Risk Management for Forex and CFD trading

Learn best-practice risk and trade management for successful Forex and CFD trades.

Forex and Contracts-For-Difference (CFD) trading uses leverage, which can greatly multiply your profit or loss. The larger the potential profit, the greater the risk. In fact, before starting to trade Forex and CFD, you need to understand that risk acceptance is a prerequisite for leveraged trading.

Yes there are many Forex trading risks, but there are also various ways to reduce them. We will lead you through the basics of how to minimize your losses using Forex risk management strategies. However, please remember that our aim here is to share knowledge, not advise actions.

Before you start trading in Forex and CFDs, we have some recommendations.
Did you know?
  • read this guide to learn more about Forex trade and risk management.
  • Open a free, easy-to-use demo account so you can learn by doing without any risk.
  • Read our FAQs, before you start trading with a real account.

What is risk management?


General trading risks

Your profit opportunities are always connected to comparable risks. Forex risk management can be seen as a brief-case containing numerous instruments, which you can use to help keep your trading losses low and potential gain high.

Forex trading risk management is based on four important principles, including:

  • recognizing Forex risks
  • analyzing and evaluating those risks
  • finding solutions to reduce those risks
  • managing and applying those solutions consistently.

Assessing the market is a primary focal point for new and seasoned traders. Yes the right market position is important – but experienced traders consider risk management equally important.

Leverage effect

One of the main reasons for choosing to trade Forex and CFD is access to leverage. Why? Because leverage offers a reduced margin requirement when compared to a full investment - you put in less to potentially gain more. But remember, if the market does not react your way, you can also lose more too.

Admiral Markets UK offers Forex trading leverage ranging between 25 and 500-to-one. For example at a leverage of 100-to-one, you can move 10,000 USD with a margin of just 100 USD.

The higher the leverage, the faster you gain profit or loss. If you lose, it may be because of over leveraging - meaning you chose a leverage level with a risk too high for you to manage. While trading with smaller investments is an attractive option for avoiding over-leveraging, it also reduces your potential profit. So, always carefully select your leverage according to your account volume.

Learn trading without taking risks with Admiral Markets demo account

Learn trading without taking risks with Admiral Markets demo account

Inaccurate market assessment

Forex and CFD trading is subject to consistent market movements and every order starts slightly in the negative because the spread (the difference between bid and ask price) gets deducted on order opening. With these points in mind, it's little wonder that your market assessment won't always be right and you will sometimes lose profit. But how much you lose, can be controlled by setting a stop loss mechanism at the final level you are prepared to accept loss. However, bear in mind that setting stop losses too narrowly, might lead to your order being closed on a minimal market movement.

Remember, not every trade will conclude in a profit.

Rapid market movements

The market is constantly influenced by news, opinions, trends and political decisions in milliseconds. Two examples from the many options, are:

  • an influential central bank announcing a major interest rate decision, can cause huge gaps on the trade chart within seconds
  • a professional market player employs large funds to intentionally cause a significant shift in a particular market.

Even if you are actively paying attention to the market, it is not humanly possible to know every change before it happens. Our point? Set up automated stop mechanisms like the stop loss, to close your trading order for you. But remember, the stop loss cannot help you completely avoid loss - just indicate when action can be taken to reduce it.

Market gaps

These are significant leaps in price, that are shown on a trade chart. Market gaps usually occur when the markets are closed, but even open markets can react to unexpected economic news that causes trading orders to close far from the desired threshold. So why is this important? Because even automated mechanisms like the stop loss, can only close orders at the next available quote after the jump. The EUR/USD chart example, shows:

  • an unusually large gap right after a weekend in July 2015, and
  • that there are no prices inside the gap, which makes it impossible for stop loss to trigger before the next attainable market price.
Market gaps
Did you know?

In Forex trading terms, the illustrated gap in this chart represents negative slippage. But of course, a gap this size can also work in the opposite direction causing positive slippage – where you get more profit than your desired take profit would have produced.

Risk Management tools


Stop loss - knowing your limit

Quotes can move rapidly, especially when the market is volatile or nervous. A smartly placed stop loss usually reacts much faster than a human trader could, making it one of your most important Forex risk management tools. With our Admiral.Markets account, you can create a specific stop loss when opening an order or a general stop loss for all open orders. Our MT4-extended Admiral Supreme account also includes a mini terminal to boost your options for setting stop losses.

Choosing the right stop loss is discussed in countless articles and reports, but there is no 'golden rule' for all traders or trades. For each trade, you need to choose the appropriate stop loss limit, by answering several questions.

  • What is the trade's time frame (remember - the longer a trade is open, the more volatile it will probably be)?
  • What is the target price and when do I expect to reach it?
  • What is my account size and current balance?
  • Do I have any open positions?
  • Does my order size match my account size, account balance, time frame and current market situation?
  • What is the general market sentiment (e.g. volatile, nervous, awaiting news or other external factors)?
  • How long will this market stay open (e.g. is the weekend coming soon or is the market closed overnight)?

As there is no general rule for the stop loss limit, we suggest using our free demo account to learn by doing without taking risks. Here you can practice a few example trades and test various stop limits in different scenarios. If you have a live account, you can also use MT4 extensions like our trade terminal function, which displays the indicative risk for stop losses in your account's currency.

Practice example trades and test various stop limits in different scenarios with our free demo account. Learn trading without taking risks.

Practice example trades and test various stop limits in different scenarios with our free demo account. Learn trading without taking risks.

Order size

Even the best traders do not achieve profitable trades every time. In fact, a good quota of Forex trades ranges between 5 to 8 profitable trades out of 10. So it's clearly important to calculate your order sizes with enough trade capital available to outlast market movements.

Choosing leverage

As you know, choosing too high leverage (over leveraging) will increase your risk and a few negative trades can ruin your overall trading result. With Admiral Markets, you can:

  • choose your preferred Forex leverage from 1:25 to 1:500
  • use our trade calculator via MT4 Supreme or our website here, to experiment with different trading scenarios, which may help you select the right volumes for your live trades later.
External factors

Remember to consider external factors in your Forex risk management strategies. There are numerous examples of factors that can influence trading quotes, such as:

  • power outages and/or a failing internet connection
  • being busy or distracted by office work.

Try our trade calculator to experiment with trading scenarios.

Added value services


You may already know that Admiral Markets has been delivering easy, professional access to financial traders for years. But did you know we also provide exclusive safeguards and service packages free of charge?

Free SMS trading notifications

Information is king in the Forex trading world. Our live-account holders can register for our free SMS-service directly at the Traders Room, to receive quick information about processed deposits and withdrawals or impending margin calls.

The system will send an automated SMS notification at a margin level of 130 percent, which gives you more time to react by:

  • closing Forex trades partially/fully
  • adding money via our fast-processing deposit options
  • taking another action of your choice.
Negative balance protection policy

We can help keep your account balance from sliding to a negative amount. Under our negative balance protection policy, Admiral Markets UK compensates for negative balance on your Admiral.Markets account caused by regular Forex trading activities such as gaps. However, it is important to note that this policy:

However, it is important to note that this policy:

  • does not limit your risk until your balance is zero, so please do not use it as a Forex risk management tool
  • protects you against reverse liability and is therefore highly valuable for peace-of-mind in your overall trading experience.

Please familiarize yourself with this policy's terms and conditions.

Stop out

The stop out level or margin call, is another helpful automated MT4 tool because it helps protect you from greater losses in open markets by:

  • constantly monitoring the margin level and updating it in real-time
  • sending you a warning when your account reaches a margin level of 100%, by lighting the balance in your terminal window red
  • closing open position in your Admiral.Markets account at 30% margin level or at 50% in your Admiral.Prime account.
Managing risk in extraordinary events

The Swiss central bank unexpectedly decoupled Switzerland from the Euro on January 15, 2015. Panicked trades ensued, causing an enormous surplus on one side of the market. This led to a severe lack of liquidity, making trades near impossible through significant market peaks. As there was virtually no liquidity for a while, stop losses experienced large delays that were far off their intended target values. This led to significant rejections and losses as well as considerably negative account balances for countless traders.

This kind of extremely rare event is known as a Black Swan. So what, you may ask? At Admiral Markets we are big on providing clear, open information that helps you prepare successful Forex trading risk strategies and in the case of a Black Swan - we are letting you know that there's no chance to prepare! In the Swiss central bank case, two things where made clear:

  • unpredictable events can lead to game-changing alterations, and
  • even central banks can change their mind.

All joking aside, Black Swan events can not be planned for or calculated. So as a general rule for successful Forex and CFD leveraged trading - never trade money you can not afford to lose in the worst case scenario.

Regulation

Admiral Markets UK is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. This regulation involves numerous safeguarding mechanisms like deposit protection and is therefore considered highly reputable globally. For you this means that In the unlikely case of an insolvency, your money would still be secured. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme secures your:

  • deposits (trading positions) administered by Admiral Markets UK, up to an amount of £50,000
  • funds in our segregated bank accounts up to an amount of £85,000.

Our business activity is also monitored permanently and subject to strict rules under these regulations.

Part of helping avoid many of the Forex trading risks we have discussed in future, involves learning from past trades. So taking the time to analyse your trading history and keeping a trade journal, are sensible measures.

Analyzing your past Forex trades will almost always provide useful insights into risks and your personal weaknesses. For example, you may learn that you:

  • are actually adept at trading around news, or have benefited from a Forex risk management strategy that you should explore further
  • have generally negative outcomes from possibly misusing a specific instrument, or note previously hidden risks associated with a particular Forex risk management strategy.

The learning possibilities are endless, but the point is constant - analyzing your past trades can positively influence future ones. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is essential to successful trading.

Advanced MT4 Supreme Edition analysis features such as the connect extension and the trade analysis section, can help your analysis via extensive trade information and account balance adjustments after every completed trade.

Learn trading without taking risks with Admiral Markets Demo Account

Know the big picture


The Forex and CFD trading market offers exciting profit opportunities via daily long and short orders. But remember, it can also deliver big losses if you do not practice effective trade and risk management. Identifying your weakest links and managing them correctly can help limit your losses, because as you now know - you may win 8 of 10 times, but one loss can instantly remove those gains.

We know that the psychological factors around initial trade failure can be disheartening for beginners, but it is important to understand that loss is part of the overall trading experience. Before making your first live trade, understand:

  • that losses are unavoidable
  • how to psychologically handle losses before they even occur.

This article serves as a trader's risk management overview, by offering explanations together with useful countermeasures for general Forex and CFD trading risks. However, Admiral Markets does not provide investment consultancy so please:

  • use this basic information to improve your personal risk management
  • be aware that this information only helps you limit your risks - it is not a guarantee or safeguard.

But hey, don't forget that Forex and CFD trading is not all doom and gloom either! Selecting suitable risk management measures and consistently exercising them, can significantly improve your profit/loss ratio for successful trading.

Risk Management Forex & CFD trading

Identify Risk

Identify possible risks in trading products with leverage.

Choose method

Develope risk management strategies that fit your trading preferences.

Control measures

Continuously control the measures you have taken and open positions.

Apply constantly

Apply strategies you have developed continuously in your trade management.