An outright forward contract is a contractual agreement to buy or sell a specified amount of one currency against payment in another currency at a specified date in the future known as the ‘value date’. By contrast, when both parties can exchange the funds before the value date, the forward contract is said to be ‘open’.
Sometimes known as a ‘fixed’ or ‘standard’ contract, the outright forward is the simplest type of forward contract. For this reason, these forwards are widely used by businesses to hedge against the risk of losses due to adverse exchange rate movements. However, hedging with outright forwards makes it impossible to benefit from advantageous exchange rate movements.
Outright forwards also offer no flexibility about the date of settlement. Both parties are legally obliged to exchange the funds on the value date. Businesses that need more flexibility over payment terms may prefer open or ‘flexible’ forward contracts.