What is CFD Trading in NZ and How Does It Work?



What is CFD Trading in NZ and How Does It Work?

Contracts for Difference (CFD) trading is a form of derivative trading where investors speculate on the price movement of a financial product, such as forex pairs, stocks, or cryptocurrencies, without actually owning the underlying asset. 

In CFD trading, rather than trading the physical asset, traders engage in an agreement to exchange the difference in the asset's price between the opening and closing of their position. This means there is no delivery of physical goods or securities with CFDs. Instead, the focus is on the movement of prices, allowing traders to profit from both rising and falling markets. This approach offers a flexible way to access a variety of financial markets, making it a popular choice among traders in New Zealand.

Forex CFD Trading

Foreign exchange (forex) is the world's largest financial market, with the total value of the forex industry reaching a staggering $2.73 quadrillion in 2022, a significant increase from $1.93 quadrillion in 2019.

“Forex” refers to the global electronic marketplace for trading international currencies and currency derivatives. It operates as a decentralised market without a central physical location and is the most liquid market in the world. Forex trading involves buying and selling currencies in pairs, such as EUR/USD or NZD/AUD, to speculate on their relative values. Traders profit from the fluctuations in exchange rates between these currencies.

Forex CFD trading's popularity arises from several factors:

  • Accessibility: Forex markets operate 24 hours a day, five days a week, offering traders flexibility and the opportunity to react to global economic events in real time.
  • Leverage: Forex CFDs generally offer higher leverage than other asset classes, amplifying potential profits (and losses).
  • Diversity: Traders can choose from a wide range of currency pairs, catering to different trading strategies and risk appetites.
  • Liquidity: High liquidity in forex markets means traders can enter and exit positions with minimal slippage.
  • Volatility: The forex market's inherent volatility can create numerous trading opportunities for those with a solid understanding of the market dynamics.


Forex CFD trading's appeal lies in its ability to offer traders exposure to currency movements without requiring physical ownership of the currencies. This, combined with the market's immense size and liquidity, presents significant opportunities for informed traders in New Zealand. However, navigating CFD trading with a keen awareness of the risks, particularly those associated with leverage and market volatility, is crucial.



Crypto CFD Trading

Cryptocurrency CFD trading offers a way to engage in the dynamic world of digital currencies without owning actual assets. Cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, are internet-based mediums of exchange that use cryptographic functions to conduct secure financial transactions. They are decentralised and operate independently of a central bank or government, using blockchain technology for secure transfers.

Cryptocurrency CFDs (Contracts for Difference) allow traders to speculate on the future value changes of these digital currencies. Instead of purchasing the cryptocurrency outright, traders enter into a contract with a broker to exchange the difference in the asset's price between the opening and closing of the trade. This method enables traders to potentially profit from both upward and downward price movements in the cryptocurrency market.

However, trading cryptocurrency CFDs carries distinct risks due to the crypto market's deregulated status and inherent volatility. While this volatility can offer high returns, it also significantly increases the risk of loss. 

CFD Trading vs Online Share Trading

Share CFD trading and online share trading present distinct approaches to engaging with the stock market and equities. In share CFD trading, you're speculating on the price movement of company shares without owning the underlying asset. This method employs leverage, which can significantly increase both potential profits and losses. It also allows traders to take positions on rising and falling prices, offering greater flexibility.

Conversely, online share trading involves buying and holding actual shares, granting you ownership of a part of the company. This method is more aligned with long-term investment strategies, offering potential dividends and voting rights but requiring the total capital upfront for purchasing shares.

Justin Grossbard, an industry expert from CompareForexBrokers, highlights the differences between share CFD trading and online share trading: "It's important to note that some online brokers specialise exclusively in CFD trading, while others provide separate facilities for actual share trading. This distinction allows traders to choose between or combine both methods depending on their trading style, investment goals, and risk tolerance. The choice between these two forms of trading hinges on whether a trader prioritises flexibility and leverage (CFD trading) or long-term investment and ownership benefits (share trading)."



CFD Trading with Indices 

Index CFD trading offers an opportunity to speculate on the movements of entire sectors of the global markets, such as Australian and European stock exchanges, without the need to invest in individual stocks. This form of trading allows for exposure to a broad market segment, reflecting the performance of top companies listed on major stock exchanges. 

With Index CFDs, traders can take positions based on their analysis of overall market trends, benefiting from the aggregated performance of numerous companies within a single trade.

Commodity CFDs

Commodity CFD trading allows traders to speculate on the price movements of various raw materials without owning the physical commodities. This type of trading covers many commodities, including precious metals like gold and silver, energy commodities like oil and natural gas, and agricultural products like coffee and sugar. By trading commodity CFDs, investors gain exposure to the commodities market, which can be influenced by factors such as supply and demand dynamics, geopolitical events, and economic indicators. 



Other CFDs

Some brokers provide options for trading CFDs in less conventional products such as Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), IPOs (Initial Public Offerings), futures, options, bonds and treasuries, interest rates, and specific market sectors. This range accommodates a broad spectrum of trading preferences and strategies.

Justin Grossbard from CompareForexBrokers.com comments on the range of market access among CFD brokers: "While the scope of CFD trading allows traders to delve into both traditional and specialised market segments through a single broker, the extent of market access varies significantly among providers. In New Zealand, FMA-regulated brokers like BlackBull Markets, CMC Markets, and IG Trading typically offer access to thousands of CFD markets. In contrast, less established brokers might provide a more limited selection, sometimes only extending to a few hundred financial products." 

Is CFD trading just gambling?

No, CFD trading is not gambling. It is a legitimate form of investment subject to financial regulation and requires skill, knowledge, and experience. Unlike gambling, which is based purely on luck, CFD trading involves informed decision-making and strategic planning. Traders use various trading tools and techniques, such as complex technical analysis and stop loss orders, to enhance the potential for favourable outcomes and mitigate risks. This distinction is crucial for new traders to understand: CFD trading is not a haphazard bet but a calculated approach to speculate on market movements.


Is CFD trading legal in New Zealand?

Yes, CFD trading is legal in New Zealand for both professionals and retail investors, with oversight and regulation provided by the Financial Markets Authority (FMA). This regulatory body ensures that brokers offering CFDs and online trading services comply with specific standards and operate within the legal framework.

What is the Maximum Leverage for Forex in NZ?

In New Zealand, the trading rules for CFDs are slightly more relaxed compared to jurisdictions like Australia (regulated by ASIC), the UK (FCA), and Europe (CySEC), where leverage is capped at 30:1. In New Zealand, traders can engage in CFD trading with up to 500:1 leverage for major forex pairs. This higher leverage allows for significant market exposure but also increases the risk of potential losses. Traders are advised to approach CFD trading with a clear understanding of these risks and the regulatory environment under which they operate.



Is CFD trading good for beginners?

CFD trading can be a good option for beginners, but it demands a strategic and informed approach and comes with a high risk of losing money. If you are new to CFDs, the emphasis should be on developing a solid understanding of market analysis and the various factors that influence asset prices. Then, you can move on to developing a trading strategy for your chosen CFD market.

Key to navigating the world of CFD trading is understanding leverage, which, while offering the potential for amplified gains, also significantly increases the risk of losses. Beginners should always use risk management tools, such as stop-loss orders, to help mitigate these risks. It's advisable to start with a smaller trading account balance and refrain from using high leverage in the initial stages.

Selecting one of the best brokers is another essential step for beginners. A trustworthy, regulated broker provides a secure platform like MetaTrader 4 or MetaTrader 5, valuable educational resources, and strong customer support. This is particularly important for beginners who benefit from user-friendly platforms and the opportunity to practise with demo accounts.

While CFD trading presents opportunities, it comes with challenges, primarily due to the impact of leverage. For beginners, investing time in learning, starting with modest trades, employing risk management tools, and choosing a reliable, FMA-regulated broker are critical steps towards effective and responsible CFD trading in New Zealand.


How do I start trading CFDs in New Zealand?

To begin trading CFDs in New Zealand, choose a broker regulated by the Financial Markets Authority (FMA). You’ll want to ensure that it offers competitive spreads, a range of markets, and suitable trading tools. Brokers typically provide different account types; beginners might prefer no-commission accounts for their simplicity, while more experienced or high-volume traders may opt for commission-based accounts with an ECN trading environment.

When it comes to selecting a trading platform, MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5 are globally popular choices, but some brokers also offer their unique proprietary platforms. Starting with a demo account is beneficial, as it allows you to practise trading strategies using virtual funds without financial risk. To find out more about the different types of trading platforms available, you can learn about the best forex trading platforms in New Zealand overall, or delve into a specific category like the best copy trading software in NZ.

Finally, consider the minimum deposit requirements, which vary between brokers. Most CFD providers in New Zealand require an initial deposit, usually in the range of $100-200, to start real trading. This initial step is crucial in setting the foundation for your trading journey.

Which CFD broker in New Zealand is the best?

BlackBull Markets is often considered the best CFD broker in New Zealand, thanks to their FMA licensing, competitive low spreads, ECN trading conditions, a range of CFD trading platforms and tools, and local Auckland offices. CMC Markets and IG Group are top contenders for traders looking for overseas options regulated by the FMA. 

Noam Korbl from CompareForexBrokers.com provides insight on selecting the best CFD broker in New Zealand: "The choice of the best broker for you ultimately depends on your individual trading styles. For example, BlackBull Markets is an excellent option for the best MetaTrader 4 broker in NZ, while CMC Markets stands out with its proprietary software and IG for its market access. Each broker offers unique features and tools, catering to a diverse range of trader needs and preferences, from beginners to experienced professionals." 

To find out more, you can read an in-depth review about the best forex brokers in New Zealand.


This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial advice. CFD traders and individuals interested in derivative products or other financial services should consult a qualified professional before making investment decisions. It is always recommended that New Zealand CFD traders register with an FMA-regulated brokerage.