An Introduction to Forwards, Futures and Options | Part 2

17-06-2020 | by Aastha Tomar

In her previous post, our Expert Aastha Tomar explained how the forwards work. Lets see the second type of hedge. The second type of hedge contract is futures. Like forwards they also fix the currency rate for a future date. The major difference between a future and a forward is that futures are exchange traded and therefore they are standardized.

Features of Futures

  1. They have standard sizes, delivery dates and settlement rules. The settlement mechanisms reduces much of the credit risk .
    -> Now why do I say that credit risk is reduced ?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    As mentioned earlier, all settlement takes place through the exchange clearing house and the two parties buyer and seller are not in direct contact with each other. Therefore since it is the responsibility of exchange clearing house to settle the trade, the counter-parties run the credit risk of the exchange clearing house instead on each other.

  2. They can be cash settled or physically delivered and are legally binding.They trade in one contract size, so corporate must trade in multiples of that
  3. They move in increments called ticks and each tick has a value. The number of ticks made or lost on a trade determines the loss/profit of the trade
  4. The counter parties holding the contracts on the expiration date must deliver the currency amount at the specified price on the specified delivery date or they can even close out the position before the expiry date, this can be done by doing an equal and opposite trade in the same futures contract.
  5. To enter into a future contract an initial deposit into a margin account is required . The contract is then marked to market each day and a company is required to add more funds to the margin account if cumulative losses drain the margin account. If the company does not respond to a margin call, the exchange closes out the contract.
  6. The contracts are physically delivered four times in a year on the third Wednesday of March, June, September, and December.

Difference between future and forwards

  1. Futures are traded on an exchange hence standardized therefore a company may not be able to hedge the exact and full amount of underlying transaction. They may have to under-hedge .
  2. The delivery date in future may not be same as the maturity of underlying transaction which may open the corporate for some market fluctuation.
  3. The treasures can easily unwind a hedge position earlier than its normal settlement date if needed.
  4. In a forward contract, the bank includes a transaction fee in the contract. In a futures contract, a broker charges a commission to execute the deal.
Lets understand futures with an example :

Lets take EUR/USD as an example,

One contract size for EURUSD future is $125,000 worth of Euros and one tick size for EURUSD future is .00005. Therefore the price movement will be ($125,000*.00005) =$6.25 per EUR

Now if we purchase one futures contract of the EUR/USD, which is trading $1.0901 . We are hoping that EUR will appreciate , relative to the Dollar. Suppose we are lucky and things go as expected, and the exchange rate rises to $1.09015, We will make $6.25 in profit (per contract). Cool !!! Suppose we are luckier and FED makes some negative announcement on top of that ECB does some tremendous positive changes in their policy due to which EUR shoots up becomes much more stronger and exchange rate rises to $1.09110 (a whooping increase of 20 ticks), then we would make $125.00 in profit per contract ($6.25 x 20 ticks = $125.00).

lets see it more clearly in the following table :

Now why do corporates stay away from Futures ?

  1. Futures cannot be customized hence there is not always a complete hedge
  2. Companies don’t want to put initial margin money in the exchange
  3. They want to stay away from the hassle of mark to market each day and depositing money if the losses erase the deposited margin money
  4. With forwards there is a human interaction with the banker who enters trade with you and you feel more comfortable with that, you may also negotiate forward premia with the banker and if there is a long standing relationship with the bank, the bank sometimes forego or reduce the fees. In Futures that’s not the case.

Whether its a forward or future contract, nothing is difficult if you have the intent to learn the product . Once you start understanding how hedge market works and start realizing the benefit of it then it will eventually be beneficial for you as a Treasurer and for your corporate which will be saved from unwanted currency fluctuations. In our third and last post in this series we will talk about Options ..keep learning, be safe.. to be continued ….


Aastha Tomar

FX & Derivatives | Debt Capital Markets | MBA Finance
Electrical Engineer | Sustainability

An Introduction to Forwards, Futures and Options | Part 1

03-06-2020 | by Aastha Tomar

Our financial world has now gone through enough crisis. Some learnt from previous crisis and were braced for the next while some were still in their learning phase. The current crisis took everyone by alteration because this time it was not the financial sector which was responsible for the ordain. The fluctuations seen in equity, bond, commodity and currency markets may have become Achilles heels for Corporate Treasurers in current times.

The incumbent state of affairs was such that Corporates had to protect their bottom line while trying to stay afloat. The entire cash flow projections would have gone for a flip for those who didn’t hedge their foreign currency exposure. One way that would have taken a part of vexation away from corporate treasurers due to currency fluctuation is hedging. It would have attenuated the impact of currency fluctuation on investments, borrowings, assets etc .

Let us have a look at the most used and basic methods of hedging in this article :


So what are forwards? In a simple language its a hedge product between two parties which freezes your cash flow for a future date. That ways whatever the market situation be on the maturity date of the hedge, your cash flows are locked and predetermined. Whether you are an exporter who can know the exact value of future payments or an importer who can anticipate the exact costs of products; a forward will hedge the risk of currency fluctuation for both.

Features of Forwards :

  1. Specifies the amount, date and rate for a future currency exchange
  2. Parties involved are banks and businesses with foreign currency exposure
  3. They are over the counter products
  4. They can be customized
  5. They need two parties, one buyer other a seller
  6. There is no upfront payment
  7. Determining a currency forward rate depends on interest rate differentials for the currency pair in question

Example :

Suppose you are an exporter based in the Netherlands and you want to sell Dollars in an years time. You know due to current euro zone, corona crisis and negative interest rate scenarios Euro may fluctuate sideways and therefore you want to lock in the price of USD today itself so that one year down the line you don’t have to worry about the fluctuating rates. What do you do ? You approach a bank informing them that you have to sell USD (buy EURUSD) for 1st June, 2021. After basic documentation bank enters with an forward agreement with you . Where in today’s spot rate , the currency premium for one year , the amount of hedge and the maturity rate will be mentioned .


Spot EURUSD : 1.08282 (1 EUR = 1.08282 USD )

1 year interest rate for EUR = -.07%

1 year interest rate for USD = 0.7%


So after one year based on interest rate parity :


EUR 1* ( 1+(-.0007))= USD 1.08282 *( 1+ .007)

0.9993 EUR = 1.090 USD

Therefore 1 EUR = 1.0911 USD


Therefore by entering a forward contract today you have fixed your EURUSD rate to 1.0911. Note that because the dollar has a higher interest rate than the EUR, it trades at a forward discount to the EUR.


Let us take a simple scenario analysis to make things clearer :


Here the forward deal amount is : EUR 1mn

Spot rate on the day of deal is : 1.08282

Forward rate fixed for the deal is : 1.0911

We can clearly see above that if the spot is same as the forward rate on the maturity date then there is no loss or gain, but if spot moves to 1.09250 then the corporate saves USD 1400 on the contrary if spot moves to 1.0900 the corporate wont be able to take advantage of the low price and will have to exercise the forward at 1.0911 as fixed earlier thus letting go of USD 1100.

So if forwards are so beneficial why do corporates still do not execute forwards for all of their foreign currency transactions :

  1. There is some documentation involved and corporates sometimes feel that its time taking and taxing
  2. At maturity date what so ever the actual spot rate be your forward will be executed at the fixed price , and some corporates feel that they may lose a chance to take advantage of better rates.
  3. Banks charge a small fee for entering the transactions which corporates want to save.
  4. Corporates feel the currency wont fluctuate much and hence don’t want to get into forward transaction.

Whatever the reasons be but the main business of corporates is not to use their energies in managing their fx risk but to increase profits by their mainline business hence its always advised for corporates to hedge their fx risk as much as possible to increase efficiency and prevent themselves from unseen shocks.

In our next post in this series we will see a second type of hedge … to be continued. Till then keep learning and be safe .


Aastha Tomar

FX & Derivatives | Debt Capital Markets | MBA Finance
Electrical Engineer | Sustainability

Walk the walk into FX exposure: my first baby steps

| 20-06-2016 | Pieter de Kiewit |

Being a treasury recruiter I know how to talk about many aspects in corporate treasury, never having to prove I understand and can execute. Apparently this is not necessary to do a proper recruitment job. As a small business owner I do have my miniature corporate treasury tasks. Below I want to describe the most complex FX issue I encountered so far. Not so much for the readers who are seasoned treasury professionals, but for my fellow entrepreneurs and others not dealing with FX on a daily basis.

A large, listed firm with a presence in various countries asked for my support in finding an interim treasury manager for a transition project. Doing what we do, this task was executed swiftly. The next steps were a bit more complex, given the fact that the assignment will be executed in Switzerland and The Netherlands and the interim manager is from the UK. Our previous cross border, non Euro payments were related to permanent placements, resulting in a single invoice. Most of these can easily be done via electronic banking. I know the bank in that case charges me a fee for the actual transfer and without sending me a quote will earn from making Euro’s out of other currencies. Perhaps I should have asked how much. I suspect I paid over 40 base points.

In this case, there will be many invoices related to one project, resulting in many transfer fees. The interim manager wants to be paid in GBP, if my client would pay in Euro’s this will lead to many Euro-GBP transfers. I am not too keen on that, I expect costs will be substantial. On top of this, the Brexit is in the news constantly creating a blurry situation for me. How to move forward? What is the advise of my bank? What do companies like NBWM or Monex tell me? Spots, forwards, swaps? Without going into detail this is where I stand.

My client is willing to pay me in GBP. With my bank I could open a GBP account quite swiftly. Instead of researching and managing this part of the FX risk I will invoice in GBP, making this a complete GBP project. This way I do not have to think about FX risk during the project. At the end of the whole project I will decide if my bank will convert my GBP in Euro’s or I will ask others. I do have to decide if I will accept the risk of the GBP collapsing or if I will hedge this risk. My costs are in Euro’s, who can predict the future for me?

Pieter de Kiewit



Pieter de Kiewit
Owner Treasurer Search