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Dealing Desk vs No-Dealing Desk: What is The Difference?

Image Written by: Dmitri Balabanov

Written by:

Dmitri Balabanov

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9 minutes


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March 28, 2024
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March 28, 2024
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    In the realm of Forex trading, two predominant brokerage models exist: Dealing Desk (DD) and No-Dealing Desk (NDD). Understanding these models is crucial for traders and those aspiring to open their own brokerage. A Dealing Desk broker operates as a market maker, setting prices and managing trades internally, whereas a No-Dealing Desk broker provides direct access to the interbank market, connecting traders with external liquidity providers. This primary distinction is pivotal in shaping a brokerage’s trading environment and operational dynamics.

    The Dealing Desk Model

    In the intricate landscape of Forex brokerage, the Dealing Desk (DD) model is a significant player, often referred to as a market maker. By its very nature, this model shapes the trading environment and strategy for both the brokerage and its clients. Understanding its operational mechanics is essential for anyone considering stepping into this realm, whether as a broker or a trader.

    Operational Mechanics of the Dealing Desk Model

    Trade Execution and Price Setting

    At the core of the DD model’s functionality is its ability to act as the counterparty to client trades. This means when a trader decides to buy or sell, the DD brokerage often takes the opposite side of this transaction. This unique position grants DD brokers substantial discretion in setting bid and ask prices. Unlike prices directly mirrored from the interbank market, these can be slightly adjusted to suit the brokerage’s strategy. This capability to control trade execution not only helps manage the brokerage’s risk exposure but also allows for offering fixed spreads, a feature that can be particularly attractive to certain traders who prefer cost predictability.

    Risk Management in DD Brokerages

    Managing risk is a nuanced and critical aspect of running a DD brokerage. The primary method involves either taking the opposite side of a client’s trade or offsetting it with another client’s counter trade. When there is no immediate internal match, the brokerage might resort to hedging in the open market. This strategy adds layers of complexity to the brokerage’s risk management but is crucial for maintaining balance and ensuring business continuity, especially in volatile market conditions.

    Profit Generation Strategies 

    The crux of a DD brokerage’s profit generation lies in the spreads between the bid and ask prices. Additionally, there can be instances where the brokerage profits from trades that result in client losses. While this may seem straightforward, maintaining competitive spreads and ensuring client satisfaction and retention requires a delicate balance.

    Pros and Cons for Brokerage Owners

    In exploring the DD brokerage model, it’s crucial for potential brokerage owners to comprehensively understand the various advantages and challenges inherent in this approach. This model, centered around the broker acting as a market maker, offers unique opportunities for profitability and control but also brings with it significant responsibilities regarding ethical practice, client trust, and regulatory compliance.

    Advantages of the DD Model

    In the DD model, brokerage owners find unique profit opportunities through the flexibility of setting and adjusting spreads. This control is particularly advantageous in less volatile markets where brokers can secure higher profits through stable spread margins. However, even in more turbulent markets, this flexibility allows DD brokers to adapt quickly, potentially benefiting from increased trading volumes brought on by market swings.

    Another significant advantage is the level of control DD brokers have over the trading environment. Acting as market makers, they create a more predictable and stable environment, appealing to traders who favor consistency and reliability in their trading activities. This control is not solely about profit; it’s also about risk management. DD brokers can mitigate adverse market movements by effectively managing the balance of trades within their books or opting for external hedging. Such capabilities are essential for sustaining client retention and building trust, as traders often seek a trading environment that offers stability and dependability.

    Challenges of the DD Model

    One of the most profound challenges for DD brokers lies in the ethical considerations of their operational model. The inherent conflict of interest, where a brokerage’s profits might sometimes align with client losses, demands a high ethical standard and transparent business practices. Maintaining a robust ethical framework is crucial to safeguarding client interests. This extends into relationship management, where establishing trust through transparency and clarity in trade execution and pricing strategies becomes a cornerstone for sustaining client relationships.

    The success of a DD brokerage significantly hinges on its reputation for fairness and operational transparency. It’s imperative for DD brokers to communicate how trades are executed clearly and how prices are set, fostering an environment of trust and reliability. This includes addressing common misconceptions about price manipulation or trading against clients, which can be prevalent in the industry. Demonstrating transparency in operations helps build a loyal client base and plays a critical role in maintaining a reputable and trustworthy business image.

    Moreover, regulatory compliance forms a critical aspect of the DD brokerage model. Adhering to stringent regulations ensures fair trading practices, which is not just a legal imperative but a key element in establishing credibility in the Forex market. Staying updated with regulatory changes and adapting business practices accordingly is essential to avoid legal issues and sustain a compliant and respected business.

    The No-Dealing Desk Model

    The No-Dealing Desk (NDD) model represents a pivotal shift from the traditional Dealing Desk approach, offering a distinct trading environment and operational methodology. Understanding this model’s nuances is essential for aspiring brokers and traders, as it encompasses a range of factors from market access to technological requirements.

    Understanding NDD Functionality

    The NDD approach transforms from the traditional Dealing Desk model. Central to its functionality is providing traders with direct access to the interbank market, a vast network of banks and financial institutions that are the lifeblood of liquidity in Forex markets. This direct access significantly changes the trading landscape. Unlike the DD model, where the broker acts as a market maker, setting prices and managing trades, the NDD model sees the broker as a facilitator, connecting traders to a larger pool of liquidity providers. Here, the brokerage no longer stands as the intermediary in trade transactions but instead links traders to the dynamic and fluid world of the interbank market.

    In the NDD setup, price determination shifts from the brokerage to the interbank market. Prices are no longer set by a single entity but are influenced by many financial institutions, reflecting real-time market conditions. This setup offers traders a more direct and transparent window into the Forex market, providing a trading environment that mirrors the market’s natural movements and rhythms.

    Transparency and Market Influence

    A key characteristic of the NDD model is its heightened level of transparency. In this environment, price movements and spreads are a direct result of market dynamics, not shaped or manipulated by a broker. This transparency is pivotal in attracting traders who value a trading experience that closely aligns with the fundamental principles of supply and demand. The competitive nature of the interbank market often results in tighter spreads and more favorable pricing for traders, enhancing their potential for profitability.


    Direct market access is another cornerstone of the NDD model, allowing traders to benefit from the best available prices in real time. As trades are executed against quotes from various liquidity providers, traders are exposed to diverse prices, often leading to more advantageous trading conditions. Moreover, the NDD model is known for its rapid order execution. With orders directly placed into the system of liquidity providers, execution speeds are generally faster than those found in the DD model. This swiftness is particularly beneficial for specific trading strategies that rely on quick market entries and exits, such as scalping or high-frequency trading.

    Risk Management in NDD Brokerages

    Effective risk management is a cornerstone for NDD brokerages, ensuring regulatory compliance and long-term sustainability. Since NDD brokers pass most trades directly to liquidity providers, their primary risk management strategy involves carefully selecting and managing these providers, ensuring that they can consistently offer competitive prices and execute trades efficiently. 

    Hedging is another vital tool in the NDD broker’s risk management arsenal. Strategic hedging can mitigate risk in situations of significant exposure – be it due to market volatility or unbalanced client positions. This approach protects the brokerage’s capital and can be a subtle form of profit generation, especially when executed with market acumen. Therefore, while the NDD model’s revenue streams are largely transparent and straightforward, maintaining profitability also hinges on the brokerage’s ability to adeptly navigate the market risks and operational challenges inherent in this model.

    Profit Generation Strategies 

    In the NDD brokerage model, revenue generation is intricately tied to its core operational principles. Unlike DD brokers, who earn primarily from spreads, NDD brokers typically generate income through commission fees. These commissions are usually transparent, fixed charges per trade or a percentage of the trade volume, creating a clear and direct revenue stream that scales with client trading activity. 

    Additionally, NDD brokers can negotiate beneficial terms with multiple liquidity providers, leveraging their trade volume to secure more favorable rates, indirectly enhancing profitability. Beyond transaction-based revenues, NDD brokerages can diversify their income by offering value-added services such as advanced trading platforms, in-depth market analysis, and educational resources. These services, particularly premium versions, provide additional income streams and help cultivate long-term client relationships by offering more than just a trading platform.

    Pros and Cons for Aspiring Brokers

    Advantages of Starting an NDD Brokerage

    Aspiring brokers considering the NDD model will find its strengths in its inherent transparency and market-driven approach.

    One of the most significant advantages of the NDD model is its level of transparency. Since the market directly influences the prices and is not controlled by the broker, there’s a significant reduction in the potential conflict of interest that can be present in the DD model. This transparency is a crucial factor in building trust with clients. In a market where trader confidence is paramount, the ability to offer a trading environment free from broker manipulation can set an NDD brokerage apart and foster long-lasting client relationships.

    NDD brokerages stand out for their ability to offer competitive, market-driven pricing. This is a key selling point, especially for experienced traders who are constantly seeking the best trading conditions. Since the NDD model taps directly into the interbank market, traders are often provided with tighter spreads and more favorable pricing, which can be a major attraction in a highly competitive market.

    Challenges in Running an NDD Brokerage

    However, the NDD model also comes with its challenges, particularly concerning technological requirements and managing variable spreads.

    One of the primary challenges in establishing an NDD brokerage is the need for a robust and sophisticated technological infrastructure. This technology is vital to facilitate real-time connectivity with many liquidity providers. An efficient and reliable system is essential to ensure that traders have uninterrupted access to the best available prices and to maintain the rapid execution speed that is a hallmark of the NDD model. Investing in technology is not just a one-time setup; it requires ongoing maintenance and updates to stay abreast of market and technological advancements.

    Unlike the DD model, where brokers can offer fixed spreads, NDD brokers deal with variable spreads that can fluctuate with market conditions. This variability can be challenging to manage, especially during periods of high market volatility. Brokers must balance offering competitive spreads to attract traders and ensuring that these spreads are sustainable for the brokerage’s profitability. Effective management of variable spreads requires a deep understanding of market dynamics and the agility to adapt to rapid changes in market conditions.


    Understanding the nuances between the Dealing Desk and No-Dealing Desk models is crucial for both prospective brokerage owners and traders. Each model presents unique opportunities and challenges, and the choice hinges on various factors, including market positioning, client needs, and strategic goals. One can establish a successful and reputable trading platform by aligning the brokerage model with these factors. For aspiring brokers and traders alike, an informed decision in this regard is the stepping stone to potential success in the dynamic world of Forex trading.

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