When should you consider using a currency exchange specialist?

When dealing with overseas assets such as property, shares and banks accounts, for instance, it can be a minefield knowing where to start. Instructing a reputable foreign lawyer in the country where the assets are held will almost certainly be a necessity. However, once you’ve instructed a foreign lawyer to handle the legalities it can be tempting to assume that they will manage everything efficiently and cost-effectively, including the financial side of things. But not all lawyers are clued up on the impact of currency exchange, especially if they do not regularly deal with international matters.

If you are handling any of the following transactions for yourself or as a lawyer acting on a client’s behalf, using a currency exchange provider can save you or your client thousands of pounds:

  • Buying a property overseas
  • Selling property overseas
  • Inheritance of foreign assets
  • Debt recovery where assets are located overseas
  • Acquisition of a foreign company
  • Making regular payments to a foreign account

Why is this? Because when it comes to transferring money between countries that use different currencies, the funds must be converted from one currency to the other. However, how to get the best exchange rate and the impact of currency exchange fluctuations are issues which are often not properly considered, which can inadvertently and unnecessarily cost several thousands of pounds.

The most cost-effective way to transfer funds between countries and currencies is to use a currency exchange specialist (also known as a currency broker, foreign exchange or Forex) rather than transferring the funds through the high street banks. This is because the bank’s exchange rates tend to be very uncompetitive and may also be accompanied by commission charges just to transfer the money overseas. Currency specialists, however, typically offer currency exchange rates that are 3-5 per cent better than high street banks meaning 3-5 per cent more of the funds will be preserved. For example, if you need to transfer the equivalent of £100,000, transferring the funds directly into your bank account and allowing the bank to convert the currency could cost up to £5000 more!

So, how do currency exchange companies save you money?

The reason that currency specialist companies are able to provide much better exchange rates than the banks is due to the volume of foreign currency transfers they make and the fact their sole aim as a business is to offer much better exchange rates compared to the banks. The currency markets change second by second but the banks often set their exchange rates at the start of the day. This means that banks have to build in a lot of ‘fat’ in to the rates offered to their customers to provide a large profit margin to cover them in case of adverse currency exchange fluctuations throughout the day. Currency brokers, however, offer exchange rates which are updated every second so they do not have to build in these high profit margins, unlike the banks, and can offer much more competitive rates.

Currency specialists can also advise you about the timing of the currency transfer and ‘fix’ rates to help you ensure the maximum amount of funds are received.  Using a recommended foreign exchange specialist is not only cost effective but also very time efficient. You can set up an account and send a payment within minutes. It is simply a case of transferring funds to a separate account where the money can be exchanged, and the relevant currency forwarded on to the desired account.

It is however recommended to contact a currency specialist as soon as you know you will need to make or receive an overseas payment as a good currency specialist will also be able to advise you regarding the timing of the transfer to help you get the most from your money. A good currency specialist will also be happy just to give you some information about how they can help.

The service provided by currency exchange specialists are usually free but can save a significant amount! 


Example 1 – repatriating foreign funds from an estate with overseas assets 

You are dealing with an estate where there are shares in a German company worth €200,000. You are based in the UK and need to receive the funds into your (or your UK client’s account). You will therefore need to convert your €200,000 into Pounds Sterling.

High Street Bank Rate Currency Specialist Rate
€200,000 @ £1.15 €200,000 @ £1.12
Amount received in £ £173,913.04 £178,571.43

By using a currency specialist instead of a bank, you or your client would have received £4,658.39* more!

It is recommended that anyone repatriating foreign assets or arranging to transfer money to or from abroad, contacts a currency specialist rather than risk leaving the transfer to the bank. A good currency specialist will be happy to give you some no-obligation information about the best way to deal with the currency exchange and how they can help you save money.


Example 2 – transferring funds for a property sale in Spain 

You or your client is selling a property in Spain for €150,000 but the funds will be received in Euros and you/they want to transfer the funds back to the UK, so the €150,000 will need to be converted into Pounds Sterling first.

High Street Bank Rate Currency Specialist Rate
€150,000 @ £1.15 €150,000 @ £1.12
Amount received in £ £130,434.78 £133,928.57

By using a bank instead of a currency specialist, you or your client would have lost £3,494.79* from the property purchase price.


Example 3 – buying a business in Australia 

You or your client based in the UK is buying a business in Australia valued at $1,000,000 AUD. The funds for the business purchase are held in Pounds Sterling but will need to be converted into Australian dollars before completing the acquisition.

High Street Bank Rate Currency Specialist Rate
$1,000,000 @ £0.59 $1,000,000 @ £0.57
Total cost in £ £590,000 £570,000

By using a currency specialist rather than transferring funds for the business acquisition it would save you or your client £20,000*.

*Exchange rates are subject to change.

As set out in the examples above, a small amount of research and planning can make a vast difference to the amount of money actually received and can add a considerable amount of value.

Currency exchange specialists help individuals, businesses and law firms save money on their overseas money transfers. As a lawyer, by helping your clients send or receive payments in the most cost-effective way, you can often save them more than the cost of your fees, adding real additional value for your clients!


For details of a recommended currency exchange specialist and to discuss how they can assist you and your clients, please get in touch with Worldwide Lawyers on 01244 470339 or email us at info@worldwidelawyers.co.uk 

All Currency Exchange Specialists recommended by Worldwide Lawyers are registered and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority as well as fully regulated by HMRC and protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Worldwide Lawyers can also assist should you require details of a recommended foreign lawyer to assist you in dealing with legal aspects of your international matter.