Let’s face it: for individuals and businesses alike, exchange rates are one of the most important factors of international money transfer. Having a favorable exchange rate can make a significant difference in how much money you need to provide in your payments, and knowing that you’ll always get a good rate can make a difference in your day-to-day transactions as well as your long-term strategic planning.
However, in the world of FX and FX risk management, one common mistake we see is businesses solely looking at the rates they can get from their FX providers, and failing to look past the rate to other determining factors. But what are these factors, and what should businesses really be looking for in their FX providers?
Why shouldn’t you only look at the rates?
To clarify: we aren’t saying that you shouldn’t look at the rates offered by potential providers. They just aren’t the only thing that will affect your business’s exposure to currency risk.
FX providers don’t just help you make currency exchanges. They offer a wide range of other products and services to help organizations manage their international payments as well as manage their FX risk, and having a narrow focus on the exchange rates can prevent you from seeing the bigger picture and understanding how the FX provider can help your business as a whole.
Think about all of the ways in which your business engages with international currencies, and look at all of your potential FX risk exposures. They don’t all have to do with the exchange rates, right? The right provider for your organization will have product offerings that address your organization’s specific needs.
It’s also important to assess potential providers with a discerning eye, and with the mantra, “If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.” If a provider offers fantastic rates that noticeably stand out from the rates offered by the competition, carefully consider why that might be. Are they able to offer these fantastic rates at the cost of offering other essential products and services to their clients? Don’t be afraid to ask the detailed questions.
Rate comparisons can also be misleading. The foreign exchange markets are constantly moving, and it’s not uncommon for the rates to change multiple times per day. Unless you’re comparing rates at one precise moment, it’s possible that you don’t have a completely accurate comparison between the two. A rate that looks stronger now might not be that way in a few hours.
As a final note, keep in mind that one service that many foreign exchange providers offer is watching the rates for you. If there is a particular rate that your business wants for its transactions, look into providers with a “rate alert” option so you won’t spend all of your time being preoccupied by checking for the best rate.
What else should you look for?
So now that we’ve established that rates aren’t the only offering you should look for, you’re probably wondering what else you should be looking for. Ultimately, that depends on your foreign exchange risk and what your business is looking for.
Once you’ve created your FX risk management policy, consider what your organization can’t do alone. That’s where your foreign exchange provider can help you. Some of the features you might want to look for include:
- Specialized services for your sector or business operations
- Support services to aid when something goes wrong
- Comprehensive online services that can be accessed anywhere, any time of day
- Transparency and clear communication
- Services that can simplify complex business processes
- Fast transaction speeds
Don’t be afraid to shop around for the right foreign exchange provider. If you want the best solutions for your business, it might take some time before you find the provider that has the expertise and products to address your risks.
Want to hear more about Xe's FX solutions for businesses? Visit our Business page for more information about our offerings and to see how we can help your organization manage its foreign exchange needs.