Do CFD Brokers Trade Against Clients?

Contract for Difference (CFD) trading has become a popular investment choice for retail investors due to its flexibility and potential for leveraging profits. However, a concern that often arises is whether CFD brokers trade against their clients. In this article, we will explore different types of CFD brokers, including regular brokers, ECN brokers, STP brokers, and DMA brokers, to address this concern and provide a better understanding of the dynamics between brokers and their clients.

Regular Brokers (Market Makers)

Trading Against Clients

Regular brokers, also known as market makers, create a market for their clients by providing both the buy and sell prices for a particular asset. This means that they are taking the opposite side of their clients’ trades, effectively trading against them. Market makers profit from the spread between the bid and ask prices and can potentially benefit from clients’ losses.

Conflict of Interest

The fact that market makers trade against their clients can create a conflict of interest. Brokers may be incentivized to manipulate prices or delay order execution to maximize their profits. However, it is essential to note that most regulated market makers are required to adhere to strict regulatory guidelines that prevent them from engaging in such practices.

ECN Brokers (Electronic Communication Network)

No Dealing Desk

ECN brokers provide a platform that connects clients with liquidity providers, such as banks and other financial institutions. They do not take the opposite side of their clients’ trades, eliminating the potential conflict of interest associated with market makers. Instead, they charge a commission for facilitating the trade, earning revenue regardless of whether the client wins or loses.

Improved Transparency and Fairness

ECN brokers offer improved transparency by providing direct access to real-time market data and the best available bid and ask prices from various liquidity providers. As they do not trade against clients, there is no incentive for ECN brokers to manipulate prices or delay order execution. This results in a fairer and more competitive trading environment.

STP Brokers (Straight-Through Processing)

Order Routing

STP brokers operate similarly to ECN brokers, with a key difference being how they route client orders. Rather than connecting clients directly to the interbank market or multiple liquidity providers, STP brokers send orders to a single liquidity provider, often a larger financial institution or another broker. As with ECN brokers, STP brokers do not trade against their clients and earn revenue through commissions or markups on spreads.

No Conflict of Interest

Like ECN brokers, STP brokers eliminate the potential conflict of interest associated with market makers. They provide a more transparent trading experience by routing orders directly to liquidity providers without intervention or manipulation.

DMA Brokers (Direct Market Access)

Access to Underlying Market

Direct Market Access (DMA) brokers provide clients with access to the underlying market, such as an exchange or the interbank market, where they can trade directly with other market participants. DMA brokers do not trade against their clients; instead, they act as intermediaries, facilitating direct access to the market.

Commissions and Transparent Pricing

DMA brokers earn revenue through commissions rather than spreads, ensuring that there is no incentive to trade against clients or manipulate prices. They provide transparent pricing by granting clients access to the same bid and ask prices available in the underlying market.


The concern of CFD brokers trading against clients primarily arises with market makers, who take the opposite side of their clients’ trades, potentially creating a conflict of interest. However, not all CFD brokers operate in this manner. ECN, STP, and DMA brokers do not trade against clients, offering a more transparent and fair trading environment.

To minimize the risk of trading with a broker that may trade against clients, choosing a well-regulated broker that adheres to strict regulatory guidelines is essential. Additionally, understanding the differences between various types of brokers can help you make an informed decision when selecting a CFD broker that best aligns with your trading needs and objectives.