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  • Writer's pictureDonnelle Brooks

Contract for Difference: What does it mean?

In today's complex financial world, traders and investors often encounter a myriad of instruments and tools. One such versatile financial instrument is the Contract for Difference (CFD). CFDs have gained immense popularity over the years due to their unique characteristics, offering traders and investors an opportunity to speculate on various underlying assets. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of CFDs, explaining what they are and how they work.

What is a Contract for Difference (CFD)?

A Contract for Difference, commonly referred to as a CFD, is a financial derivative instrument that allows investors to speculate on the price movements of various underlying assets without actually owning the asset itself. CFDs enable traders to profit from the price fluctuations of assets such as stocks, indices, commodities, and currencies.

How Do Contracts For Difference Work?

The fundamental principle behind CFDs is relatively straightforward. When a trader opens a CFD position, they are essentially entering into an agreement with a broker. The trader agrees to exchange the difference in the price of the underlying asset between the time the contract is opened and when it is closed. If the asset's price increases, the trader will profit, and if it decreases, they will incur a loss.

Key Characteristics of CFDs

1. Leverage: One of the most attractive aspects of CFD trading is the availability of leverage. Leverage allows traders to control a more substantial position size with a relatively small initial investment. However, it's crucial to note that leverage can magnify both profits and losses, making risk management essential.

2. Diverse Asset Classes: CFDs offer access to a wide range of underlying assets, including equities, indices, commodities, currencies, and cryptocurrencies. This diversity enables traders to create a well-rounded portfolio.

3. No Ownership: When trading CFDs, you don't own the underlying asset. You are merely speculating on its price movement. This has certain advantages, such as not having to worry about storage or ownership costs.

4. Short and Long Positions: CFDs allow traders to profit from both rising and falling markets. Going long means buying a CFD with the expectation that the underlying asset's price will rise, while going short involves selling a CFD with the expectation that the price will fall.

5. Hedging: CFDs can also be used for hedging purposes. For instance, if you own a portfolio of physical shares and are concerned about a potential market downturn, you can open short CFD positions to offset potential losses in your stock portfolio.

Benefits of Trading CFDs

1. Liquidity: CFD markets are highly liquid, allowing for ease of entry and exit from positions.

2. Flexibility: CFD trading offers flexibility in terms of asset selection, position size, and trading strategies.

3. Accessibility: CFD trading platforms are easily accessible, and you can trade CFDs on various devices, including desktop computers and mobile devices.

4. Lower Costs: CFD trading typically involves lower transaction costs and no stamp duty, making it cost-effective compared to traditional stock trading.

Where can I buy CFDs in Australia?

In Australia, you can buy and trade CFDs (Contracts for Difference) through licensed and regulated financial brokers and trading platforms. Here are some of the popular and well-established CFD brokers where you can buy CFDs:

IG Markets

IG is one of the largest and most well-known CFD providers in Australia. They offer a wide range of CFD products, including equities, indices, commodities, and currencies. They are regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

CMC Markets

CMC Markets is another reputable CFD broker in Australia. They provide access to a broad range of CFDs and offer a user-friendly trading platform. CMC Markets is also regulated by ASIC.


Plus500 is a popular CFD broker with a user-friendly platform that offers a variety of CFD products. They are regulated by ASIC and provide a free demo account for beginners to practice trading.


While Pepperstone is primarily known for its forex trading services, they also offer CFDs on indices and commodities. They are regulated by ASIC and are a well-regarded broker in the industry.

Saxo Capital Markets

Saxo Capital Markets provides CFD trading services in addition to other investment products. They are regulated by ASIC and offer access to a wide range of global markets.

FP Markets

FP Markets is an Australian CFD broker that offers various financial instruments, including CFDs on indices, commodities, and equities. They are regulated by ASIC and have won awards for their services.

When choosing a CFD broker in Australia, it's important to consider factors like regulatory compliance, trading platforms, fees and spreads, customer support, and the range of CFD products they offer. Additionally, make sure to conduct thorough research, read customer reviews, and understand the terms and conditions before opening a trading account with any broker.

Always be aware of the risks associated with CFD trading, as it involves leverage and the potential for significant losses. It's advisable to have a clear trading strategy and risk management plan in place before trading CFDs in the Australian market.


Contract for Difference (CFD) is a versatile financial instrument that provides traders and investors with an opportunity to profit from the price fluctuations of various underlying assets without owning them. With its unique characteristics, including leverage, diverse asset classes, and the ability to go long or short, CFDs have become a popular choice for those seeking exposure to the financial markets. However, it's important to approach CFD trading with caution, as it carries inherent risks due to the potential for amplified losses. Always conduct thorough research and consider your risk tolerance before engaging in CFD trading.

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