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What is a Natural Currency Hedge?

June 29, 2024July 15th, 2024No Comments
Mariel Rhetta
Content Strategist at Rutland FX
Published on: (Updated ) - minute read

Currency fluctuations can significantly impact businesses engaged in cross-border transactions. A natural hedge is a strategy used by these businesses to mitigate the risk of currency exchange rate movements without relying on financial derivatives or hedging instruments. By understanding and implementing natural hedging techniques, companies can protect themselves from potential financial losses due to adverse currency movements.

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Understanding Currency Risk

Currency risk, also known as exchange rate risk, arises when a business engages in transactions involving multiple currencies. This risk becomes evident when the value of a foreign currency fluctuates against the company’s home currency, potentially leading to increased costs or reduced revenues. For example, a UK-based company exporting goods to the US might receive payments in US dollars. If the value of the dollar decreases relative to the pound, the company’s revenue in pounds will diminish, negatively impacting its profitability making currency budgeting important.

What is a Natural Hedge?

A natural hedge occurs when a company structures its operations or finances in a way that naturally offsets the currency risk without using complex financial instruments. This involves aligning cash inflows and outflows in the same foreign currency, thereby reducing the need for currency conversion and minimising the exposure to exchange rate fluctuations.

How Does a Natural Hedge Work?

A natural hedge can be achieved through various operational strategies.

One common method is matching revenues and expenses. For example, a European manufacturer with sales in the US can create a natural hedge by sourcing raw materials from US suppliers and paying them in US dollars. This way, the dollar-denominated costs offset the dollar-denominated revenues, reducing the impact of exchange rate changes.

Another approach is invoicing in the local currency. A UK-based exporter could invoice its international customers in pounds instead of the local currency. By doing so, the company transfers the currency risk to its customers, as they will need to handle the conversion process and bear the associated risks.

Diversifying operations can also create a natural hedge. A multinational corporation with operations in multiple countries can balance its revenue streams across different currencies. If the company earns revenue in euros, dollars, and yen, the impact of a decline in one currency’s value might be mitigated by stability or gains in another currency.

Local financing is another effective strategy. A company with a subsidiary in Japan can obtain loans in yen to finance its local operations. The interest and principal repayments in yen will be naturally hedged against the subsidiary’s yen-denominated revenues.

Advantages of a Natural Hedge

Natural hedging is cost-effective as it eliminates the need for paying currency conversion spreads. Implementing a natural hedge often involves straightforward operational adjustments, making it easier for businesses to manage compared to complex financial strategies. Additionally, natural hedges align with the company’s core activities, ensuring that the hedging strategy is integrated into daily business operations.

Limitations of a Natural Hedge

However, natural hedges can have limitations. While they can mitigate currency risk, they might not provide complete protection as a net currency exposure might remain. For example, if you receive $100,000 in sales but your expenses are $110,000, you will still need to convert $10,000, exposing you to exchange rate fluctuations. Additionally, there is a risk that sales in one country might slow down compared to another, leaving a net exposure.

Although a natural hedge, when done correctly, can save exchange costs over time, there is often still a need to move some money to cover shortfalls. Implementing a natural hedge might also require changes in suppliers, financing arrangements, or customer agreements, which can be challenging. Furthermore, natural hedging strategies are often specific to certain transactions or operational aspects, limiting their flexibility to cover all currency exposures.


A natural hedge is an effective strategy for businesses looking to manage currency risk without the complexities and costs associated with financial derivatives. By aligning revenues and expenses in the same foreign currency, invoicing in the local currency, diversifying operations, and securing local financing, companies can significantly reduce their exposure to currency fluctuations. While natural hedges may not offer complete protection, they provide a cost-effective and straightforward approach to mitigating the impact of exchange rate movements on a company’s financial health.

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