Stocks 202: Lesson 3 of 5

In the world of stock trading, investors and traders have options beyond traditional physical stock ownership. One of these alternatives is trading Contracts for Difference (CFDs), which offer distinct advantages and differences compared to trading physical stocks. In this lesson, we will explore the key differences between trading physical stocks and trading stock CFDs. 

Trading Physical Stocks and Trading Stock CFDs

  • Ownership vs. Contracts
  • Leverage
  • Short Selling
  • Dividends and Corporate Actions
  • Market Access

Ownership vs. Contracts

When you buy physical stocks, you become a shareholder and own a portion of the company. In contrast, trading stock CFDs does not grant ownership. Instead, you enter into a contract with a broker that mirrors the price movement of the underlying stock.


Stock CFDs often provide the option for leverage, allowing traders to control a more substantial position with a smaller initial capital outlay. While leverage can amplify profits, it also increases the potential for losses. Trading physical stocks typically does not involve leverage. 

Short Selling

Stock CFDs enable traders to profit from both rising and falling markets by going long (buying) or going short (selling) without owning the actual stock. In contrast, short selling physical stocks can involve borrowing shares and potentially incurring additional costs.

Dividends and Corporate Actions

Investors primarily seek wealth accumulation, long-term financial goals, and retirement planning. They often prioritize stable, dividend-paying stocks. Traders aim for shorter-term gains, and their goals may include daily or weekly income generation. Their portfolios may consist of stocks with higher volatility and liquidity.

Investors often employ fundamental analysis, studying financial statements, industry trends, and economic factors. Traders rely heavily on technical analysis, focusing on price charts, indicators, and patterns. They may also use quantitative models for algorithmic trading. 

Market Access

Stock CFDs provide access to a broader range of global stocks, including those listed on international exchanges. Physical stock trading may be limited to your local exchange or the stocks your broker offers.

Applying Your Knowledge:

The choice between trading physical stocks and stock CFDs depends on your trading style, objectives, risk tolerance, and the markets you wish to access. Each approach has its advantages and considerations. Understanding these differences is essential for making informed decisions in your stock trading journey. 

What’s Next?

Congratulations on completing Lesson 3 of 5! But don’t stop now—there’s so much more to learn.

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