Navigating currency risk: 2 case studies on harnessing FX options for Swiss Franc stability Navigating currency risk: 2 case studies on harnessing FX options for Swiss Franc stability Navigating currency risk: 2 case studies on harnessing FX options for Swiss Franc stability

Navigating currency risk: 2 case studies on harnessing FX options for Swiss Franc stability

Options 10 minutes to read
Koen Hoorelbeke

Options Strategist

Summary:  Explore the practical application of FX options for mitigating currency risk through two detailed case studies, highlighting strategies to protect USD assets and secure EUR mortgage payments amidst Swiss Franc volatility.

Options are complex, high-risk products and require knowledge, investment experience and, in many applications, high risk acceptance. We recommend that before you invest in options, you inform yourself well about the operation and risks.

Navigating currency risk: 2 case studies on harnessing FX options for Swiss Franc stability

Amidst the ebb and flow of the global economy, currency exposure stands as a prominent challenge for investors and borrowers alike. The Swiss Franc, a symbol of fiscal stability, often plays a central role in this financial narrative. This article extends the dialogue from our recent webinar to present two compelling case studies on using FX options to manage exposure involving the Swiss Franc. Through these real-world examples, we uncover the intricacies of protecting USD-denominated assets and securing EUR mortgage payments, offering actionable insights into the strategic use of FX options against currency volatility. 

At the end of the article, we have included the complete webinar for your convenience. The webinar begins with a foundational discussion on currency risks and essential concepts related to FX options, offering a well-rounded educational experience. With captions available in English, German, French, and Dutch (courtesy of machine translation) we strive to accommodate a diverse array of viewers.

Important note: the strategies and examples provided in this article are purely for educational purposes. They are intended to assist in shaping your thought process and should not be replicated or implemented without careful consideration. Every investor or trader must conduct their own due diligence and take into account their unique financial situation, risk tolerance, and investment objectives before making any decisions. Remember, investing in the stock market carries risk, and it's crucial to make informed decisions.

Case study analysis 1: protecting USD denominated assets

Understanding Currency Exposure: USD/CHF Exchange Rate Fluctuations

The slide above provides a visual representation of the risks associated with holding USD-denominated assets in the face of fluctuating exchange rates. It illustrates a typical scenario faced by investors:

Starting with a Swiss Franc portfolio valued at CHF 100,000, an investor looking to diversify or invest in U.S. assets converts their holdings to USD when the USD/CHF exchange rate stands at 0.8778. This results in a total of USD 113,921.

However, currency values are subject to change due to a variety of economic factors, and in this case, we see the USD/CHF rate fall to 0.8200. Such a decline reflects a situation where the Swiss Franc appreciates against the U.S. Dollar, or conversely, the Dollar depreciates against the Franc.

When the investor chooses to convert their funds back to CHF, the devalued dollar yields significantly less than the initial investment, with the conversion now amounting to only CHF 93,415. This is a clear depiction of currency risk: the reduction in value merely due to exchange rate movements results in a tangible loss for the investor, as the account value dips below the initial CHF 100,000 mark.

The example set in this slide underscores why investors are keen on protecting their assets against such currency risks. In subsequent sections, we will explore how FX options can serve as a hedge to safeguard the value of an investment portfolio from these adverse movements.

Implementing Hedging Strategies with FX Options

Figure 2 illustrates a hedging strategy using FX options to protect the investor's portfolio against a potential decline in the value of the USD relative to the Swiss Franc. The slide walks through the mechanics of buying a put option—a contract that grants the investor the right, but not the obligation, to sell USD at a predetermined rate (the strike price), regardless of the current market rate.

In our example, the investor uses a put option to ensure they can still convert USD 113,921 back into Swiss Francs at the favorable rate of 0.8780, despite the market rate falling to 0.8200. This option effectively allows the investor to 'lock-in' a conversion value of CHF 100,023, circumventing the devaluation that would occur if the USD were sold at the current depreciated market rate.

The financial impact of this option is twofold. Firstly, it protects the investor's portfolio from the exchange rate drop, as they can realize a conversion back into CHF that is very close to the initial value of their investment. Secondly, the cost of this protection—CHF 1,565.27 for the put option—must be considered. When this premium is deducted, the net value secured by the investor is CHF 98,458, significantly higher than the CHF 93,415 they would have received without using the FX option.

This strategic application of a put option showcases the tangible benefits of FX options for managing currency exposure. It highlights how an initial outlay for an option can preserve investment value and provides a clear advantage compared to a passive approach to currency risk management.

By comparing the protected versus unprotected scenarios, we can quantify the benefit provided by the put option. The difference of CHF 5,043 represents the value added by the option when compared to the unprotected scenario. This concrete example underscores the protective power of FX options in the realm of currency risk.

Case study analysis 2: securing EUR mortgage amount

Managing Mortgage Payments in Foreign Currency

Figure 3 addresses the challenges faced by individuals with foreign currency mortgages, particularly in euros, and the strategies to manage them effectively using FX options.

In this case study, we examine the situation of a person with a monthly mortgage of €2,500, which for the sake of simplicity, we aggregate to a quarterly payment of €7,500. The individual faces currency risk as the mortgage payments are subject to the fluctuating EUR/CHF exchange rate. At the current rate of 0.9610, the quarterly payment translates to CHF 7,207. This becomes our baseline for comparison.

The risk of currency fluctuation becomes evident when considering potential movements in the EUR/CHF exchange rate. If the rate declines to 0.9250, there is a benefit as the CHF cost of the mortgage payment decreases to CHF 6,938. Conversely, if the rate rises to 0.9900, the CHF cost increases to CHF 7,425, representing a significant cost escalation for the mortgage payer.

The core of this case study is the strategic use of FX options to ‘insure’ against the unfavorable scenario where the EUR/CHF rate increases. By doing so, the individual can protect themselves from the risk of rising mortgage payments due to unfavorable currency rate movements.

The decisions made here can have a substantial impact on personal finances, highlighting the importance of understanding and using financial instruments to mitigate currency risk. In the following sections, we will explore the specific use of FX options to hedge against this risk and secure a favorable mortgage payment plan in Swiss Francs, despite the volatility in the EUR/CHF exchange rate.

Charting the Course: Technical Analysis for Currency Hedging

Figure 4 illustrates a technical analysis of the EUR/CHF exchange rate, which is crucial for individuals looking to secure their mortgage payments against currency risk. The chart captures the exchange rate movement over a period, showing both the historical trends and potential future directions.

The visual analysis begins with the exchange rate at 0.9610, marked as the starting point for this case study. It's at this rate that the individual plans their mortgage payments. However, the chart indicates that the exchange rate is prone to fluctuation, which can lead to either beneficial reductions or costly increases in mortgage payments when converted to Swiss Francs.

Highlighted in the chart are potential forecast points. These points suggest where the exchange rate might head in the upcoming months—information that can be pivotal when deciding on purchasing FX options.

If the exchange rate trends upwards past the current rate, as indicated by the forecast, it could result in an increased cost of mortgage payments. This is where the individual would benefit from securing a call option. By purchasing a call option at the current exchange rate (0.9610), they can 'lock in' this rate for future payments, irrespective of upward market fluctuations.

This graph serves as an analytical tool, aiding the individual in making an informed decision about when to purchase the call option. It demonstrates the importance of technical analysis in currency hedging, ensuring individuals are equipped with the best possible information to mitigate their currency risk.

The next section will delve into how the individual utilizes this information to determine the exact timing and strike price for the FX option, crafting a tailored approach to their specific financial needs.

Securing a EUR Mortgage Against Rising CHF Costs

Figure 5 provides a strategy for managing the currency risk associated with a EUR mortgage in the context of a rising EUR/CHF exchange rate, which can increase the CHF cost of repaying the mortgage. This slide presents the utilization of a call option as a financial safeguard for consistent mortgage payments.

An individual faces a quarterly mortgage obligation of €7,500. With the current exchange rate at 0.9610, this translates to CHF 7,207. To protect against the risk of the EUR/CHF rate increasing, the individual opts to buy a call option. This option grants them the right to exchange euros at a fixed rate of 0.9610 CHF per euro, up until the option's expiry date.

On the expiration date (05-Jun-2024 in this scenario), if the EUR/CHF rate has risen to 0.9900, the cost of the mortgage payment would normally increase to CHF 7,425. However, by exercising the call option, the individual can execute the currency exchange at the predetermined rate of 0.9610, thereby maintaining the payment at CHF 7,207.

The net savings would be:
CHF 7,425.- (cost of paying €7,500.- at a rate of 0.99)
minus 7,207.- (€7,500.- at a rate of 0.9610, the strike of the call option)
minus CHF 50 (the cost of the option)
= CHF 168.-

This results in a net saving of CHF 168 (over a period of 3 months), demonstrating the financial benefit of using an FX option to hedge against unfavorable exchange rate movements.

The approach highlighted in Figure 4 illustrates the practical application of FX options in stabilizing mortgage payments against the volatility of currency exchange rates, ensuring predictability and cost-effectiveness in personal financial planning.

Concluding Thoughts

Our examination of the two case studies provides a practical look at the role of FX options in managing currency risk. These tools offer a methodical approach to safeguarding the value of international investments.

In the first case study, the use of a put option offered a safety net for an investor’s USD assets against a drop in the USD/CHF exchange rate. The option's strategic use protected the portfolio from a decline in value, ensuring a more secure position in Swiss Francs.

The second case study focused on a call option to manage the risk of rising costs in EUR mortgage payments. This approach helped lock in a stable conversion rate from Swiss Francs to Euros, offering predictability despite market volatility.

The key takeaway from these scenarios is that FX options can be a reliable resource for individuals and investors looking to mitigate the potential downsides of currency fluctuations. They provide a way to navigate financial markets with an added layer of security.

In addition to the insights shared in this article, we have included the complete webinar within this page, for your convenience. The webinar begins with a foundational discussion on currency risks and essential concepts related to FX options, offering a well-rounded educational experience. With captions available in English, German, French, and Dutch (captions are machine generated) we strive to accommodate a diverse array of viewers. We encourage you to explore the webinar for a more in-depth understanding of the practical applications and benefits of using FX options in managing currency exposure.

For continuous insights and updates on market/options strategies, interact with me/follow my social media account on Threads.

Previous episodes of the "Saxo Options Talk" podcast

Previous "Volatility reports": 

Previous "Investing with options" articles: 

Previous "What are your options" articles: 

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