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Currency Exposures Explained

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Currency Exposures Explained

Currency Exposures Explained. ETF Handbook Series – Investing in ETFs: Currency Exposures Explained Deutsche Bank – Synthetic Equity & Index Strategy – Europe

Understanding your ETF currency exposure, explaining unexpected returns

In this report, we describe the basics of benchmarks to understand the currency exposures associated with investing in ETFs. The relationship between an index base currency and its members listing currencies has a direct influence on performance. An ETF tracking a specific index can introduce a new currency risk if the listing currency of the ETF is different to the base currency of the benchmark. Being unaware of these differences may result in unexpected returns.

Invest with reduced currency risks through currency hedged ETFs

In order to eliminate this potential source of unwanted portfolio return variability, investors could consider hedging currency exposures. This can be implemented using a currency hedged ETF which will deliver the hedged performance of a benchmark to the end investor. These products offer operational ease and aim to return the local performance of an index. Inside, we present a worked example to understand the mechanics of a currency hedged ETF.

Currency hedged ETFs have accumulated over US$ 25bn in assets globally

ETF cash flows into currency hedged products have demonstrated that investors are increasingly cognizant of their investment exposures and currency is a major consideration. The growth of currency hedged equity ETFs over the last two years has been driven primarily by investments into Japanese equities on concerns of a depreciating Japanese Yen. However, year to date we have also observed currency hedged products with other regional exposures gather momentum.

Cost considerations of currency hedged ETFs

Given the increased complexity of managing a hedged ETF fund, the total expense ratios (TER) are generally higher than comparable unhedged versions. For example, the iShares Core S&P 500 ETF has an annualized TER of 0.07% whereas the iShares S&P500 EUR Hedged ETF has a TER of 0.45%. Further, the hedging mechanics where rolling of 1-month currency forwards are required may result in performance slippage to the equivalent local benchmark.

Use currency hedged ETFs to protect investment from undesirable FX moves

The cost premium of investing in currency hedged ETFs offers value in cases where there is concentrated currency risk. This may serve to fully or partially protect any potential erosion of profits as a result of unfavorable currency movements. An obvious example demonstrating this is by comparing a hedged ETF and an unhedged ETF tracking MSCI Japan. db x-Trackers MSCI Japan EUR Hedged ETF returned 50.8% in 2013 while db x-Trackers MSCI Japan TR ETF underperformed with a performance of 25.9% during the same period as performance was eroded due to a weaker JPY.

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