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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 newly-acquired 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:

Three-month D futures, D500,000 contract size
Prices are quoted in basis points at 100 – annual % yield

December 201794.84 

March 2018

94.78 
June 201894.66 



Options on three-month 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
hedging strategy

       

You’ll have to make a clear recommendation based on your calculations. Anyone reading the recommendation should be able to see:

• How much would be received under each instrument

• The effective annual  interest rate for each instrument


so that they can compare the results of the hedging choices with the interest rate currently available.   

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 newly-acquired 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:


• Pay money to bank if base rate exceeds FRA rate

• Receive money from bank if FRA rate is greater than base rate

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:

Three-month D futures, D500,000 contract size

 

Forward rate agreements

Futures

Options

Three-month 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 201794.84 

March 2018

94.78 
June 201894.66 


Options on three-month futures, D500,000 contract size, option premiums are in annual %

 

Forward rate agreements

Futures

Options

Options on three-month futures, D500,000 contract size

 

 

Affects calculation is of:

• Number of options contracts

• Gain if options are exercised

• Option premium

 



 

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:

• Period between investment date (31 January) and contract maturity date (31 March) (two months)

• Period between today’s date (1 October) and contract date (31 March) (six months)

 

Use in basis calculation:

• Period between investment date (31 January) and contract maturity date (31 March) (two months)

• Period between today’s date (1 October) and contract date (31 March) (six months)



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 receipt531,000 
Effective annual interest rate 531,000/27,000,000 × 12/54.72% 


 

D

 

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

371,250

 

Receipt from bank (5.02% – 3.6%) × 5/12 × D27,000,000159,750

 

Net receipt531,000

 

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 – 5.30.34 = 94.36

 

 
Loss on the futures market: (0.9436 – 0.9478) ×
D500,000 × 3/12 × 90
(47,250) 
Net return515,250 
Effective annual interest rate 515,250/27,000,000 × 12/54.58% 


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 – 3.60.34 = 96.06

 

 
Profit on the futures market: (0.9606 – 0.9478) × 
D500,000 × 3 /12 × 90
144,000 
Net receipt515,250 
Effective annual interest rate 515,250/27,000,000 × 12/54.58% 


Comment

The two calculations should give the same effective annual interest rate.


As we are buying futures now, then selling futures later:
 

• 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 – 5.30.34 = 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 – 3.60.34 = 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.

As these are CALL options, options to buy, choose the LOWER price and so:

• If the exercise price is LOWER than the expected futures price, EXERCISE

• If the exercise price is HIGHER than the expected futures price, DO NOT EXERCISE



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 over-the-counter 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

Last updated: 14 Feb 2018