Opening demo accounts: 10 minutes.
Installing MetaTrader: 5-10 minutes.
Opening Live Accounts: 30-60 minutes including supplying your documents.
It is important to note that all charting software will be linked to a timezone, normally according to the broker timezone that supplied it.
Without going into too much detail, it is important to make sure that you use a GMT/BST+2h setup – this will mean you have 5 Daily candles/bars per week instead of 6 and that your 4-hourly, Daily, Weekly and Monthly chart candles are correctly displayed in the same way that the majority of the rest of the World, and certainly professionals, will be looking at their charts.
We use MetaTrader 4 from FX Pro for this reason and because it has a good variety of instruments available to monitor on the Demo version but there others like FX Open and Alpari so do let us know if you find any others you like. If in doubt, pop the broker an email to see what their GMT/BST offset is because they do vary. If your preferred broker does not have a GMT/BST+2h offset then just use a demo account from one that does for accurate charting of the timeframes above one-hour bars/candles.
Of course you may have noticed by now that we quite like MetaTrader 4 for charting because of the custom Indicators, Profiles, Templates and Automated Trading programs we have created for it; plus it is free, well documented, widely available and supported. If you’re serious about trading using technical analysis, MetaTrader gives us as much ability for customisation and automation as we’ve ever needed.
We recommend you at least get a demo account opened with FX Pro because we have tested all our MetaTrader 4 software developments with their installation and use it daily.
We will be moving to MetaTrader 5 when it is ready for our needs but, for now, MetaTrader 4 serves our needs very well and reliably. Do have a look at what new developments are coming though because it will ultimately be the next generation that we all migrate to for our charting and trading.
IG Index PureDeal Platform
If you have an IG Index account, their charts are are adequate for trading with and from but, for us, it too proprietary and slow to use them for much more than checking IG Index actually bid and ask prices when we use them to place manual trades.
One handy free feature IG Index do have though is price alerts by email and text message so you might want to check that out.
It’s free to open an IG Index account and handy for placing trades between 9 and 10pm on Sundays, before other brokers open, so it’s worth spending the time opening an account for those reasons alone. Their new platform version does include a lot of additional market information more suited to fundamentals traders though so be careful not to get distracted by information overload – we trade quite profitably without looking at all of that.
Dukascopy is the broker we recommend for try direct market access for those with accounts maintaining a deposit over £50,000. Their JForex (Java) platform is very powerful and the does actually offer a lot of the programming capabilities of MetaTrader.
JForex doesn’t have quite the amount of online resources and support that we have found for MetaTrader so, for now, we haven’t got around to programming our tools for this yet, but if there’s enough demand then we will certainly look into it further because the programming languages are all ultimately quite similar.
Plus we use Dukascopy to download their Forex tick-data for our backtesting, due to their reputation for reliability, so it is definitely worth getting to know their tools if you want to get into EA backtesting.
Recently Dukascopy have actually started to offer MetaTrader as well (although their GMT/BST offset is 0 hours) so we are monitoring that with interest because it does mean you can use a lot of our Indicators, Profiles, Templates and Automated EAs directly with them.
Oanda also have their own Java platform for charting and trading through a web browser, the interface is very fast and useable but again it doesn’t have the programming abilities that we need for our bespoke indicators, alerts and automated trading.
They do also offer MetaTrader 4, which is worth having installed so that you can see quotes over the weekend and the Sunday open prices a from 7-8pm GMT/BST, whereas all other MetaTrader brokers we know of open at 10pm GMT/BST on Sundays. The advantage of this of course is the ability to see more price-action preceding the 10pm Sunday gaps to better understand whether they are true gaps or have already closed and re-opened before other brokers start charts start showing prices at 10pm GMT/BST.