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How To Adjust Pricing Over Time To Reduce The Costs Of Hedging

Discover essential FX hedging strategies and currency management best practices from our foreign exchange experts.

How To Adjust Pricing Over Time To Reduce The Costs Of Hedging

22 March 2022
3 min read
Agustin Mackinlay

This article was written by François Masquelier, and has been reposted with permission. It was originally published on his LinkedIn blog on the 8th of March 2022. You can find it here.

Faced with volatile markets and fluctuating currencies with high interest rates, who hasn’t dreamed of being able to save the swap points that deteriorate the forward price? As Sun Tzu said: “The success of any operation lies in its preparation”. And preparation is the implementation of tools adapted to the strategy that can guarantee the agility of the reaction.

For FX management, a process that remains too manual, even in MNCs, adding the missing IT piece is the key to efficiency. By adopting dynamic management, one can gain competitive advantages over competitors in pricing and price protection, especially for the most exotic currencies.

Why make your FX management (more) dynamic?

To have truly dynamic FX management, you first need an appropriate and automated IT tool. Indeed, it is impossible to set up such an efficient manual system even for a single exposure. This is why few treasurers resort to such a strategy. The idea of tools such as Currency Management Automation solution, a necessary complement to T(R)MS’s, to make hedging processes more fluid, efficient, fast, and secure and to create opportunities, if possible, as with the “dynamic” strategies we intend to describe.

Whatever your approach to currency risk (i.e., layering, static or micro-hedging or multi-strategies), the key is to automate the process of hedging the financial world 24/7 and protect positions no matter what. Volatility is indeed one of the after-effects of the recent COVID-19 or more recently of the (risk of) wars. Taking advantage of a monitoring tool allows you not to hedge while controlling your risk and your position and finally being able to act just in case. The “just in case” approach is vital in these times. The so-called dynamic management will only cover the pre-trade and trade part of the process.

Currency Management Automation solutions, the perfect complement to a TMS for FX hedging purposes

Currency Management Automation solutions are a perfect complement to any TMS, as they cover functionalities that these TMSs do not cover or, at best, do not cover 100%. We could compare this to a car. You told your CFO you bought a new car (i.e., a TMS) and claimed it is the best solution to solve your treasury issues. However, after a while, you realize the car is not perfect and does not cover all your needs. Therefore, you decide to add options (i.e., CMA) to complement the engine, get better performances in line with your expectations, and cover 100% of your needs.

The problem with TMSs these days is their SaaS multi-tenant approach, making them rather generic, a sort of “prêt-à-porter” solution not fully perfect and fit. It explains why they may require additional tools to cover the whole spectrum of functionalities around FX all treasurers need. To give you examples, TMS, in general, lacks strong FX rate feeders. A good Currency Management Automation solution should allow treasury teams, among many other things, to set up an efficient data-driven solution to manage all the aspects of pricing with FX rates, including pricing risk.

Dynamic pricing

To set up an efficient FX risk management process, the treasurer needs to manage pricing risk in terms of pricing efficiency and speed of delivering data. Treasurers must understand pricing to design an effective automated FX management process. When you have a dynamic FX price fixing, you can adjust it. Pricing risk is the risk that —between the moment an FX-driven price is set, and the moment it is updated— shifts in FX markets can impact either a firm’s competitive position or its profit margins. To mitigate risks, the treasury team must increase the frequency of pricing updates.

For companies keeping pricing during the whole season, budget period or campaign, the re-fixing of pricing is less of an issue. However, time is the most important issue for all companies when underlying risks are identified by business operations and reported to Treasury. The faster and more straight the data is conducted to the in-house bank, the smaller the delta will be.

Dynamic hedging, what it is and it is not

When we talk about “Dynamic Hedging”, some people refer to the strategy of hedging in those periods when existing currency positions are expected to be adversely affected and remaining un-hedged in other periods when currency positions are expected to be favourably affected. It is also a strategy that involves rebalancing hedge positions as market conditions change, a strategy that seeks to ensure the value of a portfolio using a synthetic put option. However, here we prefer to opt for another acceptance in treasury. For Currency Management Automation solutions, it may mean that the company, in order not to be penalized by the huge differential of interest and negative swap points (depending on if you sell or buy the exotic currency), decide to opt for a more dynamic approach with a daily limit refixing to get the benefit of time passing (and therefore reduce costs of hedging) while fixing purchase order (i.e., security boundaries). It means that each day we are within the boundaries and in the range, and no hedging is made. Every day it is refixed and adjusted if needed to benefit from time reduction (i.e., less swap point impacts) and potentially enjoy a better hedging rate. In FX hedging, time can have a cost, and it is what we need to control without necessarily hedging at inception. Providing you have an automated tool in place, you can guarantee the risk is under control and potentially get the benefit of time passing.

Value creation through better FX management

Dynamic hedging is key to benefitting from extra time and fighting against swap points penalties. These days, the cost of hedging is already increasing over time (for many different reasons but mainly accounting and regulatory reasons) and huge differential of interest may penalize companies and prevent doing some business. Failure to take advantage of this type of opportunity is a serious shortcoming in terms of pricing strategies when —according to consultants — pricing is becoming a key strategic element in today’s competitive landscape.It is even more essential for low-margin and high-volume businesses. Arbitrary time-driven rules (well-defined) should give way to a data-driven approach that sets boundaries around an FX reference rate, such that prices are updated only if the market moves beyond the upper and lower bounds of those boundaries. The system then serves a new reference rate and dynamically adjusts the upper and lower bands around it.These approaches enable treasurers to take advantage of favourable moves in currency markets while protecting budgeted profit margins, independent of when movements (if any) occur. Determining boundaries far or close to the reference rate set reflects the treasurers’ tolerance/appetite for FX risk.The beauty of automated systems is the capacity to select the currency pairs to be dynamically monitored, the boundaries, the amount, the timeframe, etc. and it can be adjusted based on circumstances. In a fast-changing world, highly competitive, the refining of FX rates for hedging may give the corporation a competitive advantage over peers. Don’t miss opportunities to better and more efficiently manage FX risks.

François Masquelier, CEO of Simply Treasury – March 2022

Disclaimer: This article was prepared by François Masquelier in his personal capacity. The opinion expressed in this article is the author’s own and does not necessarily reflect the view of the European Association of Corporate Treasurers (i.e., EACT).

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Agustin Mackinlay
Agustin Mackinlay is a Financial Writer at Kantox. He has previously worked at an investment bank specialising in Emerging Markets. Agustin teaches several courses in Finance at LaSalle University and EAE Business School in Barcelona. He holds degrees from the University of Amsterdam and from the Kiel Institute of World Economics in Germany.
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