IG Group is a UK-based company providing stockbroking and trading in financial derivatives such as contracts for difference and financial spread betting to retail traders.
While the majority of the company's activities are based in the UK, the company has expanded internationally. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.
The company was founded in 1974 by Stuart Wheeler as a spread betting business under the name IG Index (an abbreviation for Investors Gold Index). It was the UK’s first financial spread betting business, enabling individuals to trade the price of gold as an index rather than buying and selling the commodity itself.
In 1982, it expanded its range of markets by offering spread bets on the FT30 stock index and in 1985 became the first UK company to allow spread betting on individual shares.
In July 2000, shares in the newly named IG Group plc were first listed on the London Stock Exchange.
The group’s listing on the London Stock Exchange was cancelled on 7 November 2003, following a £143 million management buyout backed by venture capitalists CVC Capital Partners Ltd which valued the company at £143 million. In April 2005, the company re-floated on the main list of the London Stock Exchange, as IG Group Holdings plc, with a valuation of £393 million.
In July 2002, IG commenced trading in Australia after a change in the country's financial services legislation made it possible to offer Contracts for Difference to Australian residents.
In 2006, it expanded into Germany and Singapore, and in 2007 opened offices in the US, Spain and France. In 2008 it opened an office in Italy and bought FXOnline, a financial derivatives provider in Japan. 2009 saw it launch operations in Sweden and Luxembourg, with offices in Portugal and Netherlands following in 2010 and 2011. In 2010 it also acquired the Ideal CFDs business in South Africa and in 2014 it secured a licence to commence operations in Switzerland as IG Bank SA.
In October 2008, IG acquired fxonline, a Japanese retail FX business.
Rebranding as IG
In 2012 the company consolidated its IG Index and IG Markets businesses under a single brand, IG, with the stated aim of becoming the default choice for active traders around the world. This followed the closure of its sports betting service Extrabet in June 2011.
Products and services
Leveraged and binary trading
Financial spread betting (in the UK and Ireland only)
Having already offered vanilla options spread betting and CFD trading for some years, IG added binary option betting to its range of products in 2003.
In April 2013, IG was the first online forex and CFD broker to launch bitcoin trading, but ceased offering its bitcoin binary options product a month later.
In November 2014, it re-introduced bitcoin binary spread betting and CFD products to its platform, allowing traders to speculate on bitcoin volatility without actually owning bitcoin itself. It has since added a number of bitcoin forex pairs.
In September 2014, IG expanded into stockbroking with the launch of a web-based share trading service. The company claims that existing online brokers are ‘basic and opaque’ and that it has ‘far more sophisticated technology and a far more sophisticated offering than is available from incumbent stockbrokers’. It is developing plans to offer the service in other countries from 2015.
In 1998, IG was the first firm to introduce an online dealing platform for financial spread betting. It went on to launch its first browser-based dealing platform, known back then as PureDeal, in 2007. Two years later it launched a browser-based direct market access (DMA) platform.
In 2010 IG launched its first iPhone dealing app.
The company also partners with third-party providers such as MetaTrader 4, ProRealTime, Autochartist, Trading Central and InvestYourWay.
IG has clients in over 140 countries, with offices in London, Dublin, Oslo, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Düsseldorf, Luxembourg, Geneva, Chicago, Madrid, Paris, Milan, Johannesburg, Singapore, Tokyo and Melbourne.
IG Bank, Switzerland
In October 2014, following a successful application for a FINMA licence, IG opened an office in Geneva, launching its Swiss operation, IG Bank SA.
In July 2014, IG’s chief executive, Tim Howkins, announced that the company was having ‘constructive discussions with regulators’ about the possibility of opening an office in the Dubai International Financial Centre in 2015.
In 2007, the company purchased US-based online derivatives firm HedgeStreet, renaming it as the North American Derivatives Exchange (NADEX) in 2009. This gave IG a platform to develop simplified derivatives contracts for retail traders in the US, where contracts for difference and financial spread betting are currently not legal. Nadex is based in Chicago and subject to regulatory oversight by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
In the UK, IG is a principal partner of Harlequins RFC and is the main sponsor of the club’s annual Big Game event at Twickenham stadium.
IG operates a staff volunteering scheme with Beanstalk, a charity that gives one-to-one literacy support to children in primary schools in the most deprived areas of England.
It is also a member of City Action, a partnership scheme which enables City-based businesses to share skills with local community organisations and social enterprises through voluntary work.
IG are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK under register number 114059 for IG Index and 195355 for IG Markets. It is also regulated by the Gambling Commission.
Under a passport arrangement, IG’s European businesses with the exception of Switzerland are regulated by the FCA under IG Markets’ registration. IG Bank S.A. is authorised and regulated by FINMA in Switzerland.
Other key bodies regulating IG are:
Australia - the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)
Singapore - the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
Japan – the Financial Services Agency
South Africa – The Financial Services Board
USA – Commodity Futures Trading Commission