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Guide to foreign exchange and money transfers for expats

Fluctuations and market volatility in currency exchange rates can make a significant difference to an expat’s income and spending power, particularly for those on fixed incomes who are tied to a tight budget.

Exchange rates are directly linked to economic performance; therefore, it is essential that expats manage their finances and the ongoing situation in their new country to maximise the chances of benefiting from your currency exchange.

Currency volatility and fluctuating exchange rates are issues that affect both retired expats and overseas employees, but currency hedging can limit your exposure to adverse exchange rate movement.

Today, the British pound to US dollar (GBP/USD) exchange rate has increased to USD 1.40, while the British pound to euro (GBP/EUR) exchange rate stands at EUR 1.16. At the end of September 2020, a pound bought USD 1.28 and EUR 1.09.

While the difference in the exchange rate may seem insignificant but, as a UK investor, if you were intending to buy an overseas property in Florida for USD 300,000, you could make a significant saving when compared to purchasing the property a few months ago.

Epats transferring money overseas

Transferring money overseas

Essentially, a money transfer is converting one currency into another, and there are several ways that this can be completed.

Tourists and holidaymakers tend to make international money transfers through their bank, whether that be online or in-branch as well as through wire services.

While this may be suitable for sending small amounts of money, if you are an expat living abroad who needs to make regular money transfers, you could avoid high bank fees and expensive services by using a foreign exchange specialist.

How can expats source the best foreign exchange rates?

Foreign exchange specialists tend to offer better value than banks, building societies and other financial services firms, who make the bulk of their profit through additional costs and higher fees.

Foreign exchange currency providers deal with significant sums of money daily, giving them access to highly competitive exchange rates. By keeping their costs down, they can then pass preferential exchange rates onto clients.

Nevertheless, expats should always ensure that the currency transfer service is authorised or regulated by a financial regulator. In the UK, payment services firms are governed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), but you should know that there’s a difference between being authorised and registered.

Firms that are FCA authorised offer a safer service as they must adhere to certain safeguards on your money, whereas firms that are FCA registered have much looser regulation.

Firms that are FCA authorised must adhere to certain safeguards on your money, must demonstrate sufficient capital within their business and are tightly controlled on governance matters. Firms that are only FCA registered are subject to much less stringent oversight and are limited in the volume of payments they can make.

Benefits of expats using a specialist foreign exchange service

Each of Halo Financials’ clients is designated an account manager, who will work closely with you to provide invaluable FX market guidance and insight in the often unpredictable currency market landscape.

With Halo Financial, your international payments can arrive faster – same-day and next-day trades on key worldwide currencies – and target exchange rates can be monitored 24/7, all part of their award-winning: Platinum Trusted Service.

Halo Financial also offers several foreign exchange rate contract options to protect your money transfers from the risk of adverse currency fluctuations.

FAQ: CURRENCY EXCHANGE FOR EXPATS

Halo understands that choosing between a bank and specialist currency exchange provider to fulfil your money transfer may be a difficult task, so here are a few of the most frequently asked questions regarding currency exchange for expats.

How much money can you move from the UK?

While there is no official limit on how much money you can transfer internationally, foreign exchange providers may impose their own restrictions on how much you can send in a single transaction. Sometimes, the receiving bank also has limitations.

I’m looking for a more competitive exchange rate – what can I do?

If your need for your foreign currency isn’t immediate, it may be worth monitoring exchange rate movements and holding out for a better rate, but, unless you have adequate provisions in place which most foreign exchange providers offer, this can come at the risk of the exchange rate worsening.

Seek specialist advice from a currency expert who will be able to point you in the right direction. Through proactive risk management of your currency requirements, they may be able to help you decide on the option best for your needs.

What is a foreign exchange contract?

foreign exchange contract is a legal arrangement between the individual or business making a money transfer and the party fulfilling the currency exchange.

Both parties agree to transfer a sum of money at a predetermined rate of exchange and predetermined date, often to hedge against the risk of fluctuating currency exchange rates.

I receive my pension monthly, so the amount changes frequently. Is there a better way to arrange a money transfer?

Due to the current geopolitical situation, volatility in currency markets is expected to continue. Still, you could minimise your risk to exposure of adverse exchange rate movement by opting for a regular payment service.

That way, a desirable exchange rate can be locked in for a set period, often up to twelve months in advance, to maximise your currency exchange and provide a fixed amount you will receive and/or need to pay.  This is extremely helpful if you operate to a budget.

If you would like to find out more about how Halo Financial could help you save time and money on your currency transfers, please do not hesitate to give us a call on 020 7350 5474.