What is Currency Hedging?

Currency hedging is a financial strategy used to reduce or eliminate the risk of losing money due to fluctuations in exchange rates. This strategy is particularly relevant for funds with investments across different countries with transactions in various currencies.

The basic concept involves using financial instruments such as forward contracts, options, and futures to lock in exchange rates for the purchase or sale of currencies at a future date. By doing so, you can protect the value of your international investments against adverse currency movements.

For example, if a U.S.-based investor owns stocks in Europe, they face a risk that the euro will depreciate against the dollar. If this happens, the value of their investment when converted back to dollars will decrease. To hedge this risk, the investor might buy a forward contract that fixes the exchange rate for euros to dollars for a future date, ensuring some level of protection against the euro falling in value.

Currency hedging can be crucial in managing the financial stability of international operations and investments, helping to provide more predictable cash flows and valuation by mitigating exchange rate volatility. However, it’s also important to recognise that while hedging reduces risk, it can also limit potential gains from favourable currency movements.

It has been particularly important during periods of significant exchange rate volatility, economic turmoil, or when specific events trigger substantial fluctuations in currency values. Here are a few historical contexts where currency hedging played a crucial role:

Financial Crises:

During the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, currencies of several Asian countries plummeted, drastically altering the economic landscape. Companies and investors with interests in these markets could have mitigated losses through effective currency hedging strategies.

Eurozone Debt Crisis:

The Eurozone crisis, which began in 2009, caused significant instability in the euro, affecting businesses and investors exposed to European markets. Those who had hedged their currency exposure were better protected against the euro’s decline relative to other currencies.


The UK’s decision to leave the European Union in 2016 led to sharp, sudden drops in the value of the British pound. Investors and businesses with foresight in hedging their pound exposure would have shielded themselves from some of the negative impacts of these movements.

Global Trade Tensions:

Events like the US-China trade war initiated under President Trump led to currency volatility as global markets reacted to tariffs and changing trade policies. Investors engaged in international trade could hedge their currency risk to manage the unpredictability in cash flows and investment returns.

Pandemic Response:

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent global economic impact caused significant currency volatility, with safe-haven currencies like the USD and JPY appreciating against others. Businesses and investors with hedging strategies in place could manage risks associated with such unpredictable movements.

In each case, currency hedging was crucial for managing financial risk and protecting assets against adverse movements in foreign exchange rates. Hedging allows fund managers to stabilise their returns by protecting against unfavourable shifts in currency valuations, which can significantly impact the profitability of their underlying investments and the funds value.

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The guidance and/or advice contained within this website is subject to the UK regulatory regime and is therefore primarily targeted at consumers based in the UK. Welby is a trading name of Welby Associates Wealth Management Ltd Company Registered Number NI630504 who is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, FCA register number 697372. The Financial Ombudsman Service is available to sort out individual complaints that clients and financial services businesses aren't able to resolve themselves. To contact the Financial Ombudsman Service please visit www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk

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