take advantage of upcoming market volatility.

One key advantage of the IG app is that IG provides markets over the weekend so you can trade to reduce or increase your exposure on the move and out of normal market hours. You can also see level-2 data and trade DMA on shares. The app syncs with your accounts so watchlists and recently traded and viewed markets will be easy to see. Charting, is good, landscape and portrait, plus you can trade directly from the charts, as well as drag and drop, stop and limit levels.

Overall, IG’s trading app is one of the best out there, with more features and markets than most of the competition.

IG trading app

High Net Worth Accounts

If you are a high-volume trader, you can also trade DMA with ProRealTime, and you can get level 2 pricing and trade directly on the exchange order book. This can be done on the IG trading app or by downloading the L2 dealer software. There is a cost of course, but if you do a few trades that is rebated back. Brokers have to pay the exchanges for providing level 2 data to their clients, so the charge is there to dissuade everyone signing up without trading. If you are really clever and have developed your own trading algorithm, you can plug that into IG’s platform too. Or MT4/MT5 which they also offer, if you’re into that sort of thing.

IG Community

There is a fairly active forum in the IG community, it’s not as quite as “social media feed” as some copy trading platforms, but there are a few thousand users chatting away and the IG staff get involved. As with other brokers, there is Autochartist, but they add value there, by having a “copy to order” function where you can execute the signal, but also add the stop and limit. You can then tinker with the pricing by moving the lines on the chart. On charting, IG are implementing logarithmic charting, one of their most requested features from traders.

Sticky Clients

A problem all brokers are desperate to address though is people losing money. It’s always been the case and previously was always anecdotally noted that only around 20% of people made money. The IG founder, even mentions this in his book, prior to it being a regulatory requirement to display in all marketing and on websites what percentage of clients lose money when trading spread betting and CFDs. A few brokers have implemented post-trade analytics, to help their clients try and win more. IG’s Trade Analytics tool does just that. It’s sole purpose is to try and help traders win more by getting a better understanding of where they profit and lose in the markets. It’s been developed in-house by IG, based on their analytics and to provide clarity.

James Perry IG’s Client Experience Manager told me “We desperately want our clients to win as the more they win, the longer they are going to be a client, and the more they are going to trade” as they make their money from commissions, financing and spreads, “as soon as they lose, they feel disenfranchise, sad and reduce trading volumes”.

I know this to be true from my own trading, when you’re on a winning run you trade more, when you can’t call the market right so step away until another day.

Investing, ETFs & Share Dealing

IG also, offer longer-term investing products, where you can buy and hold stocks, ETFs and funds in a stocks and shares ISA, or IG Smart Portfolio. They have a trading academy so they can learn through video and interactive courses. IG can see from their analytics that clients that use these, do become better traders. Along with their recent acquisition of DAILY FX (for $40m) they also offer live webinars to provide analysis and trading strategy.

you can invest and trade ETFs with IG. You have the option of either investing in the long term by buying ETFs in their general investment account, SIPP or ISA. Or you can speculate on them going up or down by going long or short via CFDs or financial spread bets. IG is not the cheapest place for investing in ETFs, (that is probably Interactive Brokers) but they do have very good customer service and a really easy to use ETF platform.

Overall, if you are going to trade, I would be surprised if you didn’t have an account with IG.

DMA Trading & Professional Account

You can trade DMA with IG, but they only offer direct market access to equities. You can trade DMA shares with IG via IG markets as a CFD, but you cannot trade on exchange futures and options. If you want DMA access to futures exchanges, you will need a futures broker like Saxo or Interactive Brokers.

When the new ESMA rules came into place, IG Pro was introduced as one of a number of accounts which help investors get around new European restrictions on trading, but is it worth the risk?

In 2020 European restrictions had financial spread betting companies finding new ways to keep the revenue coming in. IG Group’s approach was to introduce its IG Pro account which allows experienced and professional investors to continue trading financial spreads.

It is a way to get around the rules, but it does not come without risk. So, before choosing an IG Pro Account, you need to be clear about what you’re letting yourself in for. 

Going Pro

By opening an IG Pro account, you will not be subject to the ESMA’s restrictions and can continue trading these products as before. In order to do so, you’ll have to be able to answer ‘yes’ to these questions:

  1. Have you traded leveraged derivatives in significant quantities over the past four quarters?
  2. Do you have a portfolio size of more than €500 Euros?
  3. Have you worked in the financial sector, in a professional position requiring a knowledge of the derivatives trading for at least a year?

The rules are there to try and ensure the only people trading in these high-risk instruments are those who understand the risks they are taking. If you do qualify, you will continue trading many of these restricted products such as the Digital 100s, use up to 95% of your share collateral as margin and secure a higher margin on your trades thanks to the greater flexibility this offers. In addition, the account means you will be eligible for a range of additional features open only to professional investors.

Now come the downsides. When you use the professional platform, you forego some of the protections which are normally open to professional clients. There will be no negative balance protection – losses can exceed the balance in your account, and the platform may not go out of its way to use clear and easy to understand language. It will assume a certain level of professionalism on your part and expect you to understand sophisticated terminology. They may also prioritise factors such as speed and likelihood of execution over the best price.

This is something to come into with your eyes open. It allows you continue trading restricted products and to get around new regulations. At the same time, though, this is only a platform for someone who really knows what they are doing and is prepared to accept the risk.

IG Smart Portfolios

IG Group is probably best known as a provider of margin trading services be that FX, CFDs or Spread Betting, but they also acts as a stockbroker and fund manager and provide Smart Portfolios in conjunction with one of the world’s largest asset managers, Blackrock.

What is an IG Smart Portfolio?

The five IG smart portfolios which were launched a little under three years ago at the end of February 2017. Four of the five funds replicated existing BlackRock products but the fifth, the aggressive portfolio, was created specifically for IG, by BlackRock.

BlackRock is best known as an originator of ETFs and other passive investments however the products it produced for IG are not index trackers.

The minimum investment for IG Smart Portfolios is £500 and you can request a withdrawal from your account at anytime and your portfolio will be reduced to cover the withdrawal amount.

Fee reductions

Back in 2020, IG announced that it was reducing the management fees it charges on the smart portfolios to just 0.50% per annum, and it also capped those fees at £250 a year.

According to IG’s Smart portfolio price comparison, their portfolios work out significantly cheaper than robo-advisor competitors, Wealthify, Moneyfarm and Nutmeg.

IG Smart Portfolio Pricing Comparison

As IG Smart Portfolio fees are capped at £250 a year, it means that anything you invest above £50k is effectively fee-free.

Investment Strategy

IG Smart Portfolios are smart beta funds, rather than index trackers. Smart beta is an investment style that tries to benefit from idiosyncratic features associated with particular groups of stocks this is also known as factor investing. These factors or characteristics include traits and identifiers such as value, growth, momentum, size, low volatility and others.

The thinking behind this approach is that by identifying and isolating these factors we can create portfolios which could outperform or are uncorrelated to a broad market basket.

This is the type of strategy that Hedge Funds might employ.

Smart beta portfolios such as those offered by IG stockbrokers aim to bring these quantitative and qualitative investment approaches to their clients, via low-cost vehicles

Performance

IG Smart portfolios have a six-year track record and generally perform well. Overall the growth portfolio generated the best returns for investors, with the Aggressive fund lagging due to it’s shorter run time and early losses in 2018 doubtless caused by the sharp selloff in the markets at the end of that year.

Smart Portfolio All time returns from 2014 to Sept 2023

  • Conservative +10.20%
  • Moderate +32.70%
  • Balanced +55.70%
  • Growth +79.30%
  • Aggressive +47.60%

However, it’s been a bit of a rocky ride with some portfolios having losing years, especially 2022 when they all took a battering. The chart below shows each portfolio’s yearly performance but does not include 2023, which you would expect to be good seeing as the overall markets are up around 20%.

IG Smart Portfolio Annual Performance

Smart PortfolioAll time202220212020201920182017201620152014
Conservative10.20%-5.60%-0.40%2.00%3.60%-0.90%0.30%6.80%-0.20%2.90%
Moderate32.70%-9.40%3.40%7.40%10.00%-3.60%4.50%12.40%0.20%4.90%
Balanced55.70%-11.40%8.80%9.20%14.10%-4.60%8.10%15.60%0.90%4.90%
Growth79.30%-11.90%13.50%11.40%17.00%-5.60%10.70%18.20%1.60%5.00%
Aggressive47.60%-12.20%18.20%10.90%19.40%-6.50%    

Investing versus trading at IG

Despite this positive performance the fund management business has not caught the imagination of the IG client base in the same way that say trading CFDs or Spread bets on equity indices have.

For example, in the FY 2019 margin trading clients generated revenues of £454 million pounds for IG, whilst the investments and stockbroking division returned revenues of just £5.9 million. A positive result but a drop in the ocean when compared to the margin trading business.

Since the departure of former CEO Peter Hetherington IG has made no secret of its desire to broaden both its product range and customer base. It has recently recruited both a new chairman and a head of institutional business, with that in mind.

The reduction in fees, and in some cases the removal of them altogether, in the Smart portfolio’s business is doubtless aimed at growing both funds under management and annual revenues.

Welcome though this cost reduction is, we can’t help but feel that the existing funds IG offers are somewhat staid when compared to what’s available elsewhere and the type of products and trading the wider group is involved in

IG would surely be able to attract money to funds that replicated or in some way participated in the firm’s own trading book

After all the business takes no directional view on the market but rather hedges customer flows, once the firm’s risk reaches certain predetermined levels.

You can count the number of losing days that IG experiences in a year, on the fingers of one hand and surely that’s the kind return that people would be prepared to pay up for.

71% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs and spread bets with this provider.

IG FAQs:

IG has over 313,000 clients worldwide and is one of the latest online trading platforms globally

IG’s share dealing account is one of the cheapest of all the major stock brokers in the UK. You can buy UK shares from £3 per trade and there is no commission for buying US stocks.

Yes, you can trade gold on IG, through ETFs, CFD or spread bets. In fact, IG started off being called Investors Gold Index with a focus on making gold markets.

Yes, IG’s trading platform is ranked by us as one of the best in the UK. IG’s trading platform is specifically good for high volume traders that require deep liquidity.

Yes, IG offers around 51 forex pairs to trade and you can also invest in currencies by buying FX rate tracking ETFs.

IG Index was the previous full name of Investors Gold Index before they shortened it to IG. IG Index, was the pioneer of the spread betting industry.

IG Markets has the same spreads as IG Index. The difference is that IG Index offers spread betting to UK customers where as IG Markets offers CFD trading globally (except in America) to retail and professional traders.

IG offers spread betting, CFDs, forex and investing accounts through IG Markets.

IG was founded and is still based in London. Their current offices are in the heart of the City of London. IG’s London address is: Cannon Bridge House, 25 Dowgate Hill, London EC4R 2YA

Yes, IG offers a share dealing ISA where you can pick your own shares and also a Smart Portfolio ISA where you buy into a pre-made portfolio that contains a diverse range of investments and is ranked by risk.

IG’s client sentiment shows how many traders are long or short in a market. It can be used as either a leading or contrarian indicator depending on whether or not you agree with crowd investing mentality.

IG is one of the most competitively priced trading platforms. IG spread sin major markets are often marketing leading. For example, they offer some of the tightest spreads for GBPUSD trading. They are also one of the cheapest brokers for holding positions overnight.

Further reading: Overnight Financing Explained: What is it and is it important?

Yes, In the UK IG Group and IG Markets is regulated by the FCA so if they go bust your money (up to £85k) is protected by the FSCS. However, your money is not safe from you making bad investment decisions or picking a bad trader to copy trade.

No. There are no withdrawal fees for taking money out of your IG account.

No, you do not have to pay tax on profits if you are spread betting or have a stocks and shares ISA account with IG. However, if you have a CFD or share dealing account, you will have to pay tax.

Yes. IG will charge you a monthly inactive fee of £12 if you do not use your account for two years. Once your account balance reaches zero you will no longer have to pay this fee.

Yes IG does have a SIPP account where you can invest in individual shares or their Smart Portfolios. IG partner with Options UK Personal Pensions LLP who are an independent pension administration company providing specialist pension services and products to the UK market. The trustee of the IG SIPP is MK SIPP Trustees UK Ltd.

IG’s level-2 dealer is a trading platform that lets you trade with direct market access. Unlike normal IG spread betting and CFD accounts you are charged commission post-trade as you can work orders inside the market bid/offer spread.

71% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs and spread bets with this provider.

69% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs and spread bets with this provider.
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