Recommended for traders and investors who want to use leverage via CFDs. Also recommended for British and Irish customers who want trade equities and have access to robo-advisory type services.
IG was established in 1974 and is one of the biggest CFD providers in the world. The company is listed on the UK stock exchange. IG is not a classical brokerage company since it provides mostly derivative and leveraged products.
IG's product portfolio is limited and in most of the countries it offers only CFD trading. It has started to expand its product portfolio towards traditional products by providing real equity (not CFD) trading and robo-advisory type services for specific British and Irish citizens.
The IG trading platform on the web is simple and user-friendly if you already understand CFD trading. Its mobile app is well designed and easy to use. IG has three desktop trading platforms, which can be confusing and it will take serious time to explore which one is the best for your needs.
IG customer service is helpful and gives relevant answers. The research serves the needs of both technical and fundamental analysis lovers, although a dedicated research team is missing.
Spreads are competitive, but trading commissions are in the middle of the pricing spectrum.
Please scroll down for the complete IG review.
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Gergely Korpos, 5 May 2017
IG is one of the biggest CFD providers in the world. The company was established in 1974 and is listed on the London Stock Exchange. Apart from CFDs, IG is constantly developing its product portfolio. Stock trading, robo-advisory type services, spread betting and binary option services are also available in some of the countries in which it operates. NADEX (North American Derivative Exchange) is the US subsidiary of IG, which specializes in binary options and spreads.
In our review of IG we tested the services that it provides to European customers. The review does not cover the binary option function since this is more of a gambling product.
Our review covers the following:
|IG Review Scores|
|Account protection you get||★★★★★|
|Account opening process||★★★★★|
|Money transfer and withdrawal||★★★☆☆|
|IG's product portfolio||★★☆☆☆|
|Trading platforms offered|
We are pretty sure nobody wants an investment account with an insecure broker, so let’s talk security first.
IG is regulated by the FCA, the UK’s financial authority body. So, if you open an account with IG you will be covered by the UK protection scheme up to GBP 50,000. This is significantly higher than the usual EUR 20,000 protection applied elsewhere in Europe.
It is important to know that binary bets are regulated by the Gambling Commission, rather than by the FCA. So if you use this product you won’t be protected by the financial protection scheme.
IG serves clients across five continents and you can open an account from almost anywhere. Do you live in Antarctica, Norfolk Island or Vanuatu? No problem, you can open an IG account.
We've listed the larger eligible countries below.
IG provides different product portfolios for different countries, so it's worth checking the available products before opening an account.
Tax-efficient accounts are provided in some countries, like ISA or SIPP in the UK, but you'll have to check if this account type is available in your country or not.
The base currency of your account can be a major currency or your home country currency. IG does not provide official information about available account currencies, so you should contact their customer service if you plan to open an account with an exotic base currency. We managed to open an account in Hungarian Forint (HUF).
The account opening process is straightforward and the initial registration only takes five minutes. Registration is followed by identification, which is fully digital. You have to email your personal documents to IG, choosing from the following three options:
The required identification documents can differ from country to country but this is the standard requirement.
It is a nice touch that you can start exploring the trading platform straight after registering and you don’t have to wait for identification to be completed.
At IG you can choose from three options for funding your account. Manual transfers and European debit card transfers are free of charge, while credit card, PayPal and non-European debit card transfers will set you back a 1.5% transfer fee. This is not the norm and we think it is very high.
Manual bank transfer – the transfer has to come from your own bank account, practically from a bank account with the same name as your IG investment account. IG has UK bank accounts, so if you are not a UK resident you'll have to make an international transfer. The transfer can take up to three business days and is free of charge.
You can start withdrawing money using the web trader platform.
You can withdraw funds to your debit or credit card or to your bank account.
When using card withdrawal, there are some exceptions that will be visible on your trading platform. For example, you cannot transfer money to a Mastercard that was issued outside the UK. Card withdrawal usually takes three business days. A GBP 100 minimum transfer applies to withdrawals as well.
Bank transfers can take a few business days as well, but in the UK you can have a same-day sterling payment (CHAPS). Normal bank transfers are free of charge, but same-day withdrawal (available only in the UK) will cost you GBP 15.
It's worth noting that you can only transfer money to your nominated bank account.
IG has a limited product portfolio. CFDs are available to all customers, while share dealing and smart portfolios are only available to UK and Irish clients.
Available asset classes:
IG's CFD product range is quite large and includes:
The tables below show the variety of products available to UK customers.
|Europe||Americas||Asia / Pacific / S Africa|
|UK (FTSE 100, FTSE 350 and all £10m+ market cap UK companies)||US (S&P 500, NASDAQ 100 and other liquid $500m+ market cap US companies)||Australian stocks (ASX/S&P 300, and further 700 stocks)|
|Austria (ATX)||South Africa (JSE Top 40)|
|Belgium (BEL 20)||Leading Hong Kong shares|
|Denmark (KFX)||Leading Japanese shares|
|Finland (HEX)||Straits Times Singapore constituents|
|Germany (DAX, HDAX, MDAX)|
|Greece (ASE 60)|
|Italy (MIB30, MIBTEL)|
|Portugal (PSI 20)|
|Spain (IBEX 35)|
|Sweden (OMX Stockholm Benchmark)|
|INDEX CFDs (Cash or futures)|
|Europe||Americas||Asia / Pacific / S Africa||Other|
|UK Large-cap (FTSE 100)||S&P 500||Hong Kong (Hang Seng Index)||US Dollar Basket (ICE NYBOT Dollar Index)|
|UK Mid-cap (FTSE 250)||Wall Street (DJIA 30)||Japan (Nikkei 225)||Volatility Index (VIX)|
|Germany (DAX)||US Tech 100 (NASDAQ 100)||Australia (S&P/ASX 200)||EU Volatility Index (VSTOXX)|
|Belgium (BEL 20)||Russel 2000||China 300 (Shanghai Shenzen CSI 300 index future plus fair value)|
|Euro 50 (Dow Jones Euro STOXX 50)||Mexico 35 (MEX BOLSA IPC)||China H-Shares (Hang Seng China Enterprises Index)|
|Germany Mid-cap (MDAX)||Brazil 60 (BMF IBOVESPA)||China A-50 (FTSE/Xinhua A50 Index future plus fair value)|
|Germany Tech (TecDAX)||India 50 (CNX Nifty Fifty)|
|Greece (FTSE/ATHEX Large Cap)||Singapore Blue Chip (MSCI Singapore Free Index)|
|Hungary||South Africa 40 (FTSE/JSE Top 40)|
|Italy (FTSE MIB)||Taiwan Index (MSCI Taiwan)|
|Netherlands (AEX)||Malaysia 30|
|Portugal (PSI 20)|
|Spain (IBEX 35)|
|Swiss Blue Chip (SMI)|
|Techmark (FTSE techMARK 100)|
IG offers a wide range of Forex CFD products, including major and minor currency pairs. Australasian, Scandinavian and exotic and emerging currency pairs are also available. You can even find Bitcoin CFDs in IG's product range.
Energy and commodity CFDs
|Oil - Brent Crude||Spot Gold||Cocoa (London, US)|
|Oil - US Crude||Spot Silver||Coffee (Robusta, Arabica)|
|Heating Oil||Spot Palladium||Orange Juice|
|Carbon Emissions||Spot Platinum||Cattle (Feeder, Live)|
|London Gas Oil||High Grade Copper||Lean Hogs|
|Natural Gas||Iron Ore||Cotton|
|No Lead Gasoline||Rapeseed|
|Sugar (No.5, No.11 World)|
|Wheat (London, Chicago, Milling)|
|Soybean (Meal, Oil)|
IG's bond CFD range includes US, Japanese and large European government bonds.
|Europe||US||Asia / Pacific / S Africa|
|German Bobl, Bund, Buxl, Schatz||Treasury||Japanese Govt Bond|
|OAT French Govt Bond||T-Note (2, 5 & 10-yr)|
|Long-term BTP Italian Govt Bond|
|UK Long-term & Short-term Gilt|
|SHARES (available only for UK and Irish customers)|
|Europe||Americas||Asia / Pacific|
|UK (FTSE100, FTSE250 and other small cap stocks)||USA (S&P 500, NASDAQ 100 and other small cap stocks)||Australia (ASX / S&P 300)|
|Austria (ATX, WBI)|
|Belgium (BEL 20)|
|Germany (DAX, HDAX, MDAX)|
IG Smart portfolio review
The smart portfolio is one of the newest IG products. In a smart portfolio IG provides ETF portfolios managed by BlackRock, the issuer of iShares ETFs. This is basically a robo-advisory type service, in which BlackRock is constantly rebalancing the portfolios based on market conditions. You have to open a separate account for smart portfolios and there is a GBP 500 minimum account balance. After opening an account, IG assesses your risk profile and provides you a smart portfolio that best fits your needs. You might ask why is this better than a mutual fund? Well, firstly, you get a more personalized product and secondly, more competitive pricing.
IG doesn't apply many non-trading fees, except for forex conversion and inactivity fees, which may not even apply to you if you keep trading regularly and if you transfer the same currency to your account as your base account currency.
However, IG is not the cheapest provider when it comes to trading. The estimated cost of a $10,000 CFD trade is $15, which compares to $1 at Interactive Brokers and DEGIRO on the one end of the spectrum, and to $20 at Saxo Bank on the other. In terms of fees on direct stock investments IG compares more favourably: a £10,000 stock trade will cost IG's clients £5 (c.$6.5) if they trade frequently (£8, c.$10.5 if they don't). This figure is $5 at both Interactive Brokers and DEGIRO and $12 at Saxo Bank. Of course you will need to see these fees in the context of IG's product offerings, which is quite extensive in the CFD universe but is more limited in terms of other products.
Another considerable charge is the funding cost IG charges when you keep your position open overnight. This is usually 2.5% over the relevant interbank rate, which is actually quite competitive.
For each trade you have to pay either a trading fee (share, and share CFD purchases), an asset management fee (for Smart Portfolios) or an implicit charge built into the price of the index, commodity, FX, etc. This implicit charge is the spread between buy and sell prices. These spreads are different at different times of the day, and they may vary based on market prices.
|SHARE CFD||STANDARD TRADING FEE||MINIMUM FEE (ONLINE / PHONE)|
|USA & Canada|
|USA||$0.02 per share||$15 / $25|
|Canada||C$0.03 per share||CAD25 / CAD25|
|Europe / Middle East / Africa|
|UK||0.10%||£10 / £15|
European (ex. Greece)
(Euro includes: Austria, Belgium, Eire, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain)
Euro: €10 / €25
|Greece||0.475%||€25 / €40|
|South Africa||0.20%||ZAR100 / ZAR100|
|Asia / Pacific|
|Australia||0.10%||A$8 / A$8|
|Singapore||0.10%||SGD15 / SGD15|
|Japan||0.20%||JPY1500 / JPY2500|
|Hong Kong||0.25%||HKD100 / HKD100|
|International Order Book (IOB)||0.15%||$15 / $25|
Index, forex, commodity and bond CFDs
Other CFDs don't have explicit charges. Instead IG builds its fees into the spread.
|USD share option||$5|
|EUR share option||€3|
|CHF share option||CHF3|
|GBP share option||£10|
|CAD share option||C$6|
|AUD share option||A$5|
We outline the share trading fees for UK clients below. If you also have a CFD account and you made at least one trade in the previous month, each of your UK share trades will cost £5 (UK clients). Other fees, listed at the end of this section (such as IG inactivity fee, FX conversion) also apply.
|REGION||COMMISSION||MINIMUM COMMISSION (online / phone)|
|UK (FTSE100, FTSE250 and other small cap stocks) (1-9 trades)||£8||£8 / £40|
|UK (FTSE100, FTSE250 and other small cap stocks) (10+ trades)||£5||£5 / £40|
|Austria (ATX, WBI)||0.1%||€10 / €50|
|Belgium (BEL 20)||0.1%||€10 / €50|
|Germany (DAX, HDAX, MDAX)||0.1%||€10 / €50|
|Ireland (ISEQ)||0.1%||€10 / €50|
|Netherlands (AEX)||0.1%||€10 / €50|
|USA (S&P 500, NASDAQ 100 and other small cap stocks)||$0.02 per share||$15 / $50|
|Asia / Pacific|
|Australia (ASX / S&P 300)||0.1%||A$10 / A$50|
If you invest in IG's Smart portfolios, you will pay a "Total Cost of Ownership" fee, consisting of two components: the cost of the underlying ETFs and a management fee of IG. ETF costs will be 0.22% on average regardless of the amount invested, although this may vary depending on your exact allocation. Management fees are charged in layers and will be lower when you invest more. For your first £50,000 you'll be charged 0.65% and between £50,000 and £250,000 you'll be charged 0.35%, while on any investments above £250,000 your management fee will be 0.10%. For example, if you invest £60,000, you'll pay 0.65% on the first £50,000 and 0.35% on the amount over £50,000 (in our case £60,000-£50,000=£10,000).
|SMART PORTFOLIO CHARGES||£0-£50,000||£50-£250,000||£250,000 and over|
|Average ETF costs||Avg. 0.22% (range: 0.20-0.23%)|
|Total Cost of Ownership||0.90%||0.60%||0.35%|
An IG inactivity fee of £12 / month is charged after two years of inactivity.
The financing charge is 2.5% over the relevant interbank rate for CFDs, excluding mini and micro contracts, for which this charge is 3% over the interbank rate. For Forex futures the financing charge is based on the current tom-next rate.
Receiving live price data may incur a fee depending on the number of trades you make. Real time charts cost £30 a month, although IG waives this if you place four or more trades a month.
IG has multiple trading platforms. The core platforms include the web platform and IG’s mobile and tablet apps, which are available for Apple, Android and Windows devices. As an extra, you can also view your account and even trade using your Apple watch.
IG also offers desktop platforms for trading: L2 Dealer and ProRealTime, and you can also use MetaTrader4. All of these platforms are totally free, or free provided you satisfy certain restrictions (e.g. minimum balance or minimum level of trading activity).
The number and complexity of the platform portfolio can be scary for a new customer and it will probably take some time to discover which one is good for what.
You can compare the some of the key features of these platforms:
|Web platform||Mobile / tablet||L2 Dealer||ProRealTime||MetaTrader4|
|Pricing||Free||Free||Free (you need a £1,000+ balance)||£30/month (refunded if you trade actively)||Free|
|Products||CFD, share dealing||CFD, share dealing||CFD, share dealing||CFD only||
|Available markets||All||All||All shares, all forex,
OTC indices and OTC commodities
|All||Indices, forex, selected commodities.|
IG's web platform is not the sort of flashy platform some of the other providers provide, but it has a good range of functionalities. It is definitely an easy-to-use platform for more experienced traders, but starters might need some time to become familiar with the functions.
The login process is a one-step login – a two-step authentication would be useful here, although this isn’t currently available.
The default platform view may seem a bit crowded and overwhelming at first. The window is built up of panels, including:
You can customize your dashboard through an almost manual process: you need to drag and resize your tabs manually. This gives you the freedom to fully customize your platform.
The search functionality (top left tab called “Finder”) works as you’d expect, plus you can also browse available investment options by looking through the investment categories in the list below the search bar.
If you're into technical analysis, you'll like the chart tool. You can add several technical indicators, make your own drawings and trend lines, and set alerts based on technical indicators. You can also save these charts, but only in a picture format.
One big shortcoming of the web platform is that you can't see your accounts simultaneously. If you have a CFD account, you can't view it at the same time as your share account.
You can select from several order types and two order terms, although not all of them are available for every tradable instrument or country.
Orders can be placed online or over the phone. Just beware that placing orders by phone is more expensive.
You might not be familiar with guaranteed stop orders, which are specific to IG. If you use guaranteed stop you will be safe from any slippage costs (IG guarantees that your order will be executed at the stop price). Of course nothing’s for free, IG will charge you a premium for using guaranteed stop orders.
Trailing stop orders work as an automated service, which you can opt in for all your trades: you cannot choose which trades you want to use it for, you either go “all in” and apply it to all your trades, or you can't use it at all.
The order form can be a bit confusing at first: market orders can be made via the “Deal” tab, while all other orders are made through the “Order to open” tab.
IG promises the best execution and improves the probability of your order being fulfilled by offering partial fills (you can opt in to accept partial fills in the order form), and by offering a “price through current” option. The latter means that you can set a price range within which your order will be fulfilled, so even if prices increase when you’re trying to buy, your order may still be fulfilled if the price is within the range you specified.
If prices become more favourable for you, IG claims it will give you the improved price.
When placing orders you may see an option to choose between “DMA” and “OTC” in the top right corner of the order window. DMA refers to Direct Market Access and it is used to buy CFDs with pricing based on the underlying security price, rather than IG’s pricing. OTC, or over-the-counter, uses IG’s own pricing. This feature is only available for a limited number of securities and accounts.
You can only have one base currency in your account, so if you want to trade in different currencies, you’ll either have to convert currencies for each trade (this is done automatically when you place a trade in a security with a base currency different from your currency), or you'll need to set up a separate account. Forex conversion attracts an extra charge of 0.3%.
IG’s mobile platform is a lot more intuitive than the web trading platform. The mobile (and tablet) platforms are available for iOS, Android and Windows, which is great, but the layout and some functionalities are slightly different for each of these options (e.g. you can trade with shares only through the iOS platform while Android and Windows users can only trade CFDs). This review focuses on the Android version.
The platform uses the same login details as the web platform. You can’t use the web and mobile platform at the same time, so if you log in to one, your other platform will automatically log out.
The most important functionalities are:
The availability of technical analysis is a nice feature, although it's not a perfect fit for mobile. One thing we miss is the News section. You can access news specific to a security by viewing the security, but there’s no centralised newsfeed.
IG provides a wide range of desktop platforms. The hardest part here could be to choose the one that suits your needs the best. We walk you through the possibilities below.
IG has three available desktop platforms:
L2 Dealer is IG’s own trading platform, while ProRealTime and MetaTrader4 are provided by third party partners.
You can use them all for free, although the L2 Dealer is subject to a minimum balance of £1,000 and ProRealTime costs £30 per month which is refunded if you trade actively.
We recommend L2 Dealer for advanced share traders, ProRealTime for advanced technical chartists and MetaTrader4 for forex and index specialists.
Product portfolio wise, CFDs are provided on all three platforms, but share dealing is only available on L2. In MetaTrader4 you can only access forex, oil and metal CFDs.
Thomson Reuter's news streaming is only available in L2 Dealer.
When it comes to using your own automated trading strategies, all of the desktop platforms will do the job, but only MetaTrader4 can handle excel plugins.
We tried setting up desktop trading platforms and, well, let’s say it’s a bit of a challenge. For MetaTrader4 there were two options for logging in, one of which worked and one of which didn't, and we found no guidance about which one to use.
IG has pretty good and useful research functions on news, and technical and fundamental analysis as well. The only missing piece of the puzzle here is a dedicated research team that could provide you analysis and recommendations in all of the asset classes.
Under IG's research function you will find quite a wide range of information and tools.
The market data function is a useful all-in-one research platform. You can reach this function from the web platform but it functions as a separate research portal. It allows you to search information on stocks, indices, and even commodities. On top of the actual bid-ask prices and interactive chart of the selected financial product, you can find the following:
You can access stock fundamental data from the last five years. Unfortunately this data cannot be downloaded to excel where you would be able to analyze it further.
The economic calendar is a well-developed research function that you can use to search for both macroeconomic and company events. The function is approachable from both web and mobile platforms.
The Market screener tool is really useful if you are searching for stocks based on some fundamental factors. For example, you can set up a screen where you search for companies from the US financial sector, above USD 1 billion market cap and with a dividend rate higher than 2%. You can only access this function from the web platform.
IG has a pretty good news function that is powered by Thomson Reuter's. You can search for relevant news in 10 languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Swedish, Chinese and Japanese. You can get to the news function directly from the web platform. There is no search function on the mobile platform but you can find related news of one financial instrument.
The trading diary is a unique function where you can add notes to your daily trading activities.
If you're a beginner you'll find IG's educational platform really useful. You'll find videos on trading basics. You can also sign up for upcoming webinars or download the IG academy app.
On IG's website, you'll find some additional research opportunities as well. If you don't want to chase the news you can sign up for a weekly or daily newsletter and get a summary of the next week's most important events, expert's opinion, and trading opportunities. IG Live is a video center where you can watch the latest videos on the market, upcoming events, expert opinions and more.
Under the tools function at the web platform, you can find research and charting services provided by IG's third party partners. ProRealTime is a charting tool that is free of charge if you trade at least four times a month. Otherwise, it has a monthly EUR 40 fee. The Aurochartist is an automated chart pattern recognition tool that comes free of charge with your account. Trading Central is a company that provides trading tips based on technical analysis. This service is free of charge as well.
We have mixed feelings about IG’s customer service. It's a bit of a challenge to get to the right person but once you find them they will give you relevant answers and information.
On the upside is the fact that they're available by email 24/7. The live chat and phone support is good too.
After you open your account you'll have a dedicated account manager, but ours was hardly available when we tried to contact him. Some of the contact phone numbers from the help and support page didn't work either.
The live chat and email support services are helpful and reliable. On the help and support page, which you can reach from the trading platform, you can follow a query function that makes the customer service process more transparent.
The customer support is usually available in your local language, but for some emerging countries, like Romania, only English customer service might be available. You should check this with IG customer service before opening an account.
The help, support and FAQ functions on IG's website are a bit underdeveloped. We struggled to find information on even basic topics like available account currencies or withdrawal fees.
IG operates 14 sales offices around the globe where you can meet them in person. They have offices in Chicago, London, Dublin, Madrid, Paris, Stockholm, Geneva, Milan, Johannesburg, Düsseldorf, Luxembourg, Dubai, Singapore, Melbourne and Tokyo.
IG has a friend referral program, which means you can receive a GBP 50 gift for inviting one your friends to open an account. You will receive this gift if the friend you invite opens an account and places five trades within six months.
We hope you found our review of IG helpful. Please let us know if you have any feedback.
Our experience of testing IG was mixed, but positive overall.
In the UK and Ireland, we recommend IG's equity trading and smart portfolio products for starters and buy and hold investors. Outside the UK and Ireland, we would mainly recommend IG for frequent traders who are able to monetize on the wide range CFD portfolio and because of its almost unlimited functionalities.
IG used to be one of the more innovative market players in online trading. New products, especially the smart portfolios developed with BlackRock, show that the company is still focusing on upcoming industry trends.
We definitely liked the research and customer service experience, while the trading platforms and pricing are somewhat mediocre compared to the competition.
The product portfolio has been developed for UK and Irish customers via equity trading and smart portfolio investing (IG's robo-advisory type service), but IG's offerings are essentially limited to CFDs in all the other countries.
What would normally be a big plus, namely the wide range of functions, platforms and tools, actually creates quite a scary user experience. Even after spending several days with IG's platforms we always had the feeling we might be missing some useful functionality and we couldn't really figure out where to find information on the full functionality list. We think that if you concentrate on only one platform or function you will enjoy the value that IG provides.