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CFDs are complex instruments. 70% of retail client accounts lose money when trading CFDs, with this investment provider. You can lose your money rapidly due to leverage. Please ensure you understand how this product works and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing money.
CFDs are complex instruments. 70% of retail client accounts lose money when trading CFDs, with this investment provider. You can lose your money rapidly due to leverage. Please ensure you understand how this product works and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing money.

Your beginner's guide to trading
Your beginner's guide to trading

Your beginners' guide to trading

Trading for beginners can be exciting – and overwhelming. That’s why we’ve outlined everything you need to know for your trading journey, including how to trade stocks and forex trading for beginners.

Start trading today. Call +44 (20) 7633 5430, or email to talk about opening a trading account. We’re here 24/5.

Contact us: +44 (20) 7633 5430

Start trading today. Call +44 (20) 7633 5430, or email to talk about opening a trading account. We’re here 24/5.

Contact us: +44 (20) 7633 5430

In plain English: what is trading?

Trading is speculating on an underlying asset’s market price movement without owning it. So, basically, trading means that you’re only predicting whether a financial asset’s price will rise or fall.

You can trade hundreds of financial markets, including stocks, forex, commodities, indices, bonds and more. We offer more than 13,000 CFD markets for you to speculate on – think Meta shares, the US dollar against the British pound, crude oil and the FTSE 100.

an illustrated trader deciding what market to trade in.

When you trade, you’ll use a platform like ours to access these markets and take a position on whether you think a market’s price will rise or fall. If your prediction is correct, you’ll make a profit. If incorrect, you’ll incur a loss.

The financial instruments you’ll use to trade on an asset’s price movements are known as ‘derivatives’. This simply means that the instrument’s price is ‘derived’ from the price of the underlying, like a company share or an ounce of gold. As the price of the underlying asset changes, so does the value of the derivative.

To understand this, let’s look at an example of speculating on shares. If the price of a share goes up from $100 to $105, the value of the derivative will increase by the same amount. If you bought the derivative at $100, you could now sell it at $105. Although you never own the share itself, your profit or loss will mirror its price movements.

So, why use a derivative?

With derivatives trading, you can go long or short – meaning you can make a profit if that market’s price rises or falls, as long as you predict it correctly. Contrarily, if the market moved against your speculation, you’d incur a loss. This is because trading isn’t owning the actual financial asset. With owning something outright, such as gold for example, you’ll only make a profit if the gold price climbs.

Leverage can be another reason to trade with derivatives.

Trading with leverage means that, instead of paying the total value of your trade upfront, you’ll put down a fraction of its value as a deposit. This is called ‘margin’. This means leverage can stretch your capital much further as you can open large positions for a smaller initial amount.

With leverage, your total profits or losses are calculated based on the full position’s value, not how much you paid to open that position. You can make far more than the initial margin amount you paid to trade – and you can also lose far more. This means leverage has built-in risk.

Interested? Practise trading with a free demo account

All of this new terminology can be a lot to digest. So, we’ve created a table below with five key trading terms every beginner should know.

5 key trading terms

Term Definition
CFD trading

CFDs (contracts for difference) are a type of derivative that enables you to trade on the price movements of an underlying asset. You’d do this by agreeing to exchange the difference in that asset’s price from the time you open your position to when you close it. The difference at these two points is what you stand to gain or lose.

How to trade CFDs

Going long, going short

Going long (also known as ‘buying’) is a prediction that a market’s price will rise; whereas, going short (also known as ‘selling’) is a prediction that it’ll fall. However, short selling is risky because losses can be unlimited if risk isn’t managed properly, since there’s no limit to how much a market’s price can rise.

Learn more about short selling

Trading on margin

Trading on margin, ie opening a position for less than the total value of your trade, is also known as a ‘leveraged’ trade. For example, if you bought 10 CFDs on shares worth $100 each, the position’s total value is $1000. With a margin deposit of 20%, you could open a trade of this value with $200.

Learn more about leverage


Margin is risky in the sense that you risk losing far more than your initial deposit, and your losses can far exceed your margin amount. Risk represents the possibility of monetary loss. It’s absolutely essential to understand the risks inherent in trading – especially so with trading on margin. Fortunately, we offer mechanisms to help you manage your risk.

How to manage risks when trading


Volatility refers to times when markets are moving rapidly, typically as a result of announcements, events or market sentiment. While it inherently comes with higher risks, you can also find opportunities if you have a solid trading plan that includes comprehensive risk management measures.

Learn about trading volatility

Financial markets for new traders

We offer over 13,000 popular financial markets. With us, you’ll trade these markets using CFDs.

the types of markets people can choose

What is share trading?

Share trading is speculating on whether the share price of a public company will rise or fall. This means you can go long or short: if you’re bullish, you’d go long; or you’d go short if you’re bearish. Either way, if your speculation is correct, you’d make a profit. On the other hand, you’d incur a loss if you predicted the market movement incorrectly.

What is forex trading?

Forex trading is the exchange of one currency for another. The forex market is the biggest and most liquid in the world – it’s decentralised and one of the few true 24/7 markets.

Forex is traded in pairs, which consist of two currencies that are traded against each other. There are hundreds of different combinations to choose from, but some of the most popular include the Euro against the US dollar (known as the EUR/USD), the US dollar against the Japanese yen (USD/JPY) and the British pound against the US dollar (GBP/USD).

When trading forex, you’ll be speculating on whether one currency’s price will rise or fall against another currency – for example, if the US dollar (USD) will weaken or strengthen against the Euro (EUR).

If your prediction is correct, you’ll make a profit. If incorrect, you’ll incur a loss. As with trading other markets, you can go both long and short.

What is index trading?

Index trading is speculating on the price movements of a collection of underlying assets that are grouped together into one entity. When you trade on the index, you’re trading on all its constituents at the same time.

Types of indices you can trade include :

  • Equity indices
  • Sector indices
  • Bond indices
  • Commodity indices
  • Real estate investment trust (REIT) indices

An index’s components will always have something in common which groups them together, eg the 500 biggest US-listed companies by market cap are grouped into the S&P 500 index.

We offer over 80 international indices, so you can trade any of the world’s the biggest and most popular indices with us.

What is commodities trading?

Commodities trading is speculating on the market price of natural resources such as gold, sugar cane and Brent crude oil. There are ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ commodities. Hard commodities are mined substances like precious metals, diamonds, oils, gases, and the like. Soft commodities are plant and animal resources like grains, sugar cane, coffee beans and cattle and other livestock.

Some commodities, like gold for instance, have a reputation for being a safe haven in troubled times and are often used as hedges against things such as inflation and macroeconomic volatility.

Trading for beginners: where to learn more

Getting started with trading can be an intimidating experience, with so much to learn. That’s why we created IG Academy, a self-learning hub on our platform, full of interactive online courses, webinars, and live sessions with our resident experts.

IG Academy’s content ranges from the most beginner concepts right up to the very advanced, professional trader level. It’s completely free and easy to use.

Once you’ve got the basics down, our website’s analyse and learn section also contains a host of resources, including strategy and planning articles that help you perfect your technique and news and trade ideas to keep you up to date on current market events. There are even trading podcasts, seminars, and tips on risk management, too.

But, as we all know, practice makes perfect. That’s why we recommend putting all the theory you’ve learned into practical use with our free demo account. Here, you’ll be able to trade with $20,000 in virtual funds in a risk-free environment to hone your techniques and build your confidence before doing it for real.

Your first trade: how to do it

After learning about trading beforehand, the only thing left to do is to make your first trade on our live platform. However, if you still want to know more about entering the world of trading, read our How to get into trading page.

Here’s how to make your first trade:

  1. Open and fund your live account
  2. After careful analysis of the market, select your opportunity
  3. ‘Buy’ if you think that market’s price will rise, or ‘sell’ if you think it’ll fall
  4. Select your deal size, ie the number of CFD contracts
  5. Take steps to manage your risk
  6. Open and monitor your position by selecting ‘place deal’
labelled annotations of opening and monitoring ones position on IG platform.

Why trade with us?

There are many trading platforms out there, so why should you choose us?

We have been a market leader since 1974. We’re also focused on the success of our clients, providing a host of educational resources and more.

Here are just a few more reasons to trade with us:

Trade out of hours

We offer out-of-hours and weekend trading on popular stocks and indices

Deal with the best

Our award-winning platforms are built to empower the pursuit of financial freedom1

Access thousands of markets

Trade on over 13,000 CFD markets, including stocks, forex, indices and commodities

Enjoy 24/7 support

Contact us by phone, email or Twitter. We’re here 24 hours a day, except from 6am to 4pm on Saturday (UTC+8).

Learn and build your skills

Draw from our decades of industry experience through educational resources such as IG Academy

Perfect your strategy with trade analytics

Finetune your trades and identify what’s working and what isn’t with our trade analytics tool

Risks and benefits beginner traders should know

You’ll need to evaluate the risks versus the rewards for any trade before you open a position. Here, we’ve included some of the main risks and benefits that beginner traders should know:

Risks Benefits
Leverage – all CFD trades are leveraged, meaning profits and losses can substantially outweigh your initial margin, and you can incur losses rapidly Leverage – because leveraged trades only require you to put up a fraction of the total position’s value, you can stretch your capital and magnify profits, if you make them
Short selling – can give higher risk of losses if a market moves unpredictably. If its price increases, losses could be unlimited, as there’s no limit to how high a market’s price can climb Short selling – going short doubles your trading opportunities, because you can profit (or make a loss) from down trending markets as well as appreciating ones
Volatility – markets can be volatile, moving very quickly and unexpectedly in reaction to announcements, events, or trader behaviour Volatility – a trader with a solid strategy and risk management measures in place can find opportunities to trade on volatility
Margin call – you need a certain amount of money in your account, called margin, to keep trades open. If your account balance doesn’t cover our margin requirements, we may close your positions for you Margin call – you can use risk management tools such as stop orders and alerts to keep up with margin requirements and limit your potential losses


How do I get into trading?

The very best way to get into trading is to find a platform you trust, learn as much as you can about trading beforehand and then practise to get your skill, technique and strategies right. Thereafter, all that remains to be done is to create a trading plan and open a live account.

Where can I learn more about trading?

If you choose a trusted and regulated provider, your money will be safe. We’re a regulated online broker. Through complying with relevant legislation, we meet the highest financial regulation standards.

Our IG Academy is a great resource for learning all about trading, from the most basic concepts to the very advanced. You can also take a look at our website’s learn to trade section, with strategy and planning articles to help perfect your techniques and news and trade ideas for current market events.

What are the risks of trading?

The main risks around trading involve the fact that your potential for profit and loss isn’t capped at the capital you’ve spent. Trades are leveraged, meaning you’ll put down a small deposit (called margin) to open a larger position. However, profits and losses are calculated on that full position size, and can therefore substantially outweigh your margin amount.

You can go either long or short when trading asset’s market prices. Short selling is especially risky, as market prices can keep rising, theoretically speaking. When short-selling, your risk increases as the asset’s price increases. Luckily, there are ways you can manage your risk in trading – including setting stops and limit orders.

Can I practise trading?

With us, you can practise trading with your very own free demo account. Here, you can trade with $20,000 in virtual funds in a risk-free environment before doing it for real.

Where can I learn more about the markets to trade?

Our website’s markets to trade page offers details on the 13,000+ international markets you can trade using CFDs with us.

Try these next

Discover our 13,000+ CFD markets to trade

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Learn exactly how to get started trading with us

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