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Currency Risk Management for Community Bankers




Community bankers rely heavily on the American dollar's pivotal position as the global reserve currency. In order to effectively serve their clients, community bankers and Credit Union leaders must have a deep understanding of the obstacles that local businesses encounter in international trade.

Understanding the Issue:

The fluctuations in the value of the American dollar have a significant impact on local businesses that operate in international markets, causing disruptions to their pricing strategies and making it difficult for them to predict their future earnings. Community bankers play a vital role in assisting these businesses and must possess a thorough understanding of the complexities involved in managing foreign exchange risks.

Types of Exposure:

There are various aspects to consider when it comes to foreign exchange risk, including transaction exposure, accounting exposure, and economic exposure. It is crucial for community bankers to have a comprehensive understanding of these exposures in order to effectively support local businesses in managing their currency risks.

Why Hedge:

By effectively managing foreign exchange risk, community bankers can help local businesses safeguard their profit margins and anticipate future cash flows. They act as valuable guides, likening hedging to the purchase of insurance that safeguards against unfavorable fluctuations in exchange rates.

Practical Steps for Banks:

  1. Identify and Measure Exposure: Assist businesses in understanding their exposure to foreign exchange risk.
  2. Develop a Foreign Exchange Policy: Work with businesses to create a policy that aligns with their risk tolerance and objectives.
  3. Implement Consistent Hedges: Help businesses choose and execute appropriate hedging strategies.
  4. Periodically Evaluate Effectiveness: Regularly assess the impact of hedging strategies and make adjustments as needed.

Natural Hedging:

Encourage local businesses to explore natural hedging to reduce the gap between receipts and payments in a foreign currency. For example, guide businesses to consider borrowing in foreign currencies to offset their exposure.

Financial Hedging Tools:

Introduce community bankers to financial hedging instruments such as forward contracts, currency options, and swaps. Provide insights into how these tools can be used to protect local businesses from adverse exchange rate movements.

Key Takeaways:

Emphasize to community bankers that managing foreign exchange risk doesn't require predicting future rates. Encourage a focus on protecting against unacceptable risks, using a combination of natural hedges and financial instruments. Highlight that managing foreign exchange risk is a temporary solution; community bankers can guide local businesses to adapt in the long term through strategies like improving productivity, reducing costs, finding new buyers, and enhancing customer service.

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