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Strategy & Education

How Do You Make Money Trading Currencies?

currency exchange business model

Investors can trade almost any currency in the world through foreign exchange ( forex ). In order to make money in forex, you should be aware that you are taking on a speculative risk . In essence, you are betting that the value of one currency will increase relative to another. The expected return of currency trading is similar to the money market and lower than stocks or bonds. However, it is possible to increase both returns and risk by using leverage . Currency trading is generally more profitable for active traders than passive investors.

Key Takeaways

Buying and Selling Currency Explained

It is important to note that currencies are traded and priced in pairs. For example, you may have seen a currency quote for a EUR/USD pair of 1.1256. In this example, the base currency is the euro. The U.S. dollar is the quote currency .

In all currency quote cases, the base currency is worth one unit. The quoted currency is the amount of currency that one unit of the base currency can buy. Based on our previous example, all that means is that one euro can buy 1.1256 U.S. dollars. An investor can make money in forex by appreciation in the value of the quoted currency or by a decrease in value of the base currency.

How Do You Make Money Trading Money?

Another perspective on currency trading comes from considering the position an investor is taking on each currency pair. The base currency can be thought of as a short position because you are "selling" the base currency to purchase the quoted currency. In turn, the quoted currency can be seen as a long position on the currency pair .

In our example above, we see that one euro can purchase $1.1256 and vice versa. To buy the euros, the investor must first go short on the U.S. dollar to go long on the euro. To make money on this investment, the investor will have to sell back the euros when their value appreciates relative to the U.S. dollar.

For instance, let's assume the value of the euro appreciates to $1.1266. On a lot of 100,000 euros, the investor would gain $100 ($112,660 - $112,560) if they sold the euros at this exchange rate . Conversely, if the EUR/USD exchange rate fell from $1.1256 to $1.1246, then the investor would lose $100 ($112,460 - $112,560).

Advantages for Active Traders

The currency market is a paradise for active traders. The forex market is the most liquid market in the world. Commissions are often zero, and bid-ask spreads are near zero. Spreads near one pip are common for some currency pairs. It is possible to frequently trade forex without high transaction costs.

With forex, there is always a bull market somewhere. The long-short nature of forex, the diversity of global currencies, and the low or even negative correlation of many currencies with stock markets ensures constant opportunities to trade. There is no need to sit on the sidelines for years during bear markets .

Although forex has a reputation as risky, it is actually an ideal place to get started with active trading. Currencies are generally less volatile than stocks, as long as you don't use leverage. The low returns for passive investment in the forex market also make it much harder to confuse a bull market with being a financial genius. If you can make money in the forex market, you can make it anywhere.

Finally, the forex market offers access to much higher levels of leverage for experienced traders. Regulation T sharply limits the maximum leverage available to stock investors in the United States.   It is usually possible to get 50 to 1 leverage in the forex market, and it is sometimes possible to get 400 to 1 leverage. This high leverage is one of the reasons for the risky reputation of currency trading.

New forex traders should not use high leverage. It is best to start using little or no leverage and gradually increase it as profits and experience grow.

Disadvantages for Passive Investors

Passive investors seldom make money in the forex market. The first reason is that returns to passively holding foreign currencies are low, similar to the money market. If you think about it, that makes sense. When U.S. investors buy euros in the forex market, they are really investing in the EU's money market. Money markets around the world generally have low expected returns, and so does forex.

The benefits of the forex market for active traders are usually useless or even harmful for passive investors. Low trading costs mean very little if you do not trade very much. Using high leverage without a stop-loss order can lead to large losses. On the other hand, using stop-loss orders essentially turns an investor into an active trader.

Getting Started With Forex

The forex market was once much less accessible to average investors, but getting started is easy now. Many large brokerages, such as Fidelity , offer forex trading to their customers. Specialized forex brokers, such as OANDA , make sophisticated tools available to traders with balances as low as one dollar.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. " Investor Bulletin: Understanding Margin Accounts ."


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How to Start a Currency Trading Business

If you've ever traveled outside the country, you know exchange rates can kill you, but only if the foreign currency is worth more than your home country's currency. For example, if $1 will only buy £0.70, then you're effectively "trading down," assuming costs for goods and services are relatively equal in both countries.

But, you can take advantage of these same exchange rates, and make a profit, if you own a currency trading business. Foreign exchange trading involves buying and selling foreign currency to make money off an international foreign exchange market. Since the value of the world's currencies are constantly changing, the purpose of the business is to time the buying and selling of currencies, trading one against another, so that the company profits from currency swings with minimal losses (called "drawdown").

You may also be interested in additional home business ideas .

Ready to form your LLC? Check out the Top LLC Formation Services .

Learn how to start your own Currency Trading Business and whether it is the right fit for you.

Currency Trading Business Image

Start a currency trading business by following these 10 steps:

There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your currency trading business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.

Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas .

STEP 1: Plan your business

A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:

How much can you charge customers?

What will you name your business.

Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.

What are the costs involved in opening a currency trading business?

The costs for starting a currency trading business are minimal. All you need is a computer and access to a FOREX trading platform. Expect to pay between $500 and $2,500 for a computer. Higher end computers are sometimes necessary if you plan on doing high volume trading. In this case, your computer costs could exceed $5,000-$10,000.

What are the ongoing expenses for a currency trading business?

Ongoing expenses for a currency trading business include a fast internet connection and computer maintenance, including regular software upgrades. Even with these costs, you should pay no more than $1,000 per year. If you are a broker, your costs may exceed several thousand dollars per month in server costs, software maintenance and upgrades, and servicing traders who use your platform.

Who is the target market?

If you are running a currency trading business for yourself, you have no customers. If you grow into a broker or market-maker, your customers are other traders and sometimes other brokers.

How does a currency trading business make money?

Currency trading businesses make money from the rise in currencies they invest in. Specifically, traders hope that the price of the currency they just bought will rise relative to the one they just sold. If you are a broker, you charge other traders a fixed or variable spread commission for trading. Some companies act as "pass through" entities for large market-makers, and only charge a fraction of a pip commission so that their traders can pay a thin spread that is only usually offered to very large or institutional investors.

If you are brokering for other traders, you can charge between 0 and 4 pips per trade. Since this is a very competitive industry, if you charge higher than the average for brokers, make sure you offer value-added services for traders.

How much profit can a currency trading business make?

If you are trading currencies, your revenues can fluctuate depending on market conditions, but generally a trader will earn between $50,000 and $150,000 per year, gross. This means a company employing 5 traders can expect to gross up to $750,000 per year. However, very successful traders can earn much more.

A broker or market maker may earn between $500,000 and $10 million or more per year.

How can you make your business more profitable?

Create a platform that other traders want to use. This market is driven by low trading costs and fast execution service. These are the two areas you should spend most of your time improving. This business also has a reputation among some traders for shady broker practices. Being transparent with your customers and explaining your trading practices, avoiding slippage in your buy and sell orders, and not using markup to boost profits, are all things that will keep your customers coming back to you and thus increase long-term profits for your company.

Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Currency Trading Business Name Generator

If you operate a sole proprietorship , you might want to operate under a business name other than your own name. Visit our DBA guide to learn more.

When registering a business name , we recommend researching your business name by checking:

It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.

Find a Domain Now

Powered by godaddy.com, step 2: form a legal entity.

The most common business structure types are the sole proprietorship , partnership , limited liability company (LLC) , and corporation .

Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your currency trading business is sued.

Form Your LLC

Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC

Have a Professional Service Form your LLC for You

Two such reliable services:

You can form an LLC yourself and pay only the minimal state LLC costs or hire one of the Best LLC Services for a small, additional fee.

Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services . You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.

STEP 3: Register for taxes

You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.

In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!

You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.

Learn how to get an EIN in our What is an EIN guide or find your existing EIN using our EIN lookup guide.

Small Business Taxes

Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).

You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:

There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.

STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card

Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil .

Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.

Open a business bank account

Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:

Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.

Open net 30 accounts

Net 30 accounts are used to establish and build business credit as well as increase business cash flow. With a net 30 account, businesses buy goods and repay the full balance within a 30-day term.

NetMany net 30 credit vendors report to the major business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business Credit). This is how businesses build business credit so they can qualify for credit cards and other lines of credit.

Recommended : Read our best net 30 vendors , guide and start building business credit.

Get a business credit card

Getting a business credit card helps you:

Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from Divvy and build your business credit quickly.

STEP 5: Set up business accounting

Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.

Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.

STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses

Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.

State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a forex trading business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits .

Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses .

For information about local licenses and permits:

Services Contract

FOREX trading businesses should require clients to sign a services agreement before starting a new project. This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, service level expectations, and intellectual property ownership.

Informed Consent Agreement

It is recommended to provide clients with informed consent agreements to decrease legal liability and encourage transparency.

STEP 7: Get business insurance

Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.

There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance . This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.

Learn more about General Liability Insurance .

Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance . If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.

Recommended: Learn what business insurance for your Currency Trading Business will cost.

Business Insurance for Currency Trading Business

STEP 8: Define your brand

Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.

If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners , we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.

Recommended : Get a logo using Truic's free logo Generator no email or sign up required, or use a Premium Logo Maker .

If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator . Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.

How to promote & market a currency trading business

If you are promoting your services to other brokers, the best way to advertise is through FOREX forums, newsletters, and alternative investing websites and newsletters. You can also buy pay-per-click advertisements and run solo ads. The important thing to remember is FOREX and currency trading is an alternative investment for many people. So, advertise in places where your target market is likely to be hanging out.

How to keep customers coming back

Attracting and keeping customers is simple. This is a very competitive industry, so keep your spreads lower than your competition. Constantly check market rate spreads as they change periodically.

Still unsure about what kind of business you want to start? Check out the latest Small Business Trends to help inspire you.

STEP 9: Create your business website

After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business .

While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.

Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:

Using our website building guides , the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.

Recommended : Get started today using our recommended website builder or check out our review of the Best Website Builders .

Other popular website builders are: WordPress , WIX , Weebly , Squarespace , and Shopify .

STEP 10: Set up your business phone system

Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.

There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.

Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com

Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.

Start a Currency Trading Business in your State

TRUiC's Startup Podcast

Welcome to the Startup Savant podcast , where we interview real startup founders at every stage of the entrepreneurial journey, from launch to scale.

Is this Business Right For You?

This business is ideal for individuals who love high-risk businesses. You must be willing to work long hours, be good with numbers, and be willing to learn about and understand various trading algorithms. You should also be passionate about world economies.

Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?

Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!

Entrepreneurship Quiz

What happens during a typical day at a currency trading business?

A currency trading business starts early. Traders start trading currencies as soon as a market opens. The FOREX market technically does not close, since it is global. However, markets in one part of the world do close. It's just that, when they do, another market opens for business. So, currency trading companies can theoretically work 24/7.

The day starts with a basic analysis of the markets, which includes current news stories, trends in the market, and an analysis of the company's own capital and trading positions. Any open positions are checked and any closed positions are accounted for.

The company's trading managers and representatives set their initial buy-in prices and stop-losses. They also check and monitor their margin or leverage. Leverage is often used in currency trading because currency price fluctuations are generally small. Leverage of 50:1 or 100:1 is not uncommon. This means a trader can control or trade $100 for every $1 of the company's own capital.

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful currency trading business?

You will need at least amateur-level knowledge of the currency markets. Working under a successful currency trader helps, but is not mandatory. There are no laws governing who can and cannot trade in the FOREX markets for business purposes. You will need proper licensing, however, if you want to become a broker or market-maker. You will also need cash reserves and a bond to guaranty your customers' funds.

What is the growth potential for a currency trading business?

Growth potential is unlimited. A currency trading company can be as small as one person or it can grow into a broker or market-maker, offering trading services to other people.

TRUiC's YouTube Channel

For fun informative videos about starting a business visit the TRUiC YouTube Channel or subscribe to view later.

Take the Next Step

Find a business mentor.

One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.

Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.

Learn from other business owners

Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.

Resources to Help Women in Business

There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:

If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.

What are some insider tips for jump starting a currency trading business?

Start with small lot sizes and keep sufficient cash reserves. Most traders only trade with 5%-10% of their total tradeable capital. They employ leverage to make significant gains.

How and when to build a team

Build a team only if you want to become a broker or market-maker in the industry. You will need a small team of professionals who are also skilled in currency trading, customer service, and web design. You should build out your team when you have enough money to do so. Most currency trading companies start small, as professional traders. Consider doing the same.

Get more ideas with our Business Ideas Generator .

Check out our How to Start a Business page.

Sign up at the Business Center to access useful tools for your business.

Useful Links

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Everything you need to know about Currency Exchange Business Model

Currency Exchange Business Model

Dashmeet Kaur | Updated: Apr 11, 2020 | Category: FFMC , RBI Advisory

In recent times, the Forex industry has flourished at a rapid pace in India. The currency exchange business model is a gateway to profit-making opportunities for budding entrepreneurs. Since the money changers play a vital role to thrive in the Indian economy, RBI has laid some stringent guidelines to monitor their functions. Further, the Reserve Bank of India authorizes a currency exchange business with FFMC License . Section 10 of the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999, mandates the FFMC License for any entity that wants to pursue money exchanging activities. 

If you also strive to start a currency exchange business, then this write-up will act as a complete guide for you.

Table of Contents

An overview of Full Fledged Money Changer- FFMC

A Full Fledged Money Changer abbreviated as FFMC is an RBI approved entity. Such business entities hold power to purchase foreign currency from the residents as well as non-residents of India, thereby sell it to those people who intend to visit abroad for private and business travel.  

All aspirants of currency exchange business model need to keep these specifications in mind prescribed under the Foreign Exchange Market Act, 1999:

Browse through our articles on services provided at Swarit Advisors , and just let us know if we can help you with your NBFC registration or NBFC for Sale or RBI Advisory Services.

Functions of Authorized Money Changer

Following are the activities undertaken by the registered AMCs:

Types of FFMC License

Types of FFMC License

Eligibility Criteria to acquire FFMC License

You are eligible for FFMC license if you have the following characteristics:

Dashmeet Kaur

Dashmeet Kaur is an experienced content writer, having proficiency in writing Legitimate content with comprehensive research. She also has a keen eye to detail and incorporating accurate facts.

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paresh davra

'I launched a foreign exchange business with no money'

Paresh Davdra started RationalFX in 2005 with just a laptop and phone, now he turns over £1.3bn. Here’s how he did it

What were the origins of RationalFX and why did you want to start the business?

My family came to the UK in 1972 with just £50. That was the amount of money they were permitted to bring with them from Uganda. I was born into an entrepreneurial family and, from a young age, I said I wanted to run my own business – I have always been very determined – but I didn’t know exactly what.

I graduated from university in 2004 with a degree in marketing and computer science. At 23, I got a job at a foreign exchange brokerage firm in the City of London. It became clear to me that the industry was ripe for a shakeup. The business I joined had no online platform, for example, and the process of transferring money was quite clunky. So after a year, my business partner Rajesh Agrawal [who was recently appointed deputy mayor of London for business by Sadiq Khan] and I decided to set up on our own.

Foreign exchange sounds like a complicated business to start. Was it?

No, not really – at least not at the time. We moved to Brighton and started with just a phone and a laptop, but no money at all. At the time, in 2005, the industry was not well regulated and the barriers to entry were low.

The hardest part was convincing a bank to provide us with foreign exchange at a wholesale rate so we could offer customers a good deal. We had to convince a finance provider that we were the real deal and could benefit it, despite the fact we were a startup with no reputation in the market.

But the service we offered was a win-win and not a threat to the bank’s business. We knew large banks don’t want to have to manage lots of small transactions, so it made sense for us to handle all the admin of these trades. Then they would just deal with us as one big customer.

So we weren’t taking trade away from them, but making life easier. We were offering to boost their business by acting as a trade aggregator. Despite this, we had a lot of meetings and were turned away many times before finally a bank agreed to work with us.

Is it still possible to start a business in this way today?

It’s possible, but it would be a lot harder. In 2005, the only regulator in our industry was HM Revenue and Customs and it essentially just wanted to know that we weren’t money laundering. The FSA [Financial Services Authority] – now the FCA [Financial Conduct Authority] – started regulating the industry in 2009, which means you now need a licence to open a foreign exchange business and the process is a lot more convoluted.

How did you improve on the existing market offering?

We had low overheads compared with the average bank, which obviously forked out for multiple premises, staff, utilities and other costs. So we could work on a low-margin, high-volume model, making lots of trades and taking a tiny slice of money each time. It’s a volume-driven business. The benefit was passed onto consumers in a better exchange rate.

How did you attract your first customers?

We got on the phone. We created a series of affiliate partnerships with companies that used foreign exchange. Take, for example, an estate agent in Spain selling holiday properties to Brits: their customers would pay for properties in euros and so would need to convert the money from pounds before paying. If the customer could do that cheaply, given that they would be converting a large amount of money, that would be a major benefit to both the estate agent, who could offer the service as a value-add, and the customer who would save money.

Being cheaper than our rivals was obviously important. We were so lean that we could keep our margins wafer-thin. But also we could give better communication about when the money would be arriving.

After the initial set-up phase, word of mouth became a big factor in the way our business grew. Even now, about 60% of our business comes from recommendations.

What does the business look like today?

Last year we grew 75% and turned over about £1.3bn. That equates to about £9.1m of revenue going into the business. We employ 100 people and are set to grow our turnover by 70%-80% again this year. Growth has been fast and we’re well placed to continue that in the future.

Is there anything you wish you had done differently?

I don’t have any regrets, but perhaps I need to take some time for mindfulness. I know that over the years I have become a little stressed and worried when things have got difficult but I think this is to do with ambition kicking in, not being satisfied and continually driving for bigger and better goals. There isn’t time to relax [as an entrepreneur], especially in the industry I am in. If you take your foot off the pedal, you pave the way for your competitors to get in front.

Has the UK’s decision to leave the EU affected your business?

We use our FCA licence [as a] passport into the EU, which allows us to service businesses and private customers there. Using that licence, we can also open bank accounts across Europe, so customers can make payments into them. We also employ a lot of people from Europe, particularly those with languages in our target markets.

There’s a chance this situation will change and the business will face challenges as a result. If so, we would consider a move to Dublin to continue with a licence that allows us to trade within the EU from there. This is a problem that many in our industry will be mulling over right now.

What’s your advice to fledgling entrepreneurs?

Be prepared to take risks. It’s part of what it takes to become successful, so you must commit and persevere. Don’t wait too long for the perfect opportunity to start your business, however, because you could be waiting forever.

When a good opportunity comes your way grab it with both hands. Don’t worry about being perfectly prepared because you’ll learn a lot along the way.

Sign up to become a member of the Guardian Small Business Network here for more advice, insight and best practice direct to your inbox.

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Wells Fargo & Company, WFBNA and their affiliates (collectively, “Wells Fargo”) conducts business globally. Outside the U.S. Wells Fargo & Co conducts business through various companies, including duly authorized and regulated subsidiaries and affiliates in Asia, Canada, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. All products and services may not be available in all countries. Each situation needs to be evaluated individually and is subject to local regulatory requirements.

Additional fees can include, but are not limited to, a fee for bank-initiated transactions, amendment fees, statement fees, and fees assessed by other financial institutions (“beneficiary and intermediary banks”). In addition to the wire transfer fee, Wells Fargo makes money when converting U.S. dollars to a foreign currency. Wells Fargo’s retail foreign exchange rates differ from other banks, foreign currency providers, and rates found elsewhere online. 

$10 minimum wire amount and maximum limits may apply.  Online wires sent internationally from personal accounts are not available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact Online Customer Service for details at 1-800-956-4442 .

Wells Fargo does not buy back all currencies; buy back rates differ from purchase rates. Wells Fargo only buys paper currency, not coins.

The market risk of a transaction may be accentuated by complex payout calculations or other features. Transactions with such features may be subject to significant changes in value as a result of relatively small changes in the price, value, or level of an underlier or other market factors. Such features include leverage, multipliers, option-like payouts, non-linear dependence on an underlying price, value, or level, or dependence on the path of an underlying price, value, or level. Transactions with such features may include caps, collars, floors, exotic options, transactions with knock-in or knock-out rights, or range accrual swaps and options.

“Underlier” means any rate (including interest and foreign exchange rates), currency, commodity, security, instrument of indebtedness, index, quantitative measure, occurrence or nonoccurrence of an event, or other financial or economic interest, or property of any kind, or any interest therein or based on the value thereof, in or by reference to which any payment or delivery under a transaction is to be made or determined.

Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. Member FDIC. Deposits held in non-U.S. branches are not FDIC insured.

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Foreign Exchange Trading Practices and Information

A Message to Morgan Stanley Wealth Management Clients Regarding Foreign Exchange

This letter is part of our ongoing effort to provide transparency to our clients on our business practices.  The contents of this letter are also available on the Morgan Stanley Wealth Management Disclosures page and may be updated from time to time. As we enter into transactions with you based upon a mutual understanding of the terms and conditions of our dealing, it is important that you read this letter to understand how we may trade in relation to your expressions of interest or orders (as applicable) in respect of, foreign currency spot and foreign currency deliverable forwards products in your foreign exchange account and the Global Currency product (collectively, “FX Transaction Requests”), and otherwise engage with you and others in the foreign exchange (“FX”) markets generally.  This includes our management of conflicts of interest that may exist or arise in our and/or our affiliates’ principal dealing and market making activities.  To the extent that you continue to enter into FX transactions with us, it will be on the basis that you have read and understood these terms. 

Morgan Stanley Wealth Management (“Wealth Management”)  is a global financial services and wealth management firm and may utilize the services of various institutional affiliates (collectively, “MS Affiliates” and collectively, MS Affiliates with Wealth Management, “Morgan Stanley”) in order to execute and fulfill clients’ FX Transaction Requests. Morgan Stanley is generally engaged in a broad spectrum of FX activities, (including with respect to   equity and fixed income securities that are denominated in a foreign currency) for a variety of purposes. An FX order on behalf of any of your Wealth Management accounts will generally be executed by Wealth Management as principal in a back-to-back trade with one or more of its various MS Affiliates (including, but not limited to Morgan Stanley Capital Services and Morgan Stanley International PLC).

Principal Trading and Market-Making

The FX markets are predominantly principal markets.  Thus, Morgan Stanley will typically face its clients as principal when executing trades resulting from FX Transaction Requests and does not generally act as an agent, broker or fiduciary with respect to market making activity.  Accordingly, Morgan Stanley may trade ahead of, alongside or following your transactions in order, for example, to execute other client transactions (including where such trading is on a systematic, automated basis through the use of algorithms or other execution methodologies); to hedge or source liquidity for market making purposes (either for your transaction or in connection with other client activity); to liquidate risk resulting from our client facilitation business; as part of a previously commenced strategy; or to facilitate the purchase and/or settlement of securities issued in debt offerings (including where we act as billing and delivery agent).  These activities and unrelated Morgan Stanley activity on a principal basis may impact whether we execute an FX Transaction Request with you or the prices (including reference prices) of your transactions and/or the time at which your transactions are executed; and may also trigger or delay, or prevent the trigger of, stop loss orders, or any other events which are dependent on market movements.  We employ reasonably designed means to minimize market impact and stand ready to discuss market pricing and execution levels with you at your request.  When we act with discretion in executing an order (for example, at “best,” or through an order worked over a period of time and subject to parameters we agree to with you), we are not, unless specifically agreed to with you, acting as your agent and such order is on a “not held” basis. Morgan Stanley may enter into transactions in the relevant or related instruments through internal sources of liquidity or in the market at different times and prices in order to execute your FX Transaction Request and offset the risk incurred, and ultimately provide you with an overall fill that takes into account these transactions. Unless we agree otherwise, the price of any transaction we execute with you may include what we believe to be a reasonable spread, as further described below under “Liquidity Sourcing” and “Pricing.”

We may choose to leave our principal position unhedged or partially hedged, and may adjust any hedge from time to time in our sole discretion. In order to unwind a hedge, we may need to unwind our principal position by trading in the relevant or related instruments. Regardless of whether or how we choose to hedge, any profit or loss resulting from any hedging activity will accrue solely to Morgan Stanley.   

When negotiating any particular FX Transaction Requests with us, you may ask that we not trade as a principal ahead of, or alongside, your transaction, or that we execute in a certain manner, such as through the use of algorithms.  Please note that such a request may limit the execution services we are able to offer you in any particular case.

Liquidity Sourcing

Morgan Stanley utilizes a number of internally developed tools designed to access both external and internal sources of liquidity in order for Morgan Stanley, as principal, to provide what we deem to be the most favorable bids and offers, and executions, reasonably available under the circumstances.  These tools may include algorithms, internalization engines and/or smart order routers that route full or partial FX Transaction Requests to various external liquidity sources, including certain trading venues that electronically provide information to us regarding their available and accessible liquidity. Morgan Stanley may benefit from reduced transaction costs when executing through certain internal or external trading venues and, if we have an investment in, or other relationship with, an external venue, the Firm may receive other benefits as a result of that interest. In addition, all or a portion of your transaction may be filled by internal sources of liquidity rather than external trading venues.  Either way, unless we agree otherwise, Morgan Stanley will trade in a principal capacity, and your execution levels may be inclusive of what we deem to be a reasonable spread above the price at which Morgan Stanley may transact, or has transacted, with other clients or trading counterparties, in addition to any disclosed fees that may be charged to access particular sources of liquidity.   

The price at which you trade with Wealth Management will depend on a number of factors, including those set out below.  This list is not exhaustive and Wealth Management may take into account other factors that it considers appropriate in determining that price.

A. When we execute FX Transaction Requests for you, a component of the price is compensation which may include a markup or markdown (trading spread) by our MS Affiliates in addition to the FX commission charged by your Financial Advisor (“FA”). In addition, to the extent we execute a trade with you through internal sources of liquidity, and that liquidity is sourced from another client, we may also receive additional compensation on, and fees for, the trade we execute with that other client which will be included in the spread charged to that client  

B.  The type of product, transaction and market in which the product would be traded, such as:

    (i) the manner in which your FA enters your order (e.g., electronic or voice trading platform);

    (ii) the trading venue through which Morgan Stanley uses (e.g., single dealer or third party electronic or voice trading platform);

    (iii) the type of FX Transaction Request (e.g., expression of interest or order, and terms of such request, including “stop loss,” “at best” or “limit”);

    (iv) the size, type and direction of the transaction; 

    (v) market conditions, including market events, volatility and time of execution;

    (vi) transparency of the market, including visible liquidity, trading volume and available external venues or platforms; 

    (vii) the amount of mark-up applied;

    (viii) the accessibility of third party quotations and other pricing information.

C.  Internal costs to Morgan Stanley, such as counterparty credit risk, hedging and market                 

risk, funding, capital and overhead; 

D.  Client-specific factors, such as:  the volume, types of trades and frequency/velocity of   trading the client executes both with Morgan Stanley and in the market; credit quality;   and potential market impact.

E.  Applicable regulatory requirements.

Order Management and Fulfillment

FX Transaction Requests may be submitted by your FA electronically or by voice or other traditional communication channels, and there is no guarantee that any FX Transaction Request will be filled, in whole or in part.  Orders submitted electronically are time stamped upon receipt by Wealth Management and voice orders that are not subject to immediate execution are time stamped when input into the order management system.  

In the case of either orders or expressions of interest, Morgan Stanley may utilize algorithms, smart order routers and technology which take into account a variety of factors (including, but not limited to, the applicable currency pair, the time zone/region in which an order is submitted, current market conditions, liquidity, order size, historically observed fill rates and other proprietary factors we determine to be relevant) and are designed to access external and/or internal sources of liquidity, in order to provide what we deem to be the fairest bids, offers and executions reasonably available under the circumstances.  

Spot foreign exchange orders that are submitted through your FA, which may include algorithmic order types such as volume-weighted-average-price and time-weighted-average-price orders, may be filled by Morgan Stanley accessing (1) external FX market centers (including but not limited to, trading platforms, inter-dealer brokers and 3rd party matching venues), (2) our internal market making desk as a liquidity provider, or (3) our internal Morgan Stanley matching engines.   

When we source liquidity internally as the operator of a matching mechanism, we only do so when the price of a trade will achieve executions at prices which we believe are comparable to those visible to us on external FX market centers.  These executions are subject to our pre-agreed fee.

Our receipt of a FX Transaction Request and any indication we provide to you that we are “working” on trade execution with you, is our indication that we are willing (but not obligated) to enter into all or a portion of a trade at the price requested by you, and we do not assume any market risk or legal obligation with respect to such FX Transaction Request until we have agreed to execute a trade with you. At and around the same time that we receive your FX Transaction Request, we may also be executing transactions in similar or related products as a result of our market making activities for other clients and to hedge our risk with respect to these products.  In light of this, it is at our discretion as to how we may satisfy your FX Transaction Request and our other market making activities, including as to timing, prioritization, aggregation and manner of execution, as well as the amount and price of your fill.  In all cases, our handling of these requests will be dependent on our ability to access liquidity (such as in the case of “market” or “at best” orders) or liquidity at the relevant or better price (such as in the case of “stop loss” or “limit” orders).  In addition, your transaction will likely include what we believe is a reasonable spread, as described above.  For “stop loss,” orders there is a risk, particularly in times of market volatility or stress, that your FX Transaction Request may be triggered in a manner or at a time that you do not expect, or at a level that may be worse than you requested.  Morgan Stanley reserves the right to retain all or part of any price improvements in the market, in light of the greater risk we take in executing both “stop loss” and “limit” FX Transaction Requests and this may also impact the amount of your fill.  For requests at “market,” any upside or downside fluctuations in the price at the time of execution may be passed on to you.  

Your FX Transaction Requests may also be subject to priorities and/or aggregation we determine in our discretion that may result in either Morgan Stanley’s own trades or other client trades being executed ahead of, or alongside, any trades we execute with you, which may impact the price of your transactions, the timing of execution and/or the amount of your fill.  There may also be inherent latencies at both internal and external venues that result in delays between the time we receive your requests and the time we execute trades resulting from such requests.   These latencies and our risk management practices may impact whether we execute transactions relating to all or a portion of your FX Transaction Requests and the price at which transactions are executed.  For example, we may determine whether there have been any intervening price moves, market disruptions or other unusual market conditions.  If we determine to execute, the costs or benefits of any price changes arising from these risk management practices may, in our discretion, be retained by us or passed on to you.  

Foreign exchange benchmark orders for the WM Reuters (“WMR”) fix may be submitted by voice or electronically and are executed at the benchmark price plus either (a) the published WMR bid/offer or (b) an agreed fee which in either case is embedded in the all-in rate that is communicated to you after the relevant fixing is published.

When negotiating any particular transaction with us, you may ask that we access or avoid specific sources of liquidity in the relevant market. Please note that our ability to facilitate such a request will vary, and may limit the execution services we are ultimately able to offer you in any particular case.

Client Information

Protecting the confidentiality and security of client information is an important part of how we conduct our business. Morgan Stanley also has policies and procedures to assist in the identification, prevention and management of conflicts of interest between Morgan Stanley and you, or between you and another Morgan Stanley client, that may arise in the course of your interactions with us.  In consideration of these conflict management policies and procedures, we may in certain circumstances disclose to you additional specific information regarding the source and nature of a particular conflict as well as the steps taken by us to mitigate such conflict. 

You should understand that Morgan Stanley makes use of economic information contained in FX Transaction Requests and executed transactions in order to effectuate and risk manage the transactions themselves, as well as for portfolio and inventory risk management purposes.  Specifically, and unless you instruct otherwise, Morgan Stanley may use the economic terms of a FX Transaction Request (but not the client identity) to test liquidity and/or execute trades with one or more third parties (including interdealer brokers) in order to source liquidity. We may also use the economic terms of various transactions (including market, liquidity and credit risks) on an individual, portfolio, or other basis to evaluate and execute risk-mitigating transactions. In addition, as part of its obligations as a regulated entity, Morgan Stanley also shares client information as requested or required by its global regulators.

With regard to executed FX transactions, Morgan Stanley analyzes this information on an individual and aggregate basis for a variety of purposes, including counterparty, portfolio and inventory risk management, sales coverage, and client relationship management.  In addition, Morgan Stanley may analyze, comment on and disseminate anonymized and aggregated information regarding executed FX transactions, as well as FX Transaction Requests that may be away from the current market, together with other available information regarding various markets, internally and to its clients as part of its general market commentary and trade ideas.  

Morgan Stanley is dedicated to upholding a high level of integrity and adhering to published industry best practices (such as those published by the Global Foreign Exchange Committee and other similar industry bodies) in our dealings with clients.  

This letter is meant to underscore Morgan Stanley’s commitment to providing clients transparency on our FX business practices. If you have questions after reading this letter or our dealings with you, we encourage you to contact a member of the Morgan Stanley team servicing your FX account. We also encourage you to review important regulatory and other disclosures in any agreements that pertain to your FX account at Morgan Stanley.

2020 Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC.  Member SIPC 

CRC #3113800 06/20 

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Corporate Treasury

Cash & liquidity management, treasurer spotlight, information.

Building a Currency Exchange Strategy for Your Business

Whether paying the expenses of a satellite office in Europe or purchasing goods in Asia for sale in Nebraska, currency volatility impacts the bottom line.

Not a believer? Check the news. Business page headlines have been replete with stories of companies missing their earnings targets because they’re facing unforeseen costs associated with currency rates. Luxury fashion label Burberry, wholesaler Costco and insurer AIG are all recent examples of companies impacted by currency markets. According to a study by FiREapps last year, this kind of exposure collectively cost multinationals US$4bn in one quarter alone .

The movements made by currencies can be attributed to a number of reasons. They include global unrest, central bank decisions, inflation, public debt, and the national economy’s performance. Instituting a currency exchange strategy is crucial for hedging risks and protecting profit, regardless of company size.

To begin this process, it’s important for treasurers and other financial professionals to select an experienced foreign exchange (FX) broker to be their currency strategy architect. There are many factors to consider, so working with a professional that has experience of building plans for companies of all sizes will save time and money, even for those individuals who intend to manage the plan themselves.

When searching for the best FX strategist, it’s prudent to avoid securing one at a bank. Banks can add anywhere from 3% to 10% to the current exchange rate and charge additional wire fees ranging from $100 to $125 or more depending on the institution. If the company is only transferring $1500, then a $150 bank fee doesn’t seem all that bad. However, for any business with a million dollar payroll, those ‘drop in the bucket’ fees can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Building a Strategy

Independent, specialised FX providers can offer treasury departments a leg up using advanced technology. Additionally, they can offer expertise that will help financial professionals to navigate the rough waters of the global markets for a fraction of the cost that banks would charge. These exchange professionals are solely focused on the currency markets and advise their clients daily on the best strategies to implement for their companies.

Once you’ve identified your currency specialist, let them be the architect of your currency strategy. Currency exchange is like a maths problem, having many different factors to consider before calculating final costs. Trade volume, market volatility and the currencies at play all contribute to the final tally.

Upon looking at a company’s cash flow history and projections, along with the currencies they’re planning on interacting with, the strategist will construct a plan that can minimise vulnerability and optimise currency trades. When treasurers are building a strategy, the topics to be discussed with their strategist include:

People who think to the future often prepare themselves and their families for worst case scenarios. That’s why they purchase insurance as protection against natural and man-made disasters, car accidents, and other unforeseen circumstances that could cause significant financial pain. Your company is no different. As corporates become steadily more exposed to a global economy, consider the cost savings for your business that can be achieved once a currency strategy is implemented.

Whitepapers & Resources

Banking 2021 transaction banking services survey, cgi transaction banking survey 2020, payments tis sanction screening survey report, payments enhancing your strategic position: digitalization in treasury, netting: an immersive guide to global reconciliation, get the latest analysis and reports delivered to your inbox daily, related articles, cash & liquidity management watch: managing risk with more sophisticated end-to-end workflows, cash & liquidity management from cash flow agility to green governance, banking maintaining cash flow agility for an evolving treasury function, cash management virtual accounts help businesses simplify cash management in the digital era, netting/pooling netting – the technique that never stops giving, says motorola treasurer, cash management working through the complexities of global money movement, cash management a treasurer’s perspective: the true cost of capital – mwacc investigated, accounts receivable reinventing reverse factoring for the era of esg, subscribe to the latest news & insights.


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