Year-end Financial Instrument Check List

30 June marks the financial year-end for many Australian and New Zealand public and private companies, as well as Councils. With an ever increasing compliance burden, we have put together a practical check list for those entities that have exposure to financial instruments such as FX forwards, FX options and interest rate swaps. Those familiar with the international accounting standards understand the minefield that they are, with pages upon pages of text. We have boiled them down to five simple, practical and fundamental items.

 

Fair value (IFRS 13 / AASB 13)

IFRS 13 clearly states that valuations need to be an independent “exit price” for the transaction. It is hard to argue that a valuation from one of the counterparties to the transaction (i.e. the bank), constitutes an independent valuation, however, there are still many companies that rely on their bank for this information. Such reliance on the bank is understandable when the auditor accepts this approach, although we are seeing a much bigger push by the audit community to challenge companies on the lack of independence of a bank valuation given the bank is counterparty and valuer of the financial instrument. Historically there have been few economic alternatives to bank valuations, that is no longer a valid argument.

 

CVA/DVA (IFRS 13 / AASB 13)

The most recent compliance requirement for companies using financial instruments is the adjustment to fair value for credit. IFRS 13 requires a Credit Value Adjustment (CVA) or Debit Value Adjustment (DVA) to all financial instruments. Financial institutions have been credit adjusting their own positions for years, however, the requirement has filtered down so that all parties to financial instrument transactions must calculate and apply a credit adjustment. There is a strong argument that it is overkill for companies using financial instruments to hedge their foreign exchange cashflows (payments/receipts) or debt using plain vanilla instruments to have to make CVA/DVA adjustments. There is little added-value to the company, there is a cost to calculate the adjustment and the number is often immaterial (still have to calculate the number to determine its immateriality, however). It is different if you are trading financial instruments or are using credit hungry instruments such as cross-currency interest rate swaps but auditors, as prescribed by the accounting standards, are (or should be) forcing all financial instruments to be adjusted by CVA/DVA. There is a multitude of approaches to calculating CVA/DVA from the complex (potential future exposure method) to the simple (current exposure method). For those using plain vanilla instruments such as FX forwards or interest rate swaps then a simple methodology is appropriate. It is worth noting that the movement in both FX rates and interest rates over the last 12 months means valuations have moved significantly over the last 12 months which results in higher, more material CVA/DVA adjustments.

 

Sensitivity analysis (IFRS 7)

As part of the notes to the accounts under IFRS 7 there is a requirement to include a sensitivity analysis for financial instruments. This is a “what if” scenario that requires the re-calculation of fair value if the underlying market data is flexed. Often a +/-10% movement in the spot rate is used for FX instruments and a +/-100bp parallel shift in the yield curve for interest rate instruments. In theory there should be some sense check applied to the probability of the movement occurring i.e. if interest rates are close to zero then there is a low probability of a -100 basis point adjustment in the curve. We see little evidence of this in practice.

 

Hedge effectiveness testing (IAS 39 / IFRS 9 / AASB 9)

One of the biggest headaches at year-end is for those hedge accounting. Hedge accounting was introduced for practical reasons – remove noisy P&L volatility from unrealised gains/losses on financial instruments and put these adjustments on the balance sheet instead. In the early days of hedge accounting the approach was complicated and expensive. As auditors and accountants understanding of hedge accounting has developed over time, the process of hedge accounting has become much less complex. The most important aspect is the documentation. The effectiveness testing aspect of hedge accounting is fairly straightforward, particularly when utilising a treasury management system. The replacement of IAS 39 by IFRS 9 (effective 1 Jan 2018) will make hedge accounting a little easier with the removal of the 80-125% bright line and removal of the requirement to split option valuations between time and intrinsic value.

 

Time versus intrinsic (IAS 39)

Until IFRS 9 is effective (Jan 2018), companies hedge accounting for FX options (whether outright purchased options or in a collar relationship) must split the value of an option into its time and intrinsic components. The intrinsic value of an FX option is the difference between the prevailing market forward rate for the expiry of the FX option versus the strike price. The time value of an FX option is the difference between the overall FX option valuation and the intrinsic value. By definition, time value is a function of the time left to the expiry of the FX option. The longer the time to expiry, the higher the time value as there is a greater probability of the FX option being exercised. The intrinsic value goes to the balance sheet whilst the time value goes to P&L. Splitting time and intrinsic value is not too easy to do on the back of an envelope/spreadsheet, rather it is something that lends itself to be derived from a system.

 

Summary

Many companies try to complete the necessary compliance through using spreadsheets and bank valuations which is not only poor practice (valuations should be independent) but also error prone and time consuming. There are low cost systems available that can streamline, simplify and improve the ever increasing burden of year-end reporting requirements.

This article should not be taken as accounting advice but rather a practical guide and check list.

CVA is here to stay

Nine months ago we at Hedgebook engaged audit firms, banks and corporates to discuss Credit Value Adjustment (CVA) and Debit Value Adjustment (DVA) as the introduction of IFRS 13 loomed. The overwhelming response was one of ignorance and/or disinterest. Either they didn’t know about it or they didn’t want to know. On my recent business trip to Europe an audit firm in France recounted a story about a get together they had with their clients to explain the requirement for CVA. The whole room burst out laughing. Adjust the financial instrument valuations for my credit worthiness – you must be kidding.

In some ways this wasn’t surprising as IFRS 13 really only began to impact corporates for their 31 December 2013 annual results, even though their half year results should have included the adjustment. Now six months down the track and the requirement to adjust for credit worthiness can’t be ignored.

Whether we like it or not the valuation of financial instruments has become more complex as the regulators are now focusing more closely on this area. In fact when we talk about valuations for financial instruments the understanding is that it includes the credit adjustment under the new standard. CVA is part of this change in focus and is here to stay. The question for corporates therefore is how do I calculate these values accurately but in a simple and cost-effective way?

Although this isn’t new for the US it is new for the rest of the world and it appears that Australia and New Zealand are leading the charge. Europe has been pre-occupied with the new regulatory changes, especially the reporting requirements under EMIR and so it is only now that it has come on their radar.

Of course CVA and DVA are not new. The banks have been adjusting for credit for a number of years but in the corporate space it is new and many have tried to over complicate the calculation. Monte-Carlo simulations might be appropriate for companies that have cross currency swaps or more exotic option hedging strategies but the vast majority of corporates globally are using vanilla products – fx forwards, options and interest rate swaps. For these instruments a simple methodology to calculate CVA is not just acceptable but also appropriate.

It appears that common sense is already coming to the fore with the current exposure method gaining common acceptance, where the discount curve is flexed to adjust for the credit worthiness of both parties. Although a more simplified method it is still not straightforward, requiring two valuations and an adjustment of the yield curves for credit margin. Not something the banks will be providing and so therefore there is the requirement to source this from someone who specialises in financial market valuations. It doesn’t need to be expensive though and there are low cost solutions available.

Given the numbers are mostly small there is a natural reluctance to pay very much for what are in some cases reasonably immaterial numbers. However the audit firms are insisting on its inclusion and rightly so – it is a requirement under the accounting standards and the materiality or immateriality needs to be proven. Of course credit conditions are benign at the moment but as we know this can change quickly and it won’t take much to make the credit adjustment more material.

CVA is here to stay

Six months ago we at Hedgebook engaged audit firms, banks and corporates to discuss Credit Value Adjustment (CVA) and Debit Value Adjustment (DVA) as the introduction of IFRS 13 loomed. The overwhelming response was one of ignorance and/or disinterest. Either they didn’t know about it or they didn’t want to know. On my recent business trip to Europe an audit firm in France recounted a story about a get together they had with their clients to explain the requirement for CVA. The whole room burst out laughing. Adjust the financial instrument valuations for my credit worthiness – you must be kidding.

In some ways this wasn’t surprising as IFRS 13 really only began to impact corporates for their 31 December 2013 annual results, even though their half year results should have included the adjustment. Now six months down the track and the requirement to adjust for credit worthiness can’t be ignored.

Although this isn’t new for the US it is new for the rest of the world and it appears that Australia and New Zealand are leading the charge. Europe has been pre-occupied with the new regulatory changes, especially the reporting requirements under EMIR and so it is only now that it has come on their radar.

Of course CVA and DVA are not new. The banks have been adjusting for credit for a number of years but in the corporate space it is new and many have tried to over complicate the calculation. Monte-Carlo simulations might be appropriate for companies that have cross currency swaps or more exotic option hedging strategies but the vast majority of corporates globally are using vanilla products – fx forwards, options and interest rate swaps. For these instruments a simple methodology to calculate CVA is not just acceptable but also appropriate.

It appears that common sense is already coming to the fore with the current exposure method gaining common acceptance, where the discount curve is flexed to adjust for the credit worthiness of both parties. Although a more simplified method it is still not straightforward, requiring two valuations and an adjustment of the yield curves for credit margin. Not something the banks will be providing and so therefore there is the requirement to source this from someone who specialises in financial market valuations. It doesn’t need to be expensive though and there are low cost solutions available.

Given the numbers are mostly small there is a natural reluctance to pay very much for what are in some cases reasonably immaterial numbers. However the audit firms are insisting on its inclusion and rightly so – it is a requirement under the accounting standards and the materiality or immateriality needs to be proven. Of course credit conditions are benign at the moment but as we know this can change quickly and it won’t take much to make the credit adjustment more material.

Whether we like it or not the valuation of financial instruments has become more complex as the regulators are now focusing more closely on this area. CVA is part of this change in focus and is here to stay. The question for corporates therefore is how do I calculate these values accurately but in a simple and cost-effective way?

Are interest rate swaps heading the way of the dodo?

Previously I wrote about the bad press interest rate swaps have been receiving and that I felt much of the criticism was unjustified. I firmly believe that a lot of the negativity has been due to people not understanding why swaps are useful and, because of this, they fear their use.

Further muddying the waters has been the recent announcement of new margin requirements for over-the-counter (OTC) swaps. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has published several important rules for compliance, including a proposed start date of October 12. This has been coming for some time with the Dodd-Frank Act requiring most OTC derivatives to be traded on a Swap Execution Facility (SEF). (A SEF is “a trading system or platform in which multiple participants have the ability to execute or trade swaps”.)

Image courtesy of The Telegraph

This has got everyone excited and even saw Risk Magazine undertake a poll to see what the impact of the proposed margin requirements on uncleared trades would have. The results, while on the face of it are not surprising, could well be mis-leading.

60% of respondents to the survey thought end-users will opt not to use derivatives as a result of initial and variation margins requiring to be posted on uncleared swap trades. When the sort of money being talked about in collateral is in the trillions it is not surprising that there is some concern over this, and questions over the use of swaps in the future.

However I think we need to “back the truck up” a bit here. These new regulations do not relate to non-financial entities. The new proposals state “the margin requirements need not apply to non-centrally-cleared derivatives to which non-financial entities that are not systematically-important are a party.”

So corporations are exempt and therefore can continue to use swaps as they have done before – as a risk management tool to hedge future movements in interest rate risks. Interest rate swaps have got organisations into trouble in the past and no doubt will do so in the future, but almost without exception the reason that the deals have gone sour is because the people entering into them in the first case did not understand them. Sure the sales people have been gung-ho in some cases and they may or may not have been the best tool to use at the time, but again if the organisations entering into the swaps had a clear understanding of their use, most of these problems would be averted.

It is timely to remind ourselves of what needs to be in place to confidently enter into derivative deals. Firstly, make sure you have an exposure that the derivative will accurately hedge.  If as a borrower you have floating rate debt then an interest rate swap whereby you swap your floating interest payments for fixed interest payments would be appropriate. If you have floating rate debt and you sell an option to receive a premium to offset your interest payments, then this is speculation and is not managing your interest rate risk as you still have unlimited risk on the top side.

Secondly, understand the product itself well enough so you know the risks you are taking on board. If you are unsure DO NOT ENTER THE TRANSACTION. Normally plain vanilla deals will suffice, if you move away from the plain vanilla again you need to understand intimately what you are getting into. If interest rates go up what is the impact on your portfolio? Likewise if interest rates go down, what does that mean to you?

Finally you need to be able to record, report and value these transactions so that at all times you have a good handle on your current position and what might happen in the future if interest rates change. If you can’t capture your deals appropriately and value them then this is when unpleasant surprises can happen. You need to know your position at all times.

So changes are on their way, but as a business there is no cause for concern that instruments like swaps will no longer be able to be used as a risk management tool. If you follow the common sense rules then they are still an important way to manage your risks – despite what the regulators may seem to be saying.

Richard Eaddy is the CEO and founder of Hedgebook and the Managing Director of ETOS Ltd, specialists in treasury outsourcing services. Richard has worked in the corporate treasury risk management industry for more than 20 years. He has held senior roles in large corporate treasury departments in both New Zealand and Europe, provided treasury risk management advice to major corporations and for the last ten years has headed up the largest treasury outsourcing company in Australasia. Richard can be contacted at richard.eaddy@myhedgebook.com.

The GFC, Corporate Governance and Hedgebook…

In the wake of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), Corporate Governance has become a key focus, not just for large organisations but for small to medium sized entities as well.

Corporate Governance relates to the rules around how a company is controlled, whether it is by processes, policies, laws or customs.

Two of the key areas of Corporate Governance are reporting & disclosure, and risk management.

Reporting and disclosure means demanding integrity both in financial reporting and in the timeliness and balance of disclosures relating to the entity’s affairs. Risk management is regularly verifying that the entity has appropriate processes in place to identify and manage potential and relevant risks.

Hedgebook is ideally suited to assist in both these areas of Corporate Governance and is designed specifically to help any business better manage its foreign exchange and interest rate risks. From a reporting and disclosure point of view, it enhances the reporting around treasury giving more visibility to “what if” scenarios as well as better defining an organisation’s current position

For risk management, Hedgebook assists with not only the areas mentioned above but also in compliance with treasury policies, which is a key plank of any organisation’s risk management process. With having online access to valuations for financial instruments, Hedgebook gives greater transparency over risk management issues as well as assisting in making better business decisions. Hedgebook also tells an organisation not only what their risk position is today, but given current market conditions, what their position is in the future.

As we see increased awareness of corporate governance amongst small to medium sized companies, a tool like Hedgebook is putting information in the hands of these organisations at an affordable price.

This not only makes better corporate governance possible for these organisations, while at the same time enabling better decision making in a crucial area of business.

Look out for our next article on better Reporting and Disclosure coming soon.

Interest Rate Swap Tutorial, Part 2 of 5, Fixed Legs

Interest Rate Swap Fixed Legs

Now that we know the basic terminology and structure of a vanilla interest rate swap we can now look at constructing our fixed leg of our swap by first building our date schedule, then calculating the fixed coupon amounts.

For our example swap we will be using the following inputs:

  • Notional: $1,000,000 USD
  • Coupon Frequency: Semi-Annual
  • Fixed Coupon Amount: 1.24%
  • Floating Coupon Index: 6 month USD LIBOR
  • Business Day Convention: Modified Following
  • Fixed Coupon Daycount: 30/360
  • Floating Coupon Daycount: Actual/360
  • Effective Date: Nov 14, 2011
  • Termination Date: Nov 14, 2016
  • We will be valuing our swap as of November 10, 2011.

Swap Coupon Schedule

First we need to create our schedule of swap coupon dates. We will start from our maturity date and step backwards in semi-annual increments. The first step is to generate our schedule of non-adjusted dates.

swap coupon dates unadjusted

Then we adjust our dates using the modified following business day convention.

swap coupon dates adjusted

Note that all the weekend coupon dates have been brought forward to the next Monday.

Swap Fixed Coupon Amounts

To calculate the amount for each fixed coupon we do the following calculation:

Fixed Coupon = Fixed Rate x Time x Swap Notional Amount

Where:

Fixed Rate = The fixed coupon amount set in the swap confirmation.

Time = Year portion that is calculated by the fixed coupons daycount method.

Swap Notional = The notional amount set in the swap confirmation.

Below is our date schedule with the Time portion calculated using the 30/360 daycount convention. More on daycounts can be found in this document titled Accrual and Daycount conventions.

Note the coupons which are not exactly a half-year due to the business day convention. If our business day convention was no-adjustment all the time periods would have been 0.5. This is a difference between swaps and bonds, as bonds will generally not adjust the coupon amounts for business day conventions, they will simply be 1/(# coupon periods per year) x coupon rate x principal.

swap schedule with daycount

The coupon amount for our first coupon will be 1.24% x 1,000,000 x 0.50 = $6,200.00. Below are the coupon amounts for all of the coupons.

swap coupon schedule

Now that we know our coupon amounts, to find the current fair value of the fixed leg we would present value each coupon and sum them to find the total present value of our fixed leg. To do this we calculate the discount factor for each coupon payment using a discount factor curve which represents our swap curve. We will build our discount factor curve later in this tutorial series.

Thanks to our sister company Resolution for providing us with this series of posts.

Next Article: Swap floating legs including calculating forward rates

Hedge Accounting – where to from here?

When hedge accounting under IAS39 was first introduced in 2005, many nay-sayers (including myself) thought that organisations would move away from worrying about it once the standard was well understood. This was especially so as it seemed overly complicated at the time and administratively a nightmare to comply with. I know of senior partners in accounting firms who decided that they were “too long in the tooth” to invest the time to learn such new concepts and promptly retired.

The reality has been somewhat different. Like many new things, hedge accounting was met with fear and distrust but what was new and scary more than seven years ago is now familiar and normal (albeit with some changes on the way). In fact not only is it now “normal” but where many thought that organisations would move away from worrying about it and would “mark-to-market” all their financial instruments through the Profit and Loss account, we have seen more and more moving towards adopting hedge accounting.

Why is that? For a couple of reasons probably, firstly because hedge accounting is not that difficult if you are reasonably conservative with your risk management. If you stick to plain vanilla type products such as foreign exchange forwards or interest rate swaps and you don’t try and restructure them or push them out too far, then you will easily comply with the standard. Yes you need to do the documentation but that is mostly a simple matter of copying a WordTM document and making a small number of changes. If you have access to independent mark-to-markets of the financial instruments then you can do the hedge effectiveness testing relatively simply, and if you don’t want to do it yourself you can always outsource to an 3rd party who will do it for you.

The other reason why hedge accounting has been more widely adopted (even by those who would prefer not to) is because of the volatility in the financial markets over the last few years that has caused significant movements in the valuations of financial instruments. Volatility in the financial statements is a CFO’s worst nightmare and even though we all know they are unrealised movements, the market still focuses on the bottom line that includes these movements. I am not a financial markets forecaster but I would suggest that volatility is here to stay for the foreseeable future and this alone will continue to drive more and more to hedge account.

The good news is that hedge accounting is going to become easier. IAS 39 is due to be replaced by IFRS 9 and this will mean that complying with the new standard will be simpler than it was under the old one. Gone will be the illogical requirement to split time value out from options which led many to abandon using this useful instrument. Gone also will be the hardline 80 to 125% rule for achieving hedge effectiveness. Now you will be effective for the portion which is effective, not effective if you were 80.1% and ineffective of you were 79.9%.

The final standard is still to be released with likely adoption in 2015 but with the unrelenting volatility in financial markets and a more practical approach to hedge accounting, there is little doubt that the trend we have seen since its original introduction of an increasing uptake is going to continue over the coming years.

 

Richard Eaddy is the CEO and founder of Hedgebook and the Managing Director of ETOS Ltd, specialists in treasury outsourcing services. Richard has worked in the corporate treasury risk management industry for more than 20 years. He has held senior roles in large corporate treasury departments in both New Zealand and Europe, provided treasury risk management advice to major corporations and for the last ten years has headed up the largest treasury outsourcing company in Australasia. Richard can be contacted at richard.eaddy@myhedgebook.com.

Five steps to more effective treasury management

I recently read an interesting report in the November 2011 McKinsey Quarterly that highlights the increasing complexities of managing the treasury function of a business and focuses on 5 key areas that should be given attention, no matter what size or type of business you are.

The article delivered a timely reminder that the costs of inadequate focus on this important function can be extremely costly for small and large businesses alike. “Companies pay incremental interest expenses when they overborrow as a result of inaccurate cash flow forecasting and often lose money when they don’t hedge exposures for currencies and for interest rates…”

Now clearly you don’t need to be a McKinsey analyst to work that out, however too many  businesses still take something of a laissez faire approach to the task of managing their currency and interest rate exposure.

The 5 areas the McKinsey report focuses on are:

  • Centralise the treasury function globally
  • Strengthen governance
  • Enhance treasury-management systems
  • Increase the accuracy of cash flow forecasting
  • Manage working capital in developing markets

Points 1 and 5 may only be relevant to organisations with a global footprint, however the other three are extremely pertinent to any business carrying currency and interest rate risk, and can all be improved through the introduction of a tool such as Hedgebook.

Hedgebook’s reporting module allows for stronger governance, enabling the implementation of robust procedures through the provision of good information, while bringing much greater visibility to policy management and adherance.

The same reporting gives decision makers much greater visibility of projected cashflows, while also modeling their sensitivity to market fluctuations, making forecasting much simpler and more accurate.

The McKinsey report was particularly harsh on organisations who still rely on spreadsheets to manage this mission-critical business function.  It found that a staggering number of businesses, including large multinationals, are still relying on error-prone spreadsheets.

“A single error in a single cell can ripple through an entire model, leading managers to borrow instead of invest, to hedge incorrectly, and to forget to fund operating accounts or make debt payments.”

The report identified cost as one of the most-stated barriers to investing in a treasury management solution, but went on to point out that the cost-benefit stacks up every time when you consider the potential cost of a single mistake.

“At one North American utility company a simple spreadsheet error for energy auction bids led managers to enter into nonreversible contracts the company didn’t need – a mistake that cost it half of its operating earning for the quarter.”

This may well be an egregious example, but with many businesses living and dying by their success in navigating a volatile currency market, a subscription to a tool like Hedgebook looks a small price to pay for confidence.

The original McKinsey article can be read here (note you have to register to view)