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While both are highly leveraged trading opportunities, they are considered to be quite different in the eyes of most investors, and there may be situations that are more or less suited to spread betting over CFDs, depending on the investment circumstances at hand.
CFDs and spread betting are often compared directly because they have a number of key similarities — namely that both are highly leveraged and can as a result return significant sums from incremental market movements. But while they may have some practical similarities, they also have key differences.
Spread betting for many professional traders has something of a stigma attached — it is considered little more than a gambling activity. While spread betting is seen as an extra-market transaction, CFDs are seen as part of the market and more of a financial transaction than financial spread betting. While there are practical differences, both instruments are of course useful for investing in a range of markets with highly leveraged positions.
Spread betting is technically thought of as a gambling activity. While a slightly different slant on trading than CFDs, or say speculating in shares, spread betting in practice works as a highly leveraged, highly tax-efficient instrument that is capable of delivering returns of the same extent as CFDs.
The same is also true on the reverse side of the coin, with losses being unlimited multiples depending on how far the position has moved since you entered the trade. Thus for minimal capital exposure, traders can realise both significant gains and losses with spread betting, all with the added advantage of being completely tax free in most cases. While CFDs can in some circumstances provide traders with more hefty returns, it would be a foolish trader to write off spread betting as an effective way of generating an efficient capital return.
Spread betting is a fast growing area of financial trading, with estimates showing that the UK industry now supports over 1 million trading accounts. As financial instruments go, spread betting is probably amongst the easiest to understand in practice, because it is visually so simple.
Unfunded leverage is one of the first major draws, possible because the leverage takes a slightly different form than with, say, CFDs. Instead of inflating the size of the position, the leverage is built into the DNA of the spread betting transaction through the multiples effect, where stakes are multiplied. Another key reason why traders opt to spread bet is because of the tax-free nature of spread betting as a trading style. Because it is regulated as a gambling activity by the tax authorities, you can expect to be exempt from Capital Gains tax and Stamp Duty, although income tax will be payable by those that earn their sole income from spread betting.
This is a major draw, particularly for those engaging in larger individual transactions, because it can deliver a major cash saving on other, less tax-efficient investments. Tax Efficiency: financial spread betting is considerably more tax efficient than trading CFDs, because of one crucial distinction in the way they are considered by the tax authorities in the UK. No Commission: spread betting positions charge no commission, unlike CFD positions which are charged at a percentage of the total transaction cost.
The only cost involved in spread betting is wrapped up in the spread which represents the commission portion, and has no relation to the size of the transaction or the eventual gains you will realise. Its simply usually just a couple of points, and therefore tends to work out cheaper than CFD commission in the majority of cases.
Trade in Sterling: spread betting will always be denominated in your base currency, because that is the currency through which all your trading activity takes place. Wider Spreads: to account for the lack of commission, the spreads offered in spread betting are often comparatively wider than the same picture in CFD markets, which effectively handicaps the trader on whichever side of the trade he falls.
Because of the width between the buy and sell price, long positions have to go longer and short positions have to go shorter in order to generate the same levels of return. Fixed Daily Markets: spread betting positions are automatically settled at the end of the trading day, with the option for renewal. This makes it more cumbersome as an instrument for long-term investing, and opens up your position to greater volatility around the open of trade — a notoriously volatile period for doing market business.
The bet itself is not transferrable to anybody else. Spread Betting, unlike traditional investing, is actually a form of betting. Unlike fixed-odds betting, it does not require a specific event to happen. You can actually close in the bet at any time and take home the profits or limit the losses. In these trades, the investor has no ownership of assets in the underlying market.
When trading contract for differences, you are betting on whether the value of an underlying asset is going to rise or fall in the future. In both scenarios, the investor expects to gain the difference between the closing value and the opening value. Similarly, a spread is defined as the difference between the buy price and sell price quoted by the spread betting company.
The underlying movement of the asset is measured in basis points with the option to purchase long or short positions. In both CFD trading and spread betting, initial margins are required as a preliminary deposit. Margin generally varies from. For more volatile assets, investors can expect greater margin rates and for less risky assets, less margin. However in both investment strategies, CFD providers or spread betting companies can call the investor at a later date for a second margin payment.
Risk in investing can never be avoided. In both CFDs and spread bets, a stop loss order can be placed prior to contract initiation. A stop loss is a predetermined price that automatically close the contract when the price is met. To ensure providers close contracts, some CFD providers and spread betting companies offer guaranteed stop loss orders at a premium price. Spread bet, have fixed expiration dates when the bet is placed while CFD contracts have none. Likewise, spread betting is done over the counter OTC through a broker, while CFD trades can be completed directly within the market.
Direct market access avoids some market pitfalls by allowing for transparency and simplicity of completing electronic trades. Aside from margins, CFD trading requires the investor to pay commission charges and transaction fees to the provider; in contrast, spread betting companies do not take fees or commissions. When the contract is closed and profits or losses are realized, the investor is either owed money or owes money to the trading company.
If profits are realized, the CFD trader will net profit of the closing position , less opening position and fees. Profits for spread bets will be the change in basis points multiplied by the dollar amount negotiated in the initial bet.
Both CFDs and spread bets are subject to dividend payouts assuming a long position contract. While there is no direct ownership of the asset, a provider and spread betting company will pay dividends if the underlying asset does as well. When profits are realized for CFD trades, the investor is subject to capital gains tax while spread betting profits are tax free. With similar fundamentals on the surface, the nuanced difference between CFDs and spread bets may not be apparent to the new investor.
Spread betting, unlike CFDs, is free of commission fees and profits are not subject to capital gains tax. Conversely, CFD losses are tax deductible and trades can be done through direct market access. With both strategies, real risks are apparent, and deciding which investment will maximize returns is up to the educated investor. Trading Instruments. Your Money.
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