CURRENCY WATCH: The best bets for April

United Kingdom

Currency Index look back at exchange rates in March, and the headlines likely to be affecting rates in April for buyers of overseas property.

In contrast to the first 3 months of the year, March saw the Pound finish higher against all major currencies,  good news for buyers of overseas property. Some tentative signs of recovery in the UK have helped sterling, while new fears over government debt in Europe (Spain specifically) and structural problems in the US, have kept other currencies weaker.

In March, the most improved exchange rate was GBP-AUD, with the Australian Dollar over 4% cheaper at the end of the month. The Aussie has remained very strong over recent history, so this will come as some respite for Brits looking to emigrate to Australia.

The South African Rand and New Zealand Dollar rates also posted impressive improvements.

For the mainstream US Dollar and Euro, we have seen modest improvements in rates, and a relatively stable month with the Euro rate only varying (from high to low) 1.53% in March, compared with 2.75% in February.

Exchange Rate Movement against sterling, March 2012

Overseas property buyers should be aware of key events coming up in April which are likely to affect exchange rates and therefore their overseas property prices:

• Ongoing: stability or not for the Eurozone – is Spain the next Greece?
• Thursday 5th: Bank of England monthly policy announcement
• Thursday 12th: Trade balance
• Tuesday 17th: CPI inflation
• Wednesday 18th: Bank of England minutes
• Friday 20th: Retail sales
• Wednesday 25th: GDP

For comment and analysis on any of the above, please contact Currency Index or see our blog which is updated throughout the month:
Applying the exchange rate change to recent changes in local property markets around the world reveals the real change in cost to British buyers of property around the world.

The cost of overseas property for British buyers has again fallen in real terms in many overseas markets. A property in Portugal is now nearly 4% cheaper for example, due to recent falling local prices combined with a better exchange rate.

The recently-reported plummet in Spanish property prices will likely filter through to next month’s Currency Watch and we would expect to see the overall cost for UK buyers, particularly in Europe, to become even more attractive just as the traditional season for Brits buying in the sun picks up pace. Happy bargain hunting!

Data: Currency Index Mar  ’12 /  Global Property Guide Q4 2011

David vs Goliath? Is biggest always best when it comes to sending money abroad?

United Kingdom

As timeless as the Biblical tale of David and Goliath, many people still believe that larger foreign exchange companies will be better placed to provide competitive exchange rates than smaller competitors – but is that really true?

Robin Haynes, MD of Currency Index founded in 2008, examines whether biggest is always best when it comes to sending money abroad and highlights other differences in the marketplace that clients should watch out for:

1. Getting the best exchange rates

The foreign exchange market is extremely competitive, and has high ‘liquidity’ – meaning it is possible for currency companies to source rates from the market at very small margins. In practice, this means that any company trading in excess of a couple of million pounds per month, is effectively able to buy currency at very similar rates to one trading tens of millions or more per month.

For an individual or a business using a broker, that means, perhaps surprisingly, that often the rates offered by a seemingly smaller company will be just as good as those available from one of the market leaders. In fact, due to lower overheads, you can often obtain a better rate from a more boutique company, so it is always worth checking.

2. Customer Service

Smaller companies in any industry, by and large, will be more attentive to individual clients; as an example try calling your bank or mobile phone company and see whether you can get any level of decent personal service. The same can be said of a smaller currency company, with perhaps tens of employees instead of hundreds, as an individual account manager will take the time to get to know you as a client and work with your exact requirements.

This in turn can save you money, because you are more likely to be kept informed of market movement and the different options available for buying your currency. In addition, you may find your payment is sent more quickly, particularly if it is urgent, because a smaller company could me more flexible and able to accommodate your requirements.

3. Security

Any currency company which is FSA Authorised is obliged to operate safeguarded client accounts and hold a minimum amount of capital in the business. Therefore, there should be no difference in security of funds, whichever company you use for your international transfers. A quick check on the FSA website will tell you if a company you are using is Authorised (note – if a company is Registered but not Authorised then these safeguards are not obligatory).


The Acid Test

Putting the theory that biggest isn’t always best to test, a mystery shopper contacted three of the largest FX companies as well as Currency Index looking to purchase €150,000 to fund a home purchase in Spain. Below reveals the indicative rate she was offered at midday on 14th March 2012:

Commenting on the results, Haynes says:

“When considering buying currency, clients should research which currency company to use by speaking to a couple of reputable brokers, big or small, and ensure they are comfortable dealing with a particular individual and firm. Our Acid Test results show that it can also pay to make sure you don’t assume that bigger is necessarily better and to watch out for any additional fees or transaction charges.”

For more information about exchange rates and buying currency, contact Robin at Currency Index on 0800 043 2623 or visit

Currency Index: Fast Facts

• OPP award-winning foreign exchange and currency service provider.
• Formed in 2008 by industry experts, Currency Index prides itself on providing individuals and businesses with a superior foreign exchange service and competitive exchange rates.
• Currency Index handles around £75m per year in client transactions making it a medium sized FX company
• Trust, transparency and professionalism are at the core of Currency Index with the company becoming one of the first currency brokers to become an Authorised Payment Institution under FSA regulations in 2009.
• Currency Index only employs the most experienced and knowledgeable staff to assist clients be they overseas property buyers, importers, exporters and any other company or individual looking to obtain money-saving exchange rates.

60 Second Interview: Robin Haynes, Currency Index

United Kingdom

1. What does it say on your business card?

Managing Director, having founded Currency Index with 3 colleagues back in 2008.

2. What does your role involve?

Keeping Currency Index running smoothly, getting our brand out there and making people aware of the great service & rates available both for clients and referring agents. And of course working with the team, our clients and agents every day to improve what we do and find new ways of bringing in business.

3. How has currency exchange changed over the past 12 months?

We operate in a competitive market which is increasingly maturing but as more people become aware of currency brokers as a safe and cost-effective alternative to the banks, there are always new clients out there who can take advantage of our service – whether they are businesses importing/exporting, individuals buying overseas property or emigrating, expat workers sending income back to the UK, couples getting married abroad… there will always be a need for currency transfers.

4. What impact has the current eurozone crisis had on foreign exchange?

People have been concerned, but that’s been outweighed by the cheaper Euro which, combined with falling prices, has made buying holiday homes in Europe perhaps more affordable than ever before. For businesses sending payments abroad they are usually settling invoices and would probably say it’s not their problem!

5. What should people watch out for when sending money overseas?

Poor exchange rates, slow bank service and high charges – all can be avoided by using a currency broker. Also, lack of planning can lead to panic buying at the last minute – again, this can easily be avoided by looking at currency requirements early in the process.

6. What make Currency Index different to other FX brokers?

Our unbeatable service levels, as recognised by our OPP Award, and the way we engage with agents who refer clients to us – I don’t believe any other broker goes as far as us to add value to their partners’ businesses. Our medium size in the marketplace allows us to offer the very best personal service associated with smaller companies, but combined with the rates and processing power of larger competitors.

For more information and advice on currency transfers contact Currency Index today on 0800 043 2623 or visit

Currency Watch – Greece, Portugal & Spain are best bets for property in March

United Kingdom

MARCH 2012

Currency Index look back at exchange rates in February, and the headlines likely to be affecting rates in March for buyers of overseas property.

February saw the Pound finish the month lower against all major currencies except the US Dollar, where rates improved by 1.08%. The EU bailout of Greece was the main news theme, with austerity measures being passed by the Greek parliament, and relative stability in the Eurozone being the outcome, giving a slightly stronger (more expensive) Euro.

The South African Rand was the most volatile currency, with a range of nearly 4% during February, while the Canadian Dollar was the most stable rate.

The South African Rand also showed the biggest increase in cost, with a Pound going over 3% further at the beginning of February compared to at the end of the month.
Overseas property buyers should be aware of key events coming up in March which are likely to affect exchange rates and therefore their overseas property prices:


• Ongoing: stability or not for the Eurozone after Greek bailout agreed?
• Tuesday 6th: Eurozone GDP (Q4 2011)
• Thursday 8th: UK Quantitative Easing decision
• Friday 9th: US unemployment & non-farm payrolls
• Tuesday 13th: US retail sales
• Wednesday 21st: Bank of England minutes
• Tuesday 27th: UK GDP (Q4 2011 third reading)


For comment and analysis on any of the above, please contact Currency Index.
Applying the exchange rate change to recent changes in local property markets around the world reveals the real change in cost to British buyers of property around the world.
For example a British cash buyer can now pick up a bargain in Greece for nearly 5% less than in recent months, or a saving of over £8,000 on a property which was on the market for €200,000. The countries where emigrating or buying overseas are becoming significantly more expensive, are New Zealand and South Africa, due to local increases in property prices. Brits will be pleased to know that the traditional favourite locations of Greece, Portugal, Spain and the USA have all reduced in price recently, despite exchange rates generally failing to improve further in February.

Data: Currency Index Feb ’12 /  Global Property Guide Q4 2011

Don’t use your bank and 6 other simple rules to make your property purchase easier, cheaper and safer

United Kingdom

When buying property abroad, usually one of the necessary obstacles is the exchange of a large amount of currency needed to pay for your purchase.

Many people buying abroad still neglect to think about currency exchange until it is too late, and end up paying more than they need to, with added stress levels too. This simple guide from Currency Index will help buyers to get a good deal while remaining safe, and reduce the hassle that can be involved.

1. Think about currency early in the process

Not many people would buy a property in the UK without knowing the price. But, if you go on a viewing trip and put down a deposit without investigating the exchange rate, that’s exactly what you are doing when buying abroad! Before you start to look at property priced in a currency other than sterling, have a look at exchange rates and set yourself a reasonable rate for your calculations. It is better to be pessimistic with your exchange rate, so that when the time comes to transfer funds, you should be under your budget rather than over. A reputable currency company will help you to budget sensibly.

2. Don’t use your bank – you could pay 4% more

Banks’ exchange rates vary wildly. Some are reasonable, some are awful, and there are variations within each bank depending on who you end up talking to when you get a rate. Generally, the banks are not competitive on rate and rely on consumers assuming that exchange rates are fixed in stone. They are not. By comparing with a currency broker such as Currency Index, you can save up to 4% just on the exchange rate. That’s a huge difference of around £5,000 on a €150,000 transfer.

3. Consider fixing your rate in advance

Another service offered by currency companies, is a tool called a Forward Contract. This allows buyers of overseas property to fix an exchange rate in advance, for a payment in the future. The beauty of a forward contract is that only 10% of the sterling is needed to secure a rate, the balance being due when the foreign currency is required. That way, buyers can know exactly what they will be paying in sterling, without actually paying for their currency. Of course, if fixed when exchange rates are good, this can save a significant amount compared to waiting and buying currency at the last minute when rates may have fallen.

4. Allow enough time for your transfers

Another mistake many people make is transferring funds at the last minute for their purchase. Typically this is a problem when using banks to make a transfer, as they are notoriously slow at processing international payments (the average bank clerk has little or no experience in this area). There are also different clearing times abroad in different countries and currencies, so by liaising with a dedicated point of contact at a currency company, you can ensure you are correctly advised on transfer times to get money to the right place, at the right time. Currency brokers will typically send funds 1-3 days quicker than a high street bank, and can provide all the necessary paperwork for you and your lawyer.

5. Avoid paying unnecessary charges

When dealing with foreign banks, it pays to make sure you are not subjected to any hidden charges. For example, in Spain, it is common for banks to charge up to 0.5% of an incoming transfer, just as a fee for receiving it! When sending large amounts this can be punitive. Fortunately, again using a foreign exchange specialist, in most cases the charges can be avoided. Currency companies are experienced in sending payments all over the world and will be able to help you avoid falling foul of charges you might not have even known about. In addition, they will also be able to reduce or eliminate charges in the UK, where banks can demand up to £40 for sending an international payment.

6. Shop around

Many foreign property agents recommend a particular currency company to their clients. There is often a commission payment involved here, and realistically that means the client may not be getting the best possible rate. While a recommended company may seem comfortable, it is worth making one free call to an alternative supplier such as Currency Index to see if you can get a better deal.

7. Be safe

The independent currency transfer industry is now FSA-regulated – but not all companies are regulated to the same standard. In practice, it is safest to use an “Authorised Payment Institution”, as defined on the FSA’s website (under “Payment Service Companies” on the FSA register). Crucially, this means your funds must be held in safeguarded client accounts while with the broker (much like holding money with a lawyer), and that the firm has sufficient capital to meet strict requirements, as well as being run without risky practices. The lower level of FSA registration, “Smaller Payment Institution”, does not guarantee these safeguards, so check on the FSA website before you agree to part with any money. Currency Index was one of the first firms to be granted “Authorised Payment Institution” status when the regulation was introduced in 2009.

Following these simple 7 rules will mean that your overseas property purchase can run more smoothly, cheaply and safely than if you leave your currency transfers to chance. Currency Index’s experienced and friendly staff are available to discuss clients’ requirements without any cost or obligation. For more information call 0800 043 2623 or visit for more information.

Greece leaves British property buyers in the dark over exchange rates


As the Greek government finally voted to accept crushing austerity measures yesterday by a majority of 2 to 1 MPs, Robin Haynes, MD of FSA regulated and award-winning Currency Index asks what this means for exchange rates for British buyers of European property?

“The weaker Euro since the crisis escalated in November, has given Brits buying in Europe the best exchange rates since October 2010. A Pound now goes nearly 8% further than it did last summer, and with real estate prices continuing to drop across Europe, overseas property is now as cheap as it has been for many years. With the Eurozone crisis rolling on, Greece must work to accept its bailout package by March 20th to avoid defaulting on its debts.

“The Euro is expected to strengthen once the bailout is finally completed. This is because there will be, temporarily at least, stability in the debt markets, with Greece able to refinance its loans and therefore likely to stay in the Eurozone. The Euro will once again be seen as a safer currency with disaster averted, and if investors buy Euros, the price will rise giving lower exchange rates for buying the single currency.

“The short term outlook is a little harder to predict, giving mixed signals for people looking to exchange sterling to Euros, due to ongoing unrest in Greece and worries that the austerity measures may not actually be implemented. The EU and IMF have had enough of broken promises and funds will only be released to Greece when there is clear commitment to implementing the measures.

“While nobody wants to see riots in Athens, instability in the fragile political and economic environment in Greece may give further weakness in the Euro, and we could therefore see a short term spike in Euro exchange rates which buyers can take advantage of before the situation is resolved and, presumably, the bailout goes ahead.

“Eurozone finance ministers meet on Wednesday, by which time the fragile ruling coalition must say how €325m of the €3.3bn in budget savings will be achieved. Brussels also wants written commitments that the terms of the deal will be implemented, even after an election pencilled in for April.

“With this in mind, many buyers of overseas property are currently looking to fix an exchange rate in advance. This can be achieved by using a Forward Contract from a reputable currency broker, and guarantees a rate now for a transfer up to 2 years in the future, so that once the Greek problems are resolved, the sterling cost of a property elsewhere in Europe cannot increase due to a strengthening Euro.”

For more information on currency exchange and Forward Contracts contact Currency Index today on 0800 043 2623 or visit


“QE not good news for overseas property buyers.” Expert commentary from Currency Index

United Kingdom

Robin Haynes, MD of FSA regulated and award-winning Currency Index, offers his expert comment on today’s quantitative easing by the Bank of England:

“The Bank of England’s £50bn extension to its quantitative easing (QE) programme today is not good news for overseas property buyers. Injecting more money into the economy has the effect of diluting sterling, and the Pound tends to suffer, giving us lower exchange rates for sending money abroad.

“Sterling is particularly vulnerable at the moment, since the underlying UK economy is still weak – for example we saw negative growth in the last quarter of 2011. Exchange rates have been propped up by weakness in other economies, particularly in the Eurozone, where the single currency has been struggling as the sovereign debt crisis rolls on.

“So while the recent problems in Europe and also in the USA have given overseas property buyers better exchange rates than they might expect, many clients are now locking in their rates using forward contracts, to make sure they are not exposed to a depreciating Pound in the coming months. Currently, rates for buying Euros are nearly 8% better than in July 2011, and for US dollars, over 3% better than a month ago.

“As a note of caution, a year ago when Euro rates were up at 1.20, the Pound quickly fell back, losing over 8% by the summer and giving overseas property buyers a serious headache. Fixing exchange rates in advance is easy with a reputable currency broker, and can save a small fortune.

“We may well see more QE in the coming months if the Bank of England thinks it will help the economy, and that is not a recipe for a strong Pound as the year rolls on.”

For further insight and commentary contact Robin Haynes at Currency Index on 0800 043 2623 or visit

Spain still reigns for FX but transactions back to the UK rise to nearly a fifth

United Kingdom

Whilst Spain remains the most popular destination in terms of volume of currency transactions in 2011, interestingly, the UK takes second place with 18% of transactions according to the latest data compiled by FX specialist, Currency Index.

Almost a quarter of all FX transactions in 2011 (24.99%) were sent to Spain, unsurprising given the country’s appeal as a top holiday and second home destination. However, while France took the third spot with 14.83% of all transactions followed by the US in fourth place at 9.01%, one of the most surprising results was the volume of transactions sent to the UK last year.

Robin Haynes, MD of award-winning Currency Index explains,

“18.10% of FX transactions, nearly a fifth, last year were made back to the UK. This is most likely a result of people returning home from overseas or in a few cases sending currency to UK-based Euro/USD accounts for example, which can be overseas properties where a lawyer’s client account is in the UK for example. In addition, part of these transactions will be business clients repatriating income and also individuals earning money abroad.  It really is a mixed bag but of note none the less.

“In Q4 2011, there was a 15% increase in people bringing money back to the UK probably due to the Euro crisis which sparked panic and saw people moving money back to locations seen as safe havens.”

Indeed, the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis has caused fear to spread but for those considering buying property abroad, the reduction of the value of the single currency means that now is in fact one of the cheapest times to buy a place in the sun.

Haynes comments,

“There is a lot of confusion and scaremongering going on in the Euro at the moment but in spite of this, overseas property buyers should rest assured that the single currency devaluation will mean that they will currently be able get over 8% more for their money than if they were buying Euros in July last year.

For more information on currency exchange contact the experts at Currency Index on 0800 043 2623 or visit



United Kingdom

Robin Haynes, MD of Award-winning Currency Index looks back at exchange rates in January 2012 and the headlines likely to be affecting rates in February for buyers of overseas property.

For buyers of property in the Eurozone, the ongoing sovereign debt crisis has provided the best exchange rates since October 2010, with the Euro exchange rate improving 0.85% in January after a strong improvement towards the end of 2011. The only currency rate to gain more than the Euro was the US Dollar, where rates improved 1.72% in January.

Elsewhere the underlying weakness of sterling was evident, as the Pound lost ground in January against the New Zealand Dollar (4.44%), South African Rand (1.89%) and Australian Dollar (2.18%). Investors have been switching funds to these currencies during uncertain times, increasing demand and therefore reducing the exchange rate – not great news for people emigrating further afield.

With UK economic growth falling back into negative territory, an impending recession is unlikely to help the Pound’s cause in the coming months either.

The Currency Index Volatility Measure also shows that the Rand and New Zealand dollars were the most volatile currencies in January, with swings from high to low of 5.05% and 4.69% respectively. The Euro and US Dollar were also volatile (2.2% and 3.31%), showing that volatile conditions in financial markets have given property buyers more to think about when buying their currency. Contacting a reputable currency company will help individuals buying abroad to understand these movements and buy at preferential rates.


January 2012   Change Volatility
US Dollar USD +1.72% 3.31%
Euro EUR +0.85% 2.20%
Thai Bhat THB +0.50% 2.215%
Candian Dollar CAD -0.13% 2.24%
Swiss Franc CHF -0.54% 3.06%
South African Rand ZAR -1.89% 5.05%
Australian Dollar AUD -2.18% 3.23%
New Zealand NZD -4.44% 4.69%


Overseas property buyers should be aware of key events coming up in February which are likely to affect exchange rates and therefore their overseas property prices:


• Ongoing: Greek debt negotiations & agreement of bailout
• Friday 3rd: Eurozone retail sales & US unemployment
• Thursday 9th: Bank of England Quantitative Easing decision & UK trade balance
• Friday 10th: US trade balance
• Tuesday 14th: UK inflation & US retail sales
• Wednesday 15th: UK unemployment & Eurozone GDP
• Friday 17th: UK retail sales
• Wednesday 22nd: Bank of England minutes
• Friday 24th: UK GDP
• Wednesday 29th: Eurozone inflation


Applying the exchange rate change to recent changes in local property markets around the world reveals the real change in cost to British buyers of property around the world.


    Currency Property Overall Change Price
Portugal EUR -0.85% -2.88% -3.73%  
USA USD -1.72% -1.61% -3.33%  
Spain EUR -0.85% -2.15% -2.18%  
Greece EUR -0.85% -0.89% -0.89%  
Thailand THB -0.50% -0.50% -0.50%  
France EUR -0.85% 0.24% 0.24%  
Australia AUD 2.18% 1.02% 1.02%  
Switzerland CHF 0.54% 1.93% 1.93%  
New Zealand NZD 4.44% 2.60% 2.60%  
Canada CAD 0.13% 3.59% 3.59%  
South Africa ZAR 1.89% 4.22% 4.22%  


Applying the exchange rate change to recent changes in local property markets around the world reveals the real change in cost to British buyers of property around the world.

For example a British cash buyer can now pick up a bargain in Portugal for nearly 4% less than in recent months, or a saving of over £6,500 on a property which was on the market for €200,000 towards the end of 2011. The countries where emigrating or buying overseas are becoming significantly more expensive, are New Zealand, Canada and South Africa, due to an appreciating currency value and/or significant local increase in property prices.

For more information on currency exchange please contact the experts at Currency Index on 0800 043 2623 or visit

*Based on data from Global Property Guide 2011

Keep calm dear! Euro crisis improves exchange rates for Brits but armageddon is not nigh

United Kingdom

The recent Eurozone sovereign debt crisis has resulted in the reduction of the value of the single currency, providing overseas property buyers with in fact over 8% more for their money than if they were buying Euros in July last year according to the award-winning experts at Currency Index. However if the Euro is in so much trouble, is it wise to be buying abroad at the moment?

There has been vast speculation about anything from evacuation plans on the Algarve to contingency plans for banks with Euro exposure, but a lot of this is scaremongering, according to Robin Haynes, managing director of Currency Index who says,

“Many of our clients have been asking whether it is safe to buy and send Euros abroad – and while the situation is far from resolved, the European Central Bank will not allow the Eurozone to collapse.”

The forthcoming EU summit on Monday 30th January is likely to see Eurozone leaders agreeing extensions to the single currency stability measures, as well as the new fiscal pact which should ensure that tax and spending are at least put in line to protect debts from growing unsustainably.

“Even if Greece were to default on its debts and leave the Euro, local chaos from a devaluing Greek currency would not be likely to affect the Euro’s own future, and in fact with the new measures being put in place we are likely to see Euro strength in the medium term – markets will see the reforms as a step in the right direction.

“Buyers who are worried about any currency devaluing could even consider holding debt (such as a mortgage) as well as assets (such as property) to balance out the perceived risk” says Haynes.

With Euro exchange rates near a 16-month high for Brits sending money abroad, and Eurozone property prices under pressure too, now is in fact one of the cheapest times to buy a place abroad in recent memory. And ignoring the more sensationalist stories in the press, the savvy buyer can now snap up a bargain in the sun.

Currency Index reported a 32% increase in the volume of Euros transferred by clients to Spain in December 2012 compared to December 2011, showing that despite the doom and gloom in the news, Brits are still keen on a second home or retirement home in Europe.

For more information on currency exchange contact the experts at Currency Index on 0800 043 2623 or visit