Some people like to play with their money, and some people like to play more seriously than others. Different folks, different strokes, we’re not here to judge – as long as everyone pays their taxes and generally behaves in an ethical manner.
Ordinarily we would not spend a lot of time talking about gambling, but Financial Spread Betting (FSB) is not your everyday gamble. In fact, it’s one part gamble, one part investment. On that basis, we thought it was worth bringing to your attention; that and the fact that it is weirdly quite fascinating.
What is FSB? In a nutshell, it’s a way to bet on the stock market. At its simplest, you pick a stock or a currency and you place a bet on whether you think it might rise or fall. If it goes the way you’ve predicted, you win. If it doesn’t, you lose. Simple!
Obviously, it is possible to research different markets and the businesses whose shares trade on them in a way that is far more rigorous and scientific than an ordinary bet. The trades that you and I might make are essentially the same as someone on Wall Street or the London Stock Exchange. The big difference, though, is that whilst Mr Wall Street might be trading in tens of millions we can do it for just a few pounds.
What is more, with no dealing fees, commissions or taxes to pay there is no cost to entry. All it takes is an internet connection and a few pounds to put down as a deposit. In fact, there are even demonstration accounts that you can open up for free that give you the full experience of being a trader without having to part with a penny. The demonstrations are designed as a taster and as a way to get up to speed before you start playing for real. But in a world that is quite complex it is no bad thing to start out slowly and carefully anyway.
The way it works is that you have a fully-interactive dealing screen. You see share prices flicking up and down in real time – they are the actual real-life market prices – and, with a notional balance in your virtual account, you decide what to invest in and how much to put down. There are historical charts and all sorts of analytical aids helping to inform your decisions.
From that point on it’s a roller coaster ride of ups and downs as you see your winnings turn into losses and flip back into winnings again in the blink of an eye. If it’s exciting to play for pretend cash, imagine what the buzz is like when you’re looking at turning a £5 stake into £100. It’s the ultimate video game for finance geeks.
Some people have made fortunes with FSB, but others have lost big, too. We’re certainly not advocating it as a lifestyle. But as a way to play, and a deeply engaging way to play for a real profit, it is definitely worth looking at.