Compare live Forex trading accounts from STP brokers - including DMA and ECN STP brokers.
Straight Through Processing (STP) means full integration between all market participants, from liquidity providers to investors and the trading platform. In its purest form, an STP broker aggregate prices in real time from liquidity providers and passes client orders onto them. In practice, this also means there is No Dealing Desk (NDD).
However, Forex brokers tend to apply the term loosely and ‘STP’ can mean different things to different brokers. This article describes common traits and differences between STP brokers and suggests ways to check how your own broker operates.
STP brokers aggregate prices from banks, financial institutions and other liquidity providers (LPs) in the Forex interbank bank market. The price you see on your end is the best-bid and the best-offer (BBBO) across all quotes. This means the bid could come from Bank A and the ask from Bank B.
STP brokers typically work with more than one liquidity provider. However, circumstances can arise when they only have one. For example, this can happen if you trade with an Introducing Broker.
The spread is the difference between the buying and selling price of a currency pair. If you’re quoted EUR/USD at 1.2502/05, the spread is 0.0003 or just 3 pips.
STP brokers usually quote variable spreads because the prices they receive from liquidity providers change dynamically over time. The price you’re quoted adjusts automatically to reflect the BBBO available from your broker’s liquidity providers. Your broker adds his own mark-up to the spread to cover his costs and earn a profit.
However, some brokers can quote fixed spreads instead. This can happen when they have just one liquidity provider. And when they have more, they can achieve this by adjusting the mark-up they apply to the BBBO to ensure that the spreads you see on your end remain the same.
A regular STP broker fills client orders through instant execution. This means your broker acts as the counterparty to your trades and will hedge these positions with his liquidity providers. This can give rise to re-quotes if your broker has difficulties filling orders at the price you requested. However, instant execution does allow you to enter Stop and Limit Orders at the very same time you open a position, which can help manage your risks.
Other STP brokers offer market execution. When this happens, your broker passes your order directly onto his own liquidity providers. This gives you what is known as Direct Market Access and is one of the purest forms of trading. Liquidity providers will act as the counterparty to your trade and fill your order at the prevailing market price. The downside is that you cannot enter Stop or Limit orders at the time you place an order because the execution price is not known when you click the 'Trade' button.
First, check your broker's website and Order Execution Policy for comments about spreads and execution types. If in doubt, ask your account manager directly.
If your broker offers fixed spreads and instant execution, it's unlikely but not impossible that he delivers Straight Through Processing.
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