Level 2 provides you with full viewing of the order book in real-time on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and provides insights in how you can get better pricing using direct market access (DMA). Level 2 also shows us the market depth and the liquidity available for the security.
All-in-all, Level 2 trading can give active traders and investors an advantage in their trading accounts when buying and selling. However, in order to find the best Level 2 trading platform you need to try each of them. This is both time-consuming and expensive.
In this article, I will highlight the best Level 2 trading platforms in the UK based on my testing and many years of experience. I have used all of the Level 2 platforms listed at some point in my trading career and will review the pros and cons associated with each Level 2 provider.
Let’s get started with a quick overview of the platforms we’ll be looking into…
The 5 best Level 2 trading platforms in the UK
- SharePad (Best overall Level 2 trading platform)
- ShareScope (Best Level 2 trading platform for professional traders)
- IG L2 Dealer (Best Level 2 trading platform for cheap live prices)
- London South East
Best overall Level 2 trading platform
I have given SharePad the title of ‘Best overall Level 2 trading platform’ as this is the best platform for most users of Level 2 data, primarily because it is the most reliable platform and also the best in terms of value.
SharePad Pro is a browser-based trading platform that offers a huge suite of analytical tools as well as extensive technical analysis features. In addition to Level 2, SharePad offers intraday and daily charting software so we can see the current share price and the market depth.
SharePad includes all UK stocks, US and European stocks, as well as global market indices, commodities, bonds, forex, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies and can be used on both Windows and Apple products, as well as tablets and mobile phones.
SharePad Pro also comes with the professional helpline that I suggested the company put in place. This means that from 07:00 there will be a person available to speak to should SharePad Pro users have urgent help requirements.
Pros of SharePad for Level 2
- Ability to set up several windows in one browser (up to 9 Level 2 screens)
- Customisation to get the information that matters to you
- SharePad is a product designed for traders and doesn’t offer advertising
- Browser-based so easy to quickly check the order book and market depth
Cons of SharePad for Level 2
- Browser-based so unable to run Level 2 screens in other monitors
Why choose SharePad
SharePad is the best value for money Level 2 provider because alongside Level 2 it also offers live prices and intraday charting. It also offers the ability to create watchlists, set alerts and alarms, as well as customise your Level 2 windows.
SharePad Pro isn’t the cheapest Level 2 provider but it’s far from the most expensive.
Part-time traders and those who want the best bang for their buck should consider a free trial of SharePad’s Level 2 service (button below).
Best Level 2 trading platform for professional traders
I have given ShareScope the title of ‘Best Level 2 trading platform for professional traders’ as this is the best platform for those who trade on a full-time basis and who can make use of the advanced features in the product.
ShareScope is a downloadable Windows program that is customisable, which provides the benefit of being able to adjust the platform to our own trading screens and setup. It is more advanced compared to SharePad and offers full customisation and scripts.
This means you can run the product across several monitors and float Level 2 screens and charts to suit your trading setup.
One major advantage of ShareScope over other Level 2 providers is that you can have multi-window functionality and link windows.
For example, as well as a Level 2 screen you can instantly see the stock’s 1-minute chart and daily chart too. If you click a window and type in a new stock, all three windows (Level 2, intraday chart, daily chart) will change simultaneously.
ShareScope has been voted ‘Best Investment Data Provider’ 2019, as voted for by Financial Times/Investors Chronicle readers on its website.
ShareScope Pro is very similar to the ShareScope Alpha Terminal, which is used by many UK market makers and brokers, as well as fund and investment managers.
I use ShareScope because it allows me to quickly get the information I need effectively in order to trade the UK stock market by viewing Level 2 orderbooks and intraday charts.
ShareScope Pro (like SharePad Pro) comes with the professional helpline that I suggested the company put in place. This means that from 07:00 there will be a person available to speak to should ShareScope Pro users have urgent help requirements.
Pros of ShareScope for Level 2
- Ability to float windows across several monitors and windows
- Much more than a Level 2 provider – advanced charting available too
- Increased customisation along with ShareScript which allows coding
- ShareScope is a product designed for traders and doesn’t offer advertising
Cons of ShareScope for Level 2
- Higher cost. At £120 a month this should only be used by traders who will take full advantage of what ShareScope has to offer
Why choose ShareScope
ShareScope is the best product for your Level 2 provider because of all the extra it includes. I am able to set alerts on stocks, run scripts, and float windows across my monitors. For serious traders it allows them to build custom filters and alarms, as well as customise your Level 2 windows.
ShareScope is the most expensive Level 2 provider so should only be used by those who are serious and who will make the most of ShareScope’s extra features in their trading.
Best Level 2 trading platform for cheap live prices
IG is a brokerage that offers the L2 Dealer platform. This is an execution platform that allows us to make use of direct market access and a wide range of available order types. It also offers live prices and a Level 2 service although this is clunky and the platform’s interface is not user friendly.
However, L2 Dealer is the best trading platform for dealing directly in the market and for those who trade CFDs as well as stocks. For short-term traders, it is essential.
In order to access IG’s L2 dealer as well as it’s trading app, you will need to either open an ISA account or a CFD account and fund it…
Pros of L2 Dealer for Level 2
- At £7.20 per month L2 Dealer is the cheapest option for live prices
Cons of L2 Dealer for Level 2
- L2 Dealer’s Level 2 is clunky and does not show a huge range of recent trades, meaning it is difficult to read the tape
Why choose L2 Dealer for Level 2
I don’t believe L2 Dealer is good enough to use for Level 2, however, if you literally just want live prices and nothing else then this is the cheapest option for this information.
That said, L2 Dealer is an excellent execution platform as it offers the opportunity to execute market orders, limit orders, stop limit/stop market orders, as well as iceberg orders.
L2 Dealer is free to download and the only requirement is that you need to have a funded IG account in order to pay for the £7.20 monthly data fee as well as trading funds.
London South East Level 2
London South East is a UK-focused stock market company that offers both free and premium bulletin boards to discuss stocks. It also offers advertising packages for companies wishing to attract the attention of retail investors.
Bulletin boards are popular in the UK to discuss shares, however these are unmoderated and are often abused by those with agendas to push.
Some users are paid by companies to promote positivity and others have various accounts that they use in order to converse with themselves to make it seem like there is a lot of interest in a share.
Bulletin boards are generally best avoided as anyone well-researched is drowned out by rampers (people who pump stocks) and those who don’t accept any negative criticisms of their stock. Bulletin boards are echo chambers and one big waste of time.
London South East does have a Level 2 offering although this is unreliable and sometimes down. It is competitively priced but does not include all exchanges.
Pros of London South East Level 2
- Competitively priced at £23.99 a month
Cons of London South East Level 2
- Few additional features for charting
ADVFN Level 2
ADVFN is similar to London South East as it is a UK-focused stock market company that offers both free and premium bulletin boards to discuss stocks. There are also paid-for newsletters. It also offers advertising packages again for companies wishing to attract the attention of private investors.
Pros of ADVFN Level 2
- ADVFN has tabs where the Level 2 window can be changed to a different stock in the same browser
- Has basic charting included
Cons of ADVFN Level 2
- Relatively expensive at £58.08 for a Level 2 service
Choosing your Level 2 provider
Level 2 is a crucial service for traders to view the order book and see where the market makers are positioning themselves.
It is essential for traders who wish to use direct market access for share dealing and those who want to see live trades and read the prints.
For CFD trading, we are able to use Level 2 to place limit orders, as well as orders for the market price. We can also put our stock for sale as a sell order on the offer price using direct market access.
However, this is available only on the SETS trading platform which is available for all FTSE stocks on the LSE as well as some AIM shares.
PRO TIP: Before trading CFDs, you should try a demo account. CFD trading is high risk and always ensure you sign up with a stock broker regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
You should choose the product that is most suitable for your needs and within your price range as these can vary. If you’re going to be spread betting UK shares, then trading tools such as Level 2 are a huge benefit.
I personally use ShareScope for my Level 2 and recommend both SharePad Pro and ShareScope Pro.