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CFO Perspectives: 3 ways CFOs can use currencies to boost their business’s value

05-07-2022 | treasuryXL | Kantox | LinkedIn |

As a CFO, you are aware of the benefits of FX hedging for treasury. However, are you also aware of the macro-level advantages for your company and its value?

A new CurrencyCast series has just been introduced by Kantox. They examine five ways that efficient currency management may benefit your entire business in the first episode of their CFO Edition miniseries, including how to incorporate it into your strategy and how to decrease cash flow fluctuation. Watch below the video or read the corresponding blog.

Credits: Kantox
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In the first edition of CFO Perspectives, we’ll draw from our work with CFOs to explore three ways senior finance executives can make currency management a winning growth and cost-saving strategy for their business.

Looking at the concerns expressed by CFOs in most risk management surveys, a number of familiar themes seem to reoccur: the importance of cash flow forecasting and monitoring, the centrality of FX risk management and the ongoing digitisation of treasury processes

Yet, this picture is far from complete. 

Ultimately, among the tasks assigned to CFOs, there is the need to make a contribution toward enhancing the value of the business. But what is the role —if any— played by currency management in that regard? Answering this question allows us to single out three strategic contributions of currency management that CFOs should prioritise.

Value and FX hedging: time for a reassessment

Does currency management create value? The traditional view has been ambivalent: a ‘glass half full, half empty’ kind of appraisal. While the benefits of hedging FX have never been in dispute, the problem lies with the perceived high costs of currency management.

This is precisely where things are changing—and quite fast. Digital, API-based technology is putting to rest the notion that currency management is always a costly, resource-intensive task. Meanwhile, Multi-Dealer Platforms (MDPs) such as 360T, embedded in these solutions, sharply reduce trading costs.

CFOs: three strategic contributions of currency management

(1) Create opportunities for growth

Feeling concerned about exchange rate risk, managers may neglect the growth opportunities that come from ‘embracing currencies’. Buying and selling in more currencies allow firms to capture FX markups on the selling side while avoiding markups on the contracting side. Two examples will suffice:

(a) On the selling side: In e-commerce setups, currencies can be leveraged to increase direct, high-margin sales on company websites with many payment methods. Multi-currency pricing is the secret weapon for reducing cart abandonment, which still stands at about 77% globally.

(b) On the buying side: Buying in the currency of their suppliers allows firms to (1) Avoid inflated prices charged by suppliers who seek to manage their own FX risk; (2) Widen the range of potential suppliers by putting them in competition; (3) Obtain extended paying terms.

By taking FX risk out of the picture, currency management enables firms to reap these and other margin-boosting benefits of using more currencies in their day-to-day business operations. Ultimately, it is about removing the disincentives that prevent firms from ‘embracing currencies.

(2) Provide more informative financial statements

Informative financial statements allow investors to assess the quality of management by removing noise from the process. To the extent that the variability in net income is perceived as a measure of management quality, effective currency hedging creates a sense of discipline in the eyes of investors.

The good news for CFOs is that technology is making great strides in cost-effectively managing the accounting-related aspects of currency management. Here are two examples:

  1. Balance sheet hedging. Automated micro-hedging programs for balance sheet items take the impact of FX gains and losses out of the picture, as invoices are hedged with great precision.
  2. Traceability and Hedge Accounting. The perfect end-to-end traceability made possible by automated solutions eases the costly and time-consuming process of compiling the required documentation for Hedge Accounting.

(3) Lower the cost of capital

Companies can reduce cash flow variability thanks to a family of automated hedging programs and combinations of hedging programs, including layered hedging programs that make it possible to maintain steady prices in the face of adverse currency fluctuations.

In challenging times, when the availability of external financing at a reasonable cost is scarce —an all too common occurrence in years of pandemics and wars—reduced cash flow variability makes it possible for companies to execute their business plans and meet all cash commitments.

An impaired capacity to raise financing has implications in terms of valuation, especially for smaller businesses. This ‘cost’ has been variously measured, with some estimations ranging from 20% to 40% of firm value. Currency management enhances the capacity to raise finance and, by extension, lowers the cost of capital and boosts firm valuation.

A wide range of opportunities to create value

We have singled out three major contributions of currency management in terms of creating value for the business: (1) stimulating growth while protecting and enhancing profit margins; (2) lowering the variability of cash flows; (3) presenting more informative financial statements. We can mention even more benefits:

  • Taxation is optimised as smoother earnings reduce the tax burden when higher levels of profits are taxed at a higher rate.
  • Capital efficiency is raised when pricing with the FX rate improves the firm’s competitive position without hurting budgeted profit margins.

While most of these advantages have been known by CFOs for many years, there is a new factor to consider: they can be implemented with Currency Management Automation solutions that remove most of the resource-consuming, repetitive and low-value tasks performed by the finance team, eliminating unnecessary operational risks along the way.

With an added bonus: by leveraging currencies, CFOs have the opportunity to take decisive steps in terms of digitisation. According to a recent HSBC surveydigitisation is seen as the most positive factor by 84% of CFOs overall, as they expect investments in digital technology to have a “positive impact on their business”, with more than half of them expecting it to give the business model “a large boost”.

The time to act is … now!


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4 ways to optimise currency management in times of crisis

14-06-2022 | treasuryXL | Kantox | LinkedIn |

Did you know that CurrencyCast season 2 of Kantox is now available? In the first episode of the season, we look at four must-have tools to help you optimise your currency management and protect your business from risk in times of crisis. To see all episodes of CurrencyCast, click this link.

Credits: Kantox
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This week’s CurrencyCast looked at the four Currency Management Automation tools you need to navigate 2022’s predictable unpredictability. Here are our key takeaways:

(1) Put cash and currency management on the same page

The tool? The first Currency Management Automation tool is automated swap execution.

Why? Because, in times of pandemic and war, “Cash is King “. A recent risk treasury survey by HSBC finds that as many as 82% of CFOs say that cash management has been the most crucial issue during the last three years—and that is unlikely to change any time soon. The point is that cash management and FX risk management need to go hand in hand, especially in the current context.

How? By automatically executing the swap transactions that are necessary to adjust hedging positions to the settlement of the underlying commercial transactions, as cash flow moments do not always coincide. Failing to automate these cash adjustments properly hinders the whole risk management process. Yet, in FX risk management, cash management related tasks need as much attention —and as much automation— as other tasks of the FX workflow, like pricing with an FX rate, collecting and processing exposure information, or executing hedges.

(2) Optimise the impact of shifting interest rates 

The tool? The second Currency Management Automation tool is a robust FX rate feeder that enables commercial teams to price with the appropriate exchange rate, whether it’s the spot or the six-month forward rate, with all the required pricing markups per client segment and currency pair.

Why? Because interest rates are shifting in many places as we speak. As interest rates change, so does the difference between exchange rates with different value dates, also known as forward points. On the one hand, if your company is based in a strong currency area like Europe or North America and you are selling into Emerging Markets, your commercial teams may need to price with the forward rate to avoid unnecessary losses on the carry. On the other hand, you can take advantage of ‘favourable’ forward points to price more competitively without hurting your budgeted profit margins.

How? Most Treasury Management Systems (TMS) are not equipped with what we call at Kantox a ‘strong FX rate feeder’ that would enable commercial teams to quote with the appropriate exchange rate, in this case, the forward rate. For that, you need a software solution that, working alongside your existing systems, provides your commercial teams with all the FX rates they need for pricing purposes.

(3) Prepare for disrupted supply chains 

The tool? The third Currency Management Automation tool is an FX hedging program that allows you to delay —as much as possible, and according to your own tolerance of risk— the execution of hedges.

Why? Right now, as we speak, global supply chains are in turmoil. Commodity prices are seeing wild swings, and the economic outlook remains uncertain. This may lead to lower visibility regarding your cash flow forecasts and your forecasted exposure to currency risk.

How? One of the most fascinating tools that we have developed at Kantox —about which we will devote a future episode of CurrencyCast— allows treasurers to create a buffer from a ‘worst-case scenario’ FX rate that you wish to protect, if your aim is to keep steady prices during an entire campaign/budget period, and you can reprice at the onset of a new period.

This buffer, created by means of conditional FX orders, provides the flexibility to leverage information from incoming firm sales/purchase orders that are hedged. Forecast accuracy is usually correlated with time. As the campaign progresses, that flexibility allows you to gain more visibility into what is typically considered the less visible part of your exposure.

Delaying hedge execution also will enable you to:

(1) Create savings on the carry if forward points are not in your favour

(2) Set aside less cash than would otherwise be the case in terms of margin and collateral requirements

(4) Protect your profit margins and cash flows

The tool? Last but not least, the fourth Currency Management Automation tool needed to tackle 2022’s predictable unpredictability is —quite obviously— a strong FX hedging program.

Why? Because you need to protect your budgeted operating profit margins and company cash flows from currency risk. You may also desire to reduce the variability of your performance as measured in your financial statements. By allowing your firm to confidently buy and sell in the currency of your suppliers and customers, you take advantage of the margin-enhancing benefits of ‘embracing currencies’.

There is an additional benefit that may prove particularly relevant these days. In the event of a sharp devaluation of your customer’s currency, if you only sell in a handful of currencies such as EUR or USD, your customer may be tempted to unilaterally wait for a better exchange rate to settle their bills. You don’t want to be in that position — and you do it by selling in local currencies in the first place.

How? With the help of a family of automated hedging programs and combinations of hedging programs designed to systematically protect your firm from currency risk. These can be personalised whatever the pricing patterns of your business — whether you face dynamic prices or you desire to keep steady prices during an entire campaign period, or you wish to keep prices as stable as possible during a set of campaign periods linked together.


Global Treasury Lead @ Deel

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Treasury Intern @ Mileway

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The top challenges that will affect your FX risk strategy in 2022

04-04-2022 | treasuryXL | Kantox | LinkedIn |

“The year of predictable unpredictability”, as The Economist calls it. But what challenges lay in store for risk managers in 2022 when it comes to their FX risk strategy?

Credits: Kantox
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1. Shifting interest rate differentials across currencies

Let’s start with the first of our challenges that will affect your FX risk strategy in 2022, namely shifting interest rate differentials across currencies. This is the result of central banks reacting to inflation and inflation expectations. This will, in all likelihood, lead to increasing differences between FX rates with different value dates—also known as forward points. Central banks from a wide range of countries have adjusted their short-term interest rates in 2021, and more are set to act in 2022: Chile, Brazil, Czech Republic, UK, Hungary, Poland, NZ, South Africa, and South Korea among others.

Is your company well-prepared to manage those shifts? Is it well-prepared to take advantage of favourable forward points? In the event of ‘favourable’ forward points, for example, when a company sells and hedges in a currency that trades at a forward premium, pricing with the forward rate would allow that company to price more competitively—without endangering its profit margins.

As Toni Rami, Kantox’s Co-founder and Chief Growth Officer says, “most companies fail to take advantage of this opportunity, either because they lack the technology to do it, or because they are not aware of it, or because of both”.

Is it well prepared to protect itself from unfavourable forward points? This is shaping up to be a key concern in 2022. It would be the case, for example, of a company that sells (and hedges) in a currency or in currencies that trade at a forward discount, like a Europe- or a US-based firm that sells, for example, in Brazil.

This company could protect itself by setting boundaries around its FX pricing rate by means of automated and dynamically updated profit-taking and stop-loss orders in order to delay as much as possible the execution of the hedges. Failure to have this mechanism in place will mean:

(a) unnecessary financial losses due to the cost of carry (a key point in 2022 given recent developments in central bank policies)

(b) too much capital tied up in terms of collateral/margin requirements

(c) not enough time at your disposal in order to fine-tune and improve your forecasts (FX surveys consistently show that CFOs and treasurers would like to have more time at their disposal to fine-tune and improve their forecasts)

2. Ongoing pressure on profit margins

Turning to the second challenge, is the ongoing pressure on profit margins. There is a clear need for better, more dynamic pricing systems, as McKinsey surveys consistently show. Does your company have a proper system to price with FX rates? On the face of it, this looks like a simple proposition. It’s not. It requires a system to fetch the appropriate FX rate with criteria in terms of:

(a) sourcing the FX rate;

(b) communicating that FX rate to commercial teams

(c) updating that rate according to time-based or data-driven criteria.

And it also requires a system to create the FX-pricing rules that your business needs. Failure to have these systems in place will likely result in not being able to properly set the pricing markups —per client segment and per currency pair— that your commercial strategy requires and not being able to adequately use the forward rate for pricing purposes.

Take, again, the case of unfavourable forward points, namely a firm that sells and hedges in a currency that trades at a forward discount, or that buys and hedges in a currency that trades at a forward premium. With the proper pricing rules in place, the firm needs to price with the forward rate. That would allow it to avoid unnecessary financial losses on the carry. In 2022, with several EM central banks preparing to further raise short-term interest rates, this is likely to be a critically important element in any FXRM strategy.

3. The uncertain FX markets outlook

Finally, the uncertain FX markets outlook is a reminder of the importance of having a solid FX risk management strategy in place in 2022. According to Citi’s latest Treasury Diagnostics survey, 79% of risk managers have exposure to non-G10 currencies, in many cases unhedged because of costs, liquidity and regulations; 60% of treasurers expect a new client base in emerging markets to be the largest driver of FX-denominated sales growth. Yet 57% of CFOs say they suffered lower earnings in the past two years due to significant unhedged FX risk (worldwide), rising to 77% in EMEA. America: 61%, Asia: 43% (HSBC survey).

This requires automated hedging programs and/or combinations of automated hedging programs. Failure to have these programs in place in 2022 is likely to mean: (a) a high variability in performance, whether it is measured in cash-flow terms or in terms of accounting results; (b) failure to adequately protect and enhance operating profit margins; (c) the possibility that your customer’s FX could turn into your own credit risk if excessive currency volatility forces them to wait for a better exchange rate to settle their bills.

Worried about your FX risk health? Take our free assessment and get a personalised insights report in minutes. 


The Do’s and Dont’s of Pricing with an FX Rate

09-03-2022 | treasuryXL | Kantox | LinkedIn |

Give up your time-driven rules for pricing with an FX rate and go for a data-driven approach instead!

In this article, we are going to highlight the challenges faced by treasurers as they seek to manage pricing risk. According to Toni Rami, Kantox’s co-founder and Chief Growth Officer: “Understanding pricing is perhaps the most crucial element in order to design a great FXRM program

Credits: Kantox
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Click on the image above for the corresponding episode of CurrencyCast


Pricing risk

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.

 

The natural way to reduce it is to increase the frequency of price updates. After all, the price itself is a potent hedging mechanism. But that is not an option for companies that wish to keep steady prices during a campaign/budget period or during a set of campaigns/budget periods linked together.

We will discuss this situation in further articles. Today we want to highlight the shortcomings of the most widely used criteria for pricing updates: time-driven criteria.

Shortcomings of time-driven criteria

A time-driven rule to manage pricing risk consists in setting a time frame between the moment an FX-driven price is set and the moment it is updated. It can be every 24 hours, every week, every month. Quite obviously, the longer the time to the update, the higher the risk.

At Kantox, we are convinced that this approach is arbitrary, that it doesn’t protect you against FX risk, and that it does not reflect the business or financial needs of the firm. Take the 24-hour rule. Why not 23 hours or 25 hours instead? A time-based approach does not eliminate risk: a  sharp move in markets can well take place inside a very short time span before prices are updated.

Another way to see this is that it makes it more difficult for the firm to react to favourable moves in FX markets. Take the case of a firm that prices and sells in EUR and buys in USD, using the EUR-USD currency rate as a key pricing parameter. A rise in the EUR could allow it to outsmart the competition by pricing more competitively without hurting its budgeted profit margins.

Failure to take advantage of this type of opportunity is a serious shortcoming in terms of pricing strategies, at a time when —according to consultants McKinsey— pricing is becoming a key strategic element in today’s competitive landscape.  

The alternative: data-driven criteria

At Kantox, we believe that such arbitrary time-driven rules should give way to a data-driven approach that consists of setting 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.

If FX markets remain relatively stable, then the firm can keep steady prices, something that is attractive in many B2C setups. This approach also allows treasurers to take advantage of favourable moves in currency markets while protecting budgeted profit margins, independent of when these movements occur.

How far or close to the reference rate these boundaries are set reflects risk managers’ tolerance to FX risk. In addition, the pricing configuration can be adjusted according to the goals of management in terms of:

  • Setting the pricing markups per client segment and per currency pair that the business strategy requires.
  • Selecting the tenor of the FX rate used in pricing. Do you wish to price with the spot rate? Or with the three-month or six-month forward rate instead? If your company is based in a strong currency area such as North America or Europe, and it sells into Emerging Markets, pricing with the forward rate will protect it from adverse interest rate differentials. Firms that lack this possibility may be tempted to apply too drastic markups, thereby unnecessarily damaging their competitive position.

While most Treasury Management Systems lack what we call a ‘strong FX rate feeder’, Currency Management Automation solutions —working alongside your existing systems— allow finance 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.

Worried about your FX risk health? Take our free assessment and get a personalised insights report in minutes. 


Treasurer @ Shypple

Rotterdam – Full-time Read more