Pepperstone

Pepperstone

4.5
Score: Very good

Industry award-winning Australian broker with global outreach
> Firm focus on executing trades in Forex
> Wide-ranging research and learning provisions

Ruben Wunderlich

Review from

Ruben Wunderlich
4.5
Score: Very good
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About Pepperstone

Pepperstone is an Australian broker with global reach. Built by traders, for traders, its stated aim is to make trading low-cost, fast and convenient.

Clients are offered the choice of three top of the range platforms from which to trade with the broker having particularly strong links into the forex markets. The in-house cTrader platform has a user-friendly functionality that will appeal to both new and experienced traders. The ever-popular Meta Trader MT4 and MT5 platforms are something of an industry standard and are particularly popular with traders looking to trade using their own systematic models.

Pepperstone offer their clients a range of account types so that users can tailor the service to their own personal requirements. All are supported by an operational and regulatory framework that gives clients a degree of confidence that their funds are secure and the firm has made efforts to gain a reputation for fairness and reliability.

Founded in 2010, Pepperstone has made considerable in-roads into a crowded sector. Its success can be measured by the recent industry rewards it has picked up, including: 2018 UK Forex Awards – Best Forex ECN Broker, Best Forex Trading Support, Best Forex Trading Conditions, and from the same year ‘Best Australian Broker’ (CompareForexBrokers.com.au).

The firm blends the security of being regulated by Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) with an innovative approach to trading the markets. It’s definitely worth giving the broker some consideration. As this Pepperstone broker review outlines, the platform offers a lot of the kind of features that traders are looking for.

Products and Trade Offers

Pepperstone is able to accommodate a wide range of trading styles, but offers limited exposure to non-forex instruments.

Originally founded to trade forex, the firm continues to be particularly strong in this area. It combines tight trading spreads with the improved flow associated with interbank execution. Spreads on the currency pairs EURUSD, USDJPY, AUDUSD, GBPUSD start as low as 0.0 pips; in terms of pricing zero is always hard to beat! These ultra-competitive spreads are paired up with low-latency execution which aims to minimize slippage and order rejection.

There are an increasing number of other markets being made available on the platform but the range is somewhat limited.

  • There are in excess of 50 US stocks to trade. Given this limited number the range focuses on the large cap names and margin rates on these are 10%
  • 5 of the more well-known Cryptocurrencies are available – and these have a leverage cap of 1:5
  • Soft commodities can be traded. There are five to choose from and margin per lot is 2%
  • Energy trading covers a handful of instruments in the Oil and Gas sector
  • 6 commodity instruments give exposure to the metal markets
  • Indices – there are 14 major stock indices available to trade.

Standard accounts come with leverage rates that are the industry standard, up to 1:30. The stock CFDs on offer have a lower ratio of up to 1:10 but those eligible for a Professional account can see this ratio on some instruments increase to 1:300.

Pepperstone focuses on FX markets. It does provide a route into the other global markets but this Pepperstone review found that route to be a fairly narrow path. The total number of non-forex instruments is less than at most other brokers. During this Pepperstone review it became our impression that trading non-forex markets would likely to be done by a forex trader looking to get some kind of generic exposure to another market rather than a specialist trader of those sectors. As the number of markets increases clients will be able to benefit from the high quality of the underlying Pepperstone service. It’s just a case of waiting for that to happen.

The free Demo account takes moments to set up but registering for a Live account takes a little longer which is in line with standard market practise. This delay on the Live account is because of the regulatory conditions the broker has to comply with. Whilst no-one likes such delays they are intended to protect consumers so its good news that Pepperstone is the kind of broker that is required to jump through such hoops. Cash deposits can be made in various ways: credit card, bank transfer, broker to broker, skrill, Bpay, Fasapay, Neteller, Poli, Kiwi Wallet and Union Pay. The minimum opening balance is AUD$200 and account currencies include: AUD, USD, EUR, GBP, CHF, JPY, NZD, CAD, SGD and HKD

You can earn extra rewards when you refer your friends (who then trade with Pepperstone). If they fund their account with more than USD $1,000 (or equivalent), Pepperstone will deposit USD $100 (or equivalent) into your trading account to say thank you.

  • Low trading commissions
  • Great levels of market access in forex
  • Automated trading
  • Limited number of non-forex products
  • Guaranteed stop losses not available
  • Mobile trading not particularly strong

Commissions and Fee Charges

Pepperstone see low brokerage fees to be one of their main selling points. The pricing schedule is relatively transparent and the focus on forex means the data is easy to analyse. There is a degree of complexity due to the platform offering a range of different accounts and each of these come with their own terms and conditions; but with only a limited number of non-forex markets on offer its still quite easy to get a feel for the pricing.

Taking forex as an example, there are four types of account. Spreads on the MetaTrader 4 platform are variable, with quotes coming from as many as 22 Major Banks and Electronic Crossing Networks. The below gives an idea of the strength of the Pepperstone offering and more details can be found on the website.

  • Edge Standard – $0 commissions and interbank spreads from 1 pip
  • Edge Razor – AUD $3.5 per 100k traded. With Raw Interbank Direct Pricing and spreads starting at 0.0 pips
  • Edge Swap Free – $0 commissions, STP processing and spreads from 1 pip (Islamic account)
  • Edge Active Trader – Bespoke terms available for high volume and institutional traders

One of the salient points to take from the above breakdown is that Edge Active Traders can get an upgrade to institutional grade terms and conditions. Whilst Pepperstone might not carry all the ancillary services of some of the multi-asset brokers they certainly offer professional grade services in terms of pricing and market flow.

What Others Say

“With cTrader, you get robust trading infrastructure, lightning-fast speed, and top-tier liquidity. cTrader was designed by and for traders and has a highly customizable user-friendly interface with order management systems and enhanced charting abilities.”

The Pepperstone review by the site blockonomi.com highlights some of the best features of the cTrader platform. Considering clients are also offered MT4 and MT5 its clear to see the platform choices cover most bases.

“Pepperstone covers everything an expert Forex/CFD trader could possible need.”

The site forexfraud.co, in their review brings attention to the capacity of the site to cater for expert traders.

“The combination of fast execution fees, low trading costs and enhanced features which is why Pepperstone is the fastest growing in Australia.”

The main selling point of the platform is the powerful, efficient and cheap trade execution, as highlighted by compareforexbrokers.com.au in their Pepperstone broker review.

Customer Service

Pepperstone have won a multitude of awards for customer service which is offered 24/5 in a multi-lingual format. The support starts at registration when new clients are allocated an account manager who helps traders with on-boarding and refreshingly this doesn’t actually come with a hard sell. Ongoing support from the Help Desk can be accessed via telephone, live chat or email and response times during our testing were very good.

Given the brokers reputation we were surprised to find a few glitches.

During this Pepperstone review our testers found the Live Chat didn’t work as well as would be expected. Live Chat is a great tool and is any broker that provides it gains points for being client-focused but on occasion we felt chats were closed down prematurely by Pepperstone support staff. Our testers reported that at times they had to start some conversations again which is a frustrating experience.

Some of the test questions to the Help desk were based off information we could take from the platform’s own site and then para-phrase as a ‘question’. In most instances even more complex issues were dealt with promptly and professionally. Our testing did however flag up that some of the responses from the customer services team were unfortunately inaccurate or incorrect. In a non-hypothetical scenario we’re sure the right outcome would have eventually been reached, working through a problem with a customer support team is after all an iterative process. This Pepperstone broker review does have to note that this area of the service is not as strong as it could be.

Platform Features and Tools

The MetaTrader platforms made available through Pepperstone can be accessed through the ‘traditional’ downloadable version or a Webtrader version which is accessed through an internet browser. The web-trader version of the platform mirrors the download+install version and has the same full functionality and is even enhanced by Pepperstone’s in-house forex trading technology.

MetaTrader is the world’s most widely used forex trading platform. This popularity stems from it satisfying the needs of the traders that use it. It is robust, user-friendly, packed full of powerful charts and indicators. Most importantly it supports systematic trading, the MQL language it uses allows the traders to program indicators and it’s also possible take advantage of their automated tradind program Expert Advisors (known in the market as EAs).

The cTrader platform which has to be downloaded and installed has similar functionality to the MT platforms. During the testing associated with this Pepperstone broker review we found the cTrader platform had a professional feel to it and for example the execution interface includes a range of more advanced order type settings. Trading can be set to one-click, double click or indeed quick trading can be disabled to ensure fat-finger mistakes are avoided. As with other brokers that provide direct access into the markets it is not possible to provide guaranteed stop losses. This means there are theoretically instances where the market price could gap over a traders ‘regular’ stop loss. The absence of guaranteed stops requires flagging up because a lot of traders now use them as part of their risk management policy.

Those that visit the Pepperstone site to learn more will likely see some trading terminology they don’t see at other brokers. This is a good thing. This Pepperstone broker review was particularly interested in the section of the site https://pepperstone.com/uk/forex-trading/equinix-trading-servers which outlines the trading infrastructure and talks the language of institutional grade broking.
There are optical fibre cross-connects, VPS co-location, and hosting at the Equinix (NY4) facility. All of this results in trade execution with latency as low as 50ms of latency (0.05 of a second). In addition Pepperstone incorporates trade execution, with pricing from 22 banks and liquidity providers and also offers access to dark pool liquidity.

Moving away from the spec sheet, what this means for traders is they have tighter spreads, fewer delays, fewer rejects and fewer requotes when executing.

Mobile Trading

The Pepperstone App supports both Demo and Live account trading; it is free to download and available in Apple iPhone and Android format.

During this Pepperstone broker review we considered the relative strengths of the Pepperstone app and the MetaTrader (MT4 and MT5) apps, the latter again being available on both iPhone and Android platforms and is also free to download. The Meta Trader app allows you to connect to brokers’ servers, receive stock prices and currency quotes, analyze financial markets use charts and technical indicators, trade, and view the history of your trading operations. Choosing between the proprietary and Meta Trader service would largely come down to personal preference but both do the job they are set out to do.

Robo Trading

The cTrader platform runs a service called cTrader Copy. It involves Strategy Providers who broadcast their trading strategies in return for a fee and Investors who can browse the pool of Strategy Providers and choose if they want to follow one. The fee structure is made up of a combination of management fees, performance fees and volume fees and the setting up and breaking of relationships is very flexible.

MetaTrader’s accommodation of robo trading is long established. The Expert Advisors (EA) part of the MT site are programs that have been developed to allow automation of analytical and trading processes. Using algorithmic models traders can systematically analyse market data and execute automatically.

Research and Learning Section

This Pepperstone review established the broker scored highly in terms of the research and learning materials on offer. There is a wide range of material that comes in various formats. It starts at ground level by offering user-friendly ‘Learn to trade Forex’ materials that are pitched towards those starting out in the markets. The Webinars and Trading Guides section also introduce more advanced concepts and lay out the basics behind actual trading strategies. The webinars are of course live events which allow a degree of user interaction but there is also an archive of past webinars to consider. The Trading Guides are in written format and cover topics such as, ‘A three pillar strategy to set up your forex trading’ and ‘Five rules around managing risk’.

Day-to-day trading activity is supported by an Economic Calendar, a Market Review research note and Autochartist. Those that haven’t come already come across Autochartist are in for a treat. It’s a powerful piece of software that recognises trade set ups in the market and helps traders make more informed decisions. Clients of Pepperstone get access for free and can set themselves up to receive notifications of emerging and completed chart patterns such as fibonacci retracements, support and resistance levels and volatility indicators. It’s a very flexible system which takes a lot of the leg-work out of market analysis.

There is no research based on fundamental analysis. Macro-economic themes are discussed but only when pertinent to the forex markets.

Regulatory Details

CFDs and margin FX are leveraged products that carry a high level of risk to your capital. There is also a degree of counterparty risk associated with placing funds with any broker. Pepperstone have set out to manage these risks by complying with the regulatory requirements of top level regulators.

Pepperstone is authorised and regulated by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) and in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). All client funds are segregated in trust accounts with custodian banks including National Australia Bank (Australia) and Barclays (UK). The exact terms and conditions will depend on the domicile of the account holder but these are all clearly laid out in an easy to digest format.

The broker offers a form of Negative Balance Protection but there is some small print that definitely needs to be considered.  Put in very high level terms the question of whether or not the NBP kicks in depends on whose fault it is.

As their site explains: “The ‘Negative balance protection, automated Risk Management System’ is designed to mitigate losses but cannot offer a guarantee that it will do so. Losses may exceed your deposit amount. The Pepperstone MT4 and cTrader platforms have a built-in automatic stop-out system, however this does not guarantee the balance will not go into negative; trade execution depends on market liquidity and pricing.”

“from time to time the Pepperstone Platform’s automated stop-out procedures may not prevent your Account from incurring a negative equity balance due certain market conditions outside of our control. In these circumstances:
(a) you will not be liable for any negative equity balance on your Account; and
(b) we will adjust your Account equity balance to zero within 1 Business Day.
If you find a negative equity balance on your Account that has not been corrected, please contact us at.”

OUR SUMMARY

Industry award-winning Australian broker with global outreach

4.5
Score: Very good
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Pepperstone have a firm focus on executing trades in forex. Some of their bid-offer spreads are as tight as they get and the direct access into the markets ensures traders access deeper levels of market liquidity. As a result the actual trade execution is fast, reliable and low-cost. A lot of traders will appreciate using what feels like an institutional grade broker that has made a firm commitment to this part of the trading process.

Compared to other platforms there are only a handful of non-forex markets to trade and this will matter to some. Other concerns stem from the disadvantages associated with the trading interface giving such direct access into the markets. Low latency and zero pip spreads are great but on the other hand it means that guaranteed stop losses can’t be offered and a market gap could therefore be costly. In a similar fashion, the level of market access means there is a trade off in terms of negative balance protection. To their credit Pepperstone have demonstrated they are aware of the issue around negative balance protection and designed some kind of framework to try to manage it but there is still a risk to measure and manage.

The research and learning resources are plentiful and useful. As expected there is an emphasis on forex markets but they are set out to cater for more advanced as well as novice traders. The regulatory framework is also up there with the best in the sector.

Pepperstone will continue to attract clients because they aim to be ‘best in class’ in terms of trade execution. Earlier in this Pepperstone review we mentioned that when outlining their approach to execution this broker uses terminology that others don’t. That point is worth repeating as in some ways they are pioneering what retail clients can access. The broker will be a best fit for many traders but even those that want a broader range of markets may find it worth trying the demo account to see what an high grade forex broker offers.

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