What is Forex Liquidity?
The term liquidity is generally used in the financial markets to describe the ease by which an asset can be converted into cash without difficulty. The importance of liquidity in the forex market is paramount and all market participants should be aware of how it works.
Forex liquidity refers to a currency pair’s ability to be bought and sold without creating a major impact on its exchange rate. A currency pair is regarded as having a high level of liquidity when it can be bought or sold easily, and there is a significant amount of trading activity for that pair.
The importance of liquidity in forex trading is clear to see since it is a key factor in being able to make a trade profitable. Having greater liquidity in a financial market enables an easier transaction flow and makes pricing more competitive. The provision of liquidity is important for well-functioning asset markets and in the case of forex trading, this is where the need for forex liquidity arises and to follow, we will see how liquidity affect forex.
Who Provides Liquidity to the Forex Market?
So, what is a liquidity provider in FX? A liquidity provider is a market broker or institution which acts as a professional market maker, working at both ends of the currency transactions.
Several types of market participants provide liquidity to the forex market thereby increasing the forex liquidity volume. These include central banks, major commercial and investment banks, hedge funds, foreign investment managers, forex brokers, retail traders and high net worth individuals.
The top liquidity providers in the foreign exchange market are known as Tier 1 liquidity providers. These consist of the largest investment banks with large forex departments who provide buy/sell quotes for the forex pairs that they make markets in, often providing their clients with a range of other services.
The Importance of Liquidity in Forex
The importance of liquidity in the forex market cannot be overstressed. As we already noted, one of the most important aspects that enable attractive rewards in trading is the presence of a liquid market. This is where the requirement for forex liquidity services arises.
A liquidity provider will make sure that more price stability is achieved by taking a position in forex pairs that can be offset with another market maker or added to the market maker’s book to be liquidated at a later time. Some forex market makers will watch orders and call levels for clients and can execute market orders on their behalf.
An individual trader will never get direct access to a Tier 1 liquidity provider. Their access to the forex market will be provided by an online broker. Good online brokers tend to use at least some Tier 1 liquidity providers to fill most of their orders and will normally access an ECN/STP network tin order to execute trades. Other brokers operate on a No dealing desk (NDD) basis, which effectively means all their transactions are transmitted straight to a Tier 1 or secondary liquidity provider.
Brokers operating a dealing desk assume the role of a liquidity provider by letting their clients buy and sell on their system with the broker taking the opposite side of the transaction, offloading any risk with professional counterparties as necessary. These firms effectively act as market makers and their business takes advantage of the fact that most traders lose money when they trade.
Online forex brokers usually connect with a number of liquidity providers to obtain better dealing rates and spreads. In doing so, they can offer their customers the best price obtainable from multiple liquidity providers.
What to Consider When Choosing a Liquidity Provider
In order to source the best liquidity provider, brokers need to assess their own specific needs and address several factors. Primarily, a broker should look at the overall package on offer relating to what assets and the kind of liquidity being provided. It is essential that multi-asset liquidity is provided by the liquidity provider together with access to the FIX protocol and historical data. In addition, a nominated account in different currencies should ideally be an option.
Market depth is another key consideration. This provides an indication of the liquidity and depth for a particular currency. The higher the number of buy and sell orders at each price, the higher the depth of the market. A liquidity provider must be able to offer fast trade executions with re-quotes or slippage, particularly during times of high impact market news.
A liquidity provider’s price offering must include spreads which are competitive as well as low commissions and swaps with no compromise either side.
Liquidity providers should also be regulated in the same way as brokers to ensure they are operating under the industry’s best practices and that there is a prime broker backing up the liquidity provider.
Finally, a reputable liquidity provider should be able to provide an automated and robust reporting system to enable them comply with regulatory requirements. Typical reports include trade reports, FIX bridge reporting, swaps and rollover reporting and order book access. Finally, a liquidity provider should be able to implement FIX protocol and other APIs, MT4/MT5 bridge connections and FIX bridges.
Our Forex Liquidity
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