Cash Management - An Overview
focuses on seeking to obtain returns by managing the risk of changes
to foreign exchange (FX) rates. Foreign exchange risk occurs when ever
a fund manager is holding assets denominated in a currency other than
the funds base currency. These assets returns can be viewed
as being derived from two sources: firstly from changes to the prices
of the asset in local currency terms and secondly, from change to the
level of the currency. If manager are concerned about the immediate
prospect for the currency, they may well hedge their foreign exchange
exposure, while leaving the underlying asset holding in place.
The management of currency risk differs from other asset management activities in the following ways. Firstly currency exposure is derived from holding in other assets (equities, bonds, property cash etc). For currency management purpose, exposures from all of these asset classes are grouped together by currency as in the table opposite. The fund manager will compare this summarized position with the current house view on prospects for each currency and, in some instances, with a specific currency exposure bench mark. If he wishes to change his position, he will move the fund in to line with his desired currency position through purchasing or selling forward foreign exchange contracts. These are commitment to buy or sell a pair of currencies (e.g. buy US dollar, sell sterling ) at a pre agreed exchange rate at an agreed time in the future. The effect of these contracts is that, for the period of time that the contracts are in place, the fund manger will have increased his exposure to one currency and reduced his exposure to the other .
Currency management is often referred to a s on overlay management process, i.e. overlayingunderlying security positions with forward FX contracts to achieve a desired net currency exposure. A significant factor is the relative ease with which fund manager can change their currency positions. FX Markets are highly liquid, particularly for major currencies, making it very easy to make huge changes to exposures. There is an interesting trade off when looking at fixed interest funds. If interest rates rise, in for example, Japan, The normal effect will be that bonds fall in value, but at the same time they yen will appreciate. Thus for a sterling based funds the interesting metric is the net effect of these two influence on the value of the fund.
FX Rate are quoted as either spot (generally setting in two days from the trade being struck ) or forward ( generally setting any time up to one year from trade date). It is the current spot rate that is used to calculate the current value of holding denominated in currencies other than the fund base currency, whilst forwards rates are those for agreeing now to exchange an amount of one currency for another at a point in the future , essentially looking the fund in to the current market exchange rate . FX rates usually move in the same direction as the currencys relevant domestic interest rate (i.e., US domestic interest rates for US dollars, Japanese rates for yen etc.. The close relationship between foreign exchange levels and relative interest rate (i.e., the difference between domestic interest rates pertaining to different currencies) is explained by the covered interest arbitrage theory. This theory also enables rates and interest rate differentials. Covered interest arbitrage is outlined in..
FX rates are generally quoted in terms of the US dollar which acts as the global financial worlds reference currency. Cross rates are also quoted between most major currencies. e.g. Sterling/ yen , euro /yen etc/ The market is dominated by the major currencies , which are the US dollar, Yen and Euro .The main new development in recent year is the hugely ambitious euro project. An overview of the implication of this project is contained in.
For the purpose of making allocations and controlling risk, currencies are generally grouped in to blocs, these being groups of currencies with high correlations of volatility of returns . An example hierarchy might be as in the diagram opposite. This hierarchy would be established by currency analysts, who would identify patterns of co- movements amongst currencies. The portfolio manager would seek to diversify his currency risk across these currency blocs as far as possible, for the same reasons that he will seek to diversify the holding underlying the currency risks that is to achieve superior risk adjusted returns.
Dealing and Administration
As mentioned above, currency management is carried out by means of forwards FX trades. These are generally carried out in pairs of currencies (e.g. buy sterling forwards, sell Japanese yen forwards) simultaneously bought and sold forwards to the same date for a pre agreed amount. It is obviously important that these positions are maintained (if required) by the fund manager. Depending upon whether the funds manager has made a profits or loss on the FX trade, he may need to top up the FX positions at this rollover point out of cash.
The forwards FX
contract obliges the fund manager to deliver a pre set amount of the
sold currency (US$ 32,500,000 in our earlier example) and to receive
in exchange a pre set of the bought currency (20, 000, 0000.
in order to do this, the fund manager will need to ensure that he will
be able to transfer the sold currency on the maturity date. he needs
to generate two spot FX deals was struck in our example) in order to
ensure that settlement can take place.
The Series of trades / actions will, therefore, be as follows:
Buy / Receive
|Six Month Forwards FX Trade