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A-book/B-book brokers: what the difference is and how to make a right choice

Ever pondered the difference between A-book and B-book risk models in forex while selecting a broker? Or considered which model suits your brokerage venture best? What do these terms imply? Who acts as a forex market maker? How much do these brokers really make? Let's dive deeper!

At first glance, forex trading seems straightforward for traders: click a button, initiate a trade, and see the transaction's confirmation. But what's the underlying mechanism? Every trade requires a counterpart: if an asset is being bought, someone else must be selling it.

Brokers employ two distinct operational technologies - the A-Book and B-Book models. Both cater to how client orders are interfaced with the market, each with its unique pros and cons.

Forex A-book Model

In the A-Book model, the broker directs all trader orders straight to the forex liquidity provider, who in turn channels them to the interbank market. The A-Book broker earns through commissions on a set transaction volume (typically per lot) or via spread markup. Here, the broker merely acts as a facilitator of financial services. The end counterpart consists of traders executing contrasting orders or a liquidity provider. The standout feature of the A-Book model is the absence of conflict of interest. The broker's commission remains consistent, regardless of traders' profits or losses. Ultimately, both the broker and traders benefit from successful trading – the more trades executed by traders, the higher the broker's commission.

Forex, as straightforward as it might seem, has complexities. The A-Book model, while beneficial in some ways, presents challenges for both traders and brokers. To operationalize this model, brokers need to form partnerships with liquidity providers, secure licenses, and set up technical support to channel client orders to the external market. This incurs both time and monetary costs. As a result, A-Book brokers often have to amplify the spread markup to cover these expenses.

Forex B-Book Model

In the B-Book model, the broker essentially becomes a market maker for forex, managing orders internally. This means that the trader's orders never leave the broker's platform, bypassing any external liquidity sources. This model, however, creates a potential conflict of interest, as the broker assumes the dual roles of mediator and counterparty. This duality sometimes gives the B-Book model an undeserved bad reputation. While forex outcomes can be unpredictable, leading to both substantial profits and losses, any gains for traders equal losses for the broker. Some unscrupulous brokers might manipulate quotes or spy on client stops, using server-side plugins to maximize trader losses. Though there are brokerages that operate like this, we focus on legitimate forex brokers, not these outliers. Such deceitful actions by brokers can be self-destructive. Wronged clients can tarnish a broker's reputation, which is vital in the forex world. Sustainable partnerships are the name of the game.

Hybrid Model

Addressing the limitations of the A-Book and B-Book models, the hybrid model emerged, favored by many established brokers. In this approach, the broker handles smaller transactions internally, while more substantial ones are routed to liquidity providers and subsequently to the interbank. This presents an optimal but nuanced strategy for both parties. Brokers face the challenge of correctly classifying traders. They employ sophisticated software that monitors various metrics like trader deposits, leverage, transaction risk levels, and the utilization of protective stops. This intelligence assists brokers in deciding which model, A-Book or B-Book, is best suited for a particular transaction.

Сomparison of A-Book and B-Book brokers' profitability

Perhaps after reading all the information above, you have a logical question: which broker earns more A-Book or B-Book one? Which model should I personally choose for my business to reduce my brokerage risks? There is no definite answer to this question. It all depends. Statistically, the profit of an A-Book forex broker is less, but more stable. It is well known that 80-95% of traders lose their initial deposit within 6 months, which plays into the hands of the Forex B-book broker. But don't forget about unforeseen circumstances that regularly occur and make B-book brokers suffer huge losses, often for many months in a row.

We conclude that none of the schemes can be a panacea for losses. You must decide which business model to choose for you, depending on your business plans and strategies. The same goes for traders who choose their broker. Everything is very individual. Neither A-Book nor B-Book model guarantees a successful business or a profitable trade. These models are just tools for doing business, and your personal benefit depends only on how professional you can use these tools. Forex trading provides you with unlimited opportunities for success and financial well-being, if you approach running your business responsibly, acquire patience and use business models that are suitable exact for your purposes.


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