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How to Master Currency Exchange for your Business

As a small business owner considering expanding your company internationally, it’s likely that foreign currency exchange rates may be the last thing on your mind. It’s more probable that you’re contemplating other factors, such as how to export or import the highest quality of goods for your business, how much travel you can expect to make that happen, and how to foster excellent relationships with your suppliers. In addition to those important things, keeping the international currency exchange rate in mind can help boost your bottom line.

Keep in mind that your accounting and bookkeeping process for foreign currency will be a slightly different process. Using automated accounting software, will help you get a handle on how to process your small business’ foreign transactions.

Is Forex Trading for My Small Business Really Necessary?

The currency exchange market has always had a high rate of volatility, and volatility has grown in the past few years. Fluctuations in currencies have become the new normal as uncertainty about the social, economic, and political landscape of a number of countries has grown. If you have a robust base currency, or the currency you currently have, when you move your capital offshore or pay for imports, you get more for your money. By keeping an eye on market trends and forex exchange rate movements, you can transfer your money overseas at a lucrative time.

Managing Your Company’s Foreign Currency Transfers

Doing a little due diligence and research by talking to foreign currency exchange providers and traders until you identify one that meets your requirements proves the simplest way to manage your forex transfers. This also helps you make online currency exchange transfers in a cost-effective manner. Some entrepreneurs decide to use their banks international currency transfer services, but currency exchange brokers can typically secure a better exchange rate for your company while simultaneously introducing risk-management strategies.

Moreover, a good broker keeps you informed of the most recent market movements. Some brokers even provide services that banks can’t offer, such as the ability to fix a favourable forex exchange rate for as high as two years before you make a trade. When choosing a path for your small business, consider the frequency and size of the currency transfers you need to conduct plus the manner in which you plan to protect your company from foreign currency risk.

Hedging Your Currency Exchange Risks

You may want to consider using forward contracts, or financial instruments that lock in a previously agreed-upon price over a specified time period. Forward contracts particularly help small businesses such as wine importers that put out prices months before receiving their wine. While you have to pay a commission for the contract, you get peace of mind in return. Furthermore, firms such as the Associated Foreign Exchange usually charge commissions of less than 1% of the forward contract’s transaction price. Locking in a forex exchange rate may limit your upside, it also ensures your business doesn’t lose money on account of movements in the foreign currency market.

Strategies for Protecting Your Business Against Currency Fluctuations

If you do some or most of your business outside of Canada, currency volatility is something to keep in mind. The more international transactions you make, the higher your financial risk. In fact, any time you buy supplies, sell products, or work with manufacturers in other countries, you expose your company to currency fluctuations. But by taking steps to manage that risk, you can reduce the likelihood of potentially disastrous changes to your company’s cash flow.

Understand Your Costs and Revenue

For small businesses like yours, the biggest currency risks happen when your costs are in one currency, and your revenue is in another. This sort of imbalance exposes you to a great deal of financial risk. For example, say your business has a factory in Europe, but you sell products in Canada. If the value of the euro rises suddenly compared to the Canadian dollar, you now have higher costs without an increase in revenue. In this case, you might decide to move manufacturing to Canada to eliminate the currency risk.

How to Mitigate Transaction Risk

Transaction risk happens when you agree on a price with an international party on one day, but you don’t make or receive a payment until a later date. If the exchange rate changes between the two dates, it naturally affects your cash flow. Although these risks usually even out over time, they can have a big impact on your company in the short term, which is particularly dangerous if your small business has a tight budget.

Say you make a deal to export a $100,000 shipment of products to the United States in March, but do not require payment until delivery in June. When you sign the contract, the currency exchange rate is $1 CAD to $1 USD. When you ship in June, the US dollar is stronger, and the exchange rate is $1 CAD to $1.2 USD. You still receive $100,000 USD for the sale, but when you convert it to CAD, the value is now just $83,333 CAD.

To protect your business, you could require payment immediately after the contract is signed. That way, you receive $100,000 USD in March, convert it at the 1:1 exchange rate, and have $100,000 CAD in the bank.

Or, you could allow payment on delivery, but quote your price in CAD rather than USD. This strategy transfers the currency fluctuation risk to the US buyer, and you receive the same amount of CAD regardless of the market.

Hedging With Forward Contracts

When you make investments that help offset your currency risk, this is called hedging. A hedge is like an insurance policy because it fills in the gaps in currency fluctuations. For small businesses, forward contracts are one possible hedging option. A forward contract is an agreement between you and your bank to buy foreign currency in the future at a set exchange rate.

Imagine you agree to buy a machine from China at a price of 500,000 yuan, payable upon delivery in six months. At that point, you could go to your bank and enter into a forward agreement to purchase 500,000 yuan in six months at the current exchange rate. That way, your costs are fixed, and you don’t need to worry about changes to the exchange rate.

It’s important to note that hedging comes with drawbacks. The currency rate could change in your favour during the forward contract and then you would lose out on the potential savings. What’s more, if the Chinese manufacturer fails to deliver your order, you’re still required to purchase the 500,000 yuan from the bank.

Depending on the way your small business is structured, you may use one or many of these strategies to protect your company from currency fluctuations. By anticipating potential risks and adjusting your financial practices as needed, you can operate internationally and maintain a stable cash flow.

Paying attention to what’s going on in the countries with which you do business can help you improve your chances for success. While you can do this on your own, finding a compatible currency exchange broker can save you both time and money, and QuickBooks Online can help you keep track of each transaction. 5.6 million customers use QuickBooks. Join them today for free to help your business thrive.

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