How are Forex orders executed

For most traders, trading is mostly confined to technical/fundamental analysis and well, the obvious result of executing their orders. Understanding what happens when an order is triggered gives far better insights into how your trades are processed. In this article, we’ll learn about how orders are executed, especially in terms of forex brokers. To keep it simple and concise, we’ll only focus on online forex brokers.

In order to understand forex execution process, one must first know the types of orders that can be placed. They are broadly classified into Market Orders, where you buy or sell at the current market price, or pending orders where your order is triggered only when your specified price is reached. However, it doesn’t end quite there as there is a more deeper, complex process that eventually decides on whether your order is filled or killed. Read about the different kind of forex broker here.

How are orders processed with a Forex Broker

Orders are processed differently based on the forex broker that you trade with. As you might know, forex brokers can be classified into those with a Dealing Desk and Non Dealing Desk.

Order Processing – Dealing Desk Broker

When trading with a Dealing desk broker, your orders are filled by the brokerage. In most cases, your BUY or SELL order is filled by the brokerage taking an opposite position to your trade. So if you were to BUY EURUSD at 1.302 with a dealing desk broker, your order would be filled by the brokerage taking a SELL order at 1.302. Obvious from this, one party has to win, while the other loses. In most cases, a dealing desk broker opts for any of these following methods to match your orders. We stick to the most simple ways of matching orders.

  • Match your orders with another client: The most risk free way for a market maker to trade would be to match your order against another of their trading clients, this way the broker makes their spread market from both ends. However, such execution cannot be always filled if the broker has a low volume of clients.
  • Match your orders directly: The most common way is for the broker to match your order, in other words, take an opposite position to your trade. This happens when there are no clients who are willing to BUY or SELL at your price. This is risky because the brokerage can see losses should the market move in your favor
  • Match orders but hedge the risks: In cases where there is a strong move in the markets in one direction and when the broker is forced to take the opposite end of your trade, the brokerage can actually open another position (similar to yours) in the markets to offset their risks

As you can see from the above, there is considerable risk involved when you are trading with a dealing desk broker. There have been many reported incidents when dealing desk brokers have outright cut off their winning clients from trading or put their trading account under supervision so as not to incur further losses. The dealing desk broker’s model is often cited in their ‘Conflict of Interest Policy‘.

Another issue that comes out of order execution is ‘Re-quotes‘ which is common when trading with a dealing desk broker. A re-quote is nothing but an alert telling you a new closer price is available than the one you wanted to place an order on. Re-quotes are common with market orders. While there might be legit reasons for a re-quote (for ex: during high market volatility), dealing desk brokers can use re-quotes to their advantage in order to fill your order at a price ‘they‘ consider better for their counter party trade.

Order Processing – Non Dealing Desk Broker

Non dealing desk brokers make money either by charging commissions or adding a spread mark up to your price. However, they do not trade against their clients but pass on these orders either within their existing client base or onto their liquidity network.

The liquidity network is made up of large institutions as well as a couple of other NDD brokers. The Straight Through Processing  model automatically matches your orders against other clients within the same network.

The picture below illustrates the order execution for NDD and Dealing Desk Brokers.

Forex Order Execution - NDD & DD Brokers

Forex Order Execution – NDD & DD Brokers

Given that the order execution is quite complex, this has given some rogue forex brokers to take advantage of the general public at large. By advertising themselves as a STP/NDD broker, brokerages continue to fill the client orders internally. At the same time, there are some legitimate NDD brokers who charge a spread mark up instead of commissions. This is because the fees involved in connecting to a liquidity network is quite high is purely based on trading volumes. A forex broker will smaller volumes, would opt for a spread mark up. On the other hand, a brokerage such as LMAX exchange, which operates an MTF charges commissions only due to their already high volumes.

So the question of whether you should pay attention to how your orders are executed, comes down to that of personal choice. For experience trades, order execution plays an important role, and it is obvious that such traders prefer a non-dealing desk broker. For the most part, where the retail trading group is made up of novice traders with low volumes, you could be excused for not wanting to know about the order execution.

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