Questions on risk management feature regularly in the Advanced Financial Management exam. Performance information from recent exams suggests students tend to do less well on interest rate risk management questions than questions about foreign exchange risk management. This article will therefore explain the significance of the information you’ll be given in interest rate risk management questions and show you what you’ll be asked to do.
The scenario is adapted from Wardegul Co, Question 4 in the September/December 2017 sample questions which ACCA has published.
Scenario
Assume Wardegul Co has a newlyacquired subsidiary in Euria, where the local currency is the dinar (D). The subsidiary expects to receive D27,000,000 and wants to invest this D27,000,000. Assume it is now 1 October 2017 and the subsidiary expects to receive the money on 31 January 2018. It wishes the money to be invested for five months until 30 June 2018.
Currently the central bank base rate in Euria is 4·2%, but Wardegul Co’s treasury team has seen predictions that the central bank base rate could increase by up to 1·1% or fall by up to 0·6% between now and 31 January 2018. The treasury team believes that Wardegul Co can invest funds at the central bank base rate less 30 basis points.
The treasury team normally hedge interest rate exposure by using whichever of the following products is most appropriate:
 Forward rate agreements (FRAs)
 Interest rate futures
 Options on interest rate futures
Treasury function guidelines emphasise the importance of mitigating the impact of adverse movements in interest rates. However, they also allow staff to take into consideration upside risks associated with interest rate exposure when deciding which instrument to use.
A local bank in Euria, with which Wardegul Co has not dealt before, has offered the following FRA rates:
 4–9: 5·02%
 5–10: 5·10%
The treasury team has also obtained the following information about exchange traded Dinar futures and options:
Threemonth D futures, D500,000 contract size
Prices are quoted in basis points at 100 – annual % yield
December 2017  94.84  
March 2018  94.78  
June 2018  94.66 
Options on threemonth D futures, D500,000 contract size, option premiums are in annual %
 Call 


 Put 

December  March  June 
 December  March  June 
0.417  0.545  0.678  94.25  0.071  0.094  0.155 
0.078  0.098  0.160  95.25  0.393  0.529  0.664 
It can be assumed that futures and options contracts are settled at the end of each month. Basis can be assumed to diminish to zero at contract maturity at a constant rate, based on monthly time intervals. It can also be assumed that there is no basis risk and there are no margin requirements.
Requirements
Recommend a hedging strategy for the D27,000,000 investment, based on the hedging choices which treasury staff are considering, if interest rates increase by 1·1% or decrease by 0·6%. Support your answer with appropriate calculations and discussion. (18 marks)
Approaching the question
Read the requirements carefully
You should read the requirements first before reading the scenario in detail. Knowing what your answer has to cover, and therefore what the key data will be, will help you analyse the scenario.
Breaking down the requirements for Wardegul Co:
Recommend a  You’ll have to make a clear recommendation based on your calculations. Anyone reading the recommendation should be able to see:


Based on the hedging choices which treasury staff are considering  You need to consider all the hedging instruments for which data is given, including both the options. 

If interest rates increase by 1·1% or decrease by 0·6%  You should assess, for all the hedging instruments, what will happen if interest rates rise or fall. 

Support your answer with appropriate calculations and discussion  You should make some comment on any calculation you carry out in the P4 exam. However, mentioning discussion in the question requirements here indicates that a number of marks will be available for comments (four marks maximum per the marking scheme). Therefore, a single sentence comment won’t be enough. 
Identify the important data in the scenario
For interest rate hedging questions, you need to identify the information that will affect the calculations for each instrument. Let’s have another look at the scenario, with the important data highlighted and referenced to explanations below.
Assume Wardegul Co has a newlyacquired subsidiary in Euria, where the local currency is the dinar (D). The subsidiary expects to receive D27,000,000 and wants to invest this D27,000,000.
 Forward rate agreements  Futures  Options 

Wants to invest this D27,000,000  Possibilities are:
 Buy now (go long), sell later  Buy call option 
Assume it is now 1 October 2017 and the subsidiary expects to receive the money on 31 January 2018.
 Forward rate agreements  Futures  Options 


It is now 1 Oct 2017 and the subsidiary expects to receive the money on 31 Jan 2018  A period of four months, so look for a 4–x agreement  Choose futures dated after January – March is closest date  Choose options dated after January – March is closest date 
It wishes the money to be invested for five months until 30 June 2018.
 Forward rate agreements  Futures  Options 


The money to be invested for five months until 30 June 2018  Four months to start of investment + five months to end of investment = nine months, so select 4–9 agreement  Contracts are for three months, so adjust contracts calculation, so that five month period is covered  Contracts are for three months, so adjust contracts calculation, so that five month period is covered 

 Calculate investment return for five months  Calculate investment return for five months  Calculate investment return for five months 

 Calculate transaction with bank for five months 



 Adjust effective annual interest rate calculation for interest being received for five months  Adjust effective annual interest rate calculation for interest being received for five months  Adjust effective annual interest rate calculation for interest being received for five months 
Currently the central bank base rate in Euria is 4·2%,
 Forward rate agreements  Futures  Options 


Currently the central bank base rate in Euria is currently 4.2%  Affects calculation of: • Future interest rates  Affects calculations of: • Future interest rates • Basis  Affects calculations of: • Future interest rates • Basis 
but Wardegul Co’s treasury team has seen predictions that the central bank base rate could increase by up to 1·1% or fall by up to 0·6% between now and 31 January 2018.
 Forward rate agreements  Futures  Options 


The central bank base rate could increase by up to 1.1% or fall by up to 0.6%  Affects future interest rates and hence: • Actual investment return • Transaction with bank  Affects future interest rates and hence: • Actual investment return • Calculation of expected futures price and hence result on futures market  Affects future interest rates and hence: • Actual investment return • Calculation of expected futures price and hence whether options are exercised or not • Calculation of gain if options are exercised 
The treasury team believes that Wardegul Co can invest funds at the central bank base rate less 30 basis points.
 Forward rate agreements  Futures  Options 

Wardegul Co can invest funds at the central bank base rate less 30 basis points  Affects actual investment return: • If rate rises to 5.3%, investment return will be 5.0% • If rate falls to 3.6%, investment return will be 3.3%  Affects actual investment return: • If rate rises to 5.3%, investment return will be 5.0% • If rate falls to 3.6%, investment return will be 3.3%  Affects actual investment return: • If rate rises to 5.3%, investment return will be 5.0% • If rate falls to 3.6%, investment return will be 3.3% 
The treasury team normally hedges interest rate exposure by using whichever of the following products is most appropriate:
 Forward rate agreements (FRAs)
 Interest rate futures
 Options on interest rate futures
Treasury function guidelines emphasise the importance of mitigating the impact of adverse movements in interest rates. However, they also allow staff to take into consideration upside risks associated with interest rate exposure when deciding which instrument to use.
A local bank in Euria, with which Wardegul Co has not dealt before, has offered the following FRA rates:
 4–9: 5·02%
 5–10: 5·10%
The treasury team has also obtained the following information about exchange traded Dinar futures and options:
Threemonth D futures, D500,000 contract size
 Forward rate agreements  Futures  Options 

Threemonth D500,000 futures 
 Affects calculations of: • Number of futures contracts • Result on futures contracts 

Prices are quoted in basis points at 100 – annual % yield
December 2017  94.84  
March 2018  94.78  
June 2018  94.66 
Options on threemonth futures, D500,000 contract size, option premiums are in annual %
 Forward rate agreements  Futures  Options 

Options on threemonth futures, D500,000 contract size 

 Affects calculation is of:

 Call 


 Put 

December  March  June 
 December  March  June 
0.417  0.545  0.678  94.25  0.071  0.094  0.155 
0.078  0.098  0.160  95.25  0.393  0.529  0.664 
It can be assumed that futures and options contracts are settled at the end of each month. Basis can be assumed to diminish to zero at contract maturity at a constant rate, based on monthly time intervals. It can also be assumed that there is no basis risk and there are no margin requirements.
 Forward rate agreements  Futures  Options 


Basis can be assumed to diminish to zero at contract maturity at a constant rate, based on monthly time intervals 
 Use in basis calculation:  Use in basis calculation: 
Let’s now review the answer:
Forward rate agreement
FRA 5.02% (4 – 9) since the investment will take place in four months’ time for a period of five months.
If interest rates increase by 1.1% to 5.3%
 D  
Actual investment return 5.0% × 5/12 × D27,000,000  562,500  
Payment to bank (5.3% – 5.02%) × 5/12 × D27,000,000  (31,500)  
Net receipt  531,000  
Effective annual interest rate 531,000/27,000,000 × 12/5  4.72% 
 D 

Actual investment return 3.3% × 5/12 × D27,000,000  371,250 

Receipt from bank (5.02% – 3.6%) × 5/12 × D27,000,000  159,750 

Net receipt  531,000 

Effective annual interest rate as above 531,000/27,000,000 × 12/5  4.72% 

Comment The two calculations should give the same effective annual interest rate. 
Futures
Buy futures now (go long in the futures market), as the hedge is against a fall in interest rates.
Use March contracts, as investment will be made on 31 January.
Number of contracts = D27,000,000 ÷ D500,000 × 5 months ÷ 3 months = 90 contracts
Basis
Current price (1 October) – futures price = basis
(100 – 4.20) – 94.78 = 1.02
Unexpired basis on 31 January = 2/6 × 1.02 = 0.34
If interest rates increase by 1.1% to 5.3%
 D  
Actual investment return 5.0% × 5/12 × D27,000,000  562,500  
Expected futures price: 100 – 5.3 – 0.34 = 94.36 
 
Loss on the futures market: (0.9436 – 0.9478) × D500,000 × 3/12 × 90  (47,250)  
Net return  515,250  
Effective annual interest rate 515,250/27,000,000 × 12/5  4.58% 
If interest rates fall by 0.6% to 3.6%
 D  
Actual investment return 3.3% × 5/12 × D27,000,000  371,250  
Expected futures price: 100 – 3.6 – 0.34 = 96.06 
 
Profit on the futures market: (0.9606 – 0.9478) × D500,000 × 3 /12 × 90  144,000  
Net receipt  515,250  
Effective annual interest rate 515,250/27,000,000 × 12/5  4.58% 
Comment The two calculations should give the same effective annual interest rate.
• we make a PROFIT if the expected futures price is GREATER than the current futures price • we make a LOSS if the expected futures price is LESS than the current futures price 
Options
Buy call options as need to hedge against a fall in interest rates.
Use March contracts, as investment will be made on 31 January.
Number of contracts = D27,000,000 ÷ D500,000 × 5 months ÷ 3 months = 90 contracts
Basis
Current price (1 October) – futures price = basis
(100 – 4.20) – 94.78 = 1.02
Unexpired basis on 31 January = 2/6 × 1.02 = 0.34
If interest rates increase by 1.1% to 5.3%
Exercise price  94.25  95.25  
Expected futures price: 100 – 5.3 – 0.34 = 94.36  94.36  94.36  
Exercise?  Yes  No  
Gain in basis points  11  0  
 D  D  
Actual investment return 5.0% × 5/12 × D27,000,000  562,500  562,500  
Gain from options 0.0011 × D500,000 × 3/12 × 90  12,375  0  
Premium 

 
0.00545 × D500,000 × 3/12 × 90  (61,313) 
 
0.00098 × D500,000 × 3/12 × 90 
 (11,025)  
Net return  513,562  551,475  
Effective interest rate 

 
513,562/27,000,000 × 12/5  4.56% 
 
551,475/27,000,000 × 12/5 
 4.90% 
Exercise price  94.25  95.25  
Expected futures price: 100 – 3.6 – 0.34 = 96.06  96.06  96.06  
Exercise?  Yes  Yes  
Gain in basis points  181  81  
Actual investment return 3.3% × 5/12 × D27,000,000  371,250  371,250  
Gain from options 

 
0.0181 × D500,000 × 3/12 × 90  203,625 
 
0.0081 × D500,000 × 3/12 × 90 
 91,125  
Premium 0.00545 × D500,000 × 3/12 × 90 
(61,313) 
 
0.00098 × D500,000 × 3/12 × 90 
 (11,025)  
Net return  513,562  451,350  
Effective interest rate 

 
513,562/27,000,000 × 12/5  4.56% 
 
451,350/27,000,000 × 12/5 
 4.01% 
Comment If one of the options is exercised for both interest rates, as the 94.25 is here, the calculations should give the same result. 
Discussion
The forward rate agreement gives the highest guaranteed return. If Wardegul Co wishes to have a certain cash flow and is primarily concerned with protecting itself against a fall in interest rates it will most likely choose the forward rate agreement. The 95.25 option gives a better rate if interest rates rise, but a significantly lower rate if interest rates fall, so if Wardegul Co is at all risk averse it will choose the forward rate agreement.
This assumes that the bank with Wardegul Co deals with is reliable and there is no risk of default. If Wardegul Co believes that the current economic uncertainty may result in a risk that the bank will default, the choice will be between the futures and the options, as these are guaranteed by the exchange. Again the 95.25 option may be ruled out because it gives a much worse result if interest rates fall to 3.6%. The futures give a marginally better result than the 94.25 option in both scenarios but the difference is small. If Wardegul Co feels there is a possibility that interest rates will be higher than 5.41%, the point at which the 94.25 option would not be exercised, it may choose this option rather than the future.
Comment Identifying which of the possible strategies gives the highest value is only the start of the discussion and you need to consider other factors that may influence the decision to obtain four marks: • The level of risk aversion that Wardegul Co has. The treasury team appears to be weighing limiting downside against the possibility of taking advantage of upside. • Other risk considerations are also important. There may be counterparty risk, as FRAs are overthecounter instruments. • The decision may depend upon what is believed about future interest rates. Here, as rates are volatile, you should consider whether the decision would change depending on what interest rates are expected. The discussion should be in full sentences and use information relevant to the scenario. A bullet point list or generic statements relating to hedging are unlikely to be awarded many marks. 
Conclusion
This article has demonstrated how to use the data given in the question to calculate the impact of interest rate hedging. Hopefully it will help you tackle interest rate risk management questions in a structured way, which should mean that you score well.
Written by a member of the Advanced Financial Management examining team