Trading for beginners: a guide (2024)

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.

Trading for beginners: a guide (2024)
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