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Given that we live in a world rife with geopolitical risks such as Brexit and potential EU breakup, would you say it's advisable to keep some of cash savings in a foreign currency?

You may assume that I can earn interest in the foreign currency at least equal to the established overnight deposit rate.

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Given that we live in a world rife with geopolitical risks such as Brexit and potential EU breakup, would you say it's advisable to keep some of cash savings in a foreign currency?

Probably not. Primarily because you don't know what will happen in the fallout of these sorts of political shifts. You don't know what will happen to banking treaties between the various countries involved.

If you can manage to place funds on deposit in a foreign bank/country in a currency other than your home currency and maintain the deposit insurance in that country and not spend too much exchanging your currency then there probably isn't a downside other than liquidity loss.

If you're thinking I'll just wire some whatever currency to some bank in some foreign country in which you have no residency or citizenship consideration without considering deposit insurance just so you might protect some of your money from a possible future event I think you should stay away.

  • Well to be specific I'm thinking of just grabbing something close to a money market fund. It's at a UK brokerage so it's covered by UK FSCS. – SMeznaric Mar 13 '17 at 19:14
  • @SMeznaric, then I think there's no downside other than your transaction fees. If I were in your position and concerned I'd probably put a little money in there too. – quid Mar 13 '17 at 19:22
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would you say it's advisable to keep some of cash savings in a foreign currency?

This is primarily opinion based.

Given that we live in a world rife with geopolitical risks such as Brexit and potential EU breakup

There is no way to predict what will happen in such large events. For example if one keeps funds outside on UK in say Germany in Euro's. The UK may bring in a regulation and clamp down all funds held outside of UK as belonging to Government or tax these at 90% or anything absurd that negates the purpose of keeping funds outside. There are example of developing / under developed economics putting absurd capital controls. Whether UK will do or not is a speculation.

If you are going to spend your live in a country, it is best to invest in country. As normal diversification, you can look at keep a small amount invested outside of country.

  • If not keeping cash in multiple currencies, would you then use a different method to hedge against currency risk and inflation? I am not sure if I will live forever in the same country. – SMeznaric Mar 13 '17 at 12:59
  • @SMeznaric, multinational companies have exposure to currency fluctuation (big energy companies as an example), and there are investment funds/ETFs that seek to invest in foreign companies. – quid Mar 13 '17 at 17:41
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I don't think that it's a good idea to have cash savings in different currencies, unless you know which will be the direction of the wind for that currency. You can suffer a lot of volatility and losses if you just convert your savings to another currency without knowing anything about which direction that pair will take.

Today we can see Brexit, but this is a fact that has been discounted by the market, so the currencies are already adjusted to that fact, but we don't know what will happen in the future, maybe Trump will collapse the US economy, or some other economies in Asia will raise to gain more leadership.

If you want to invest in an economy, I think that it's a best idea to invest on companies that are working in that country. This is a way of moving your money to other currencies, and at least you can see how is the company performing.

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Is it sensible to keep savings in a foreign currency?

The answer varies from one country to the next, but in the UK (or any other mature economy), I would advise against it.

There are better ways to hedge against currency risks with the funds readily available to you through your ISA. You can keep your money relatively safe and liquid without ever paying a currency exchange fee.

  • Would your answer change if you assume my exchange fees are tiny (less than half a basis point)? Do you have a specific type of fund you're thinking of? – SMeznaric Mar 13 '17 at 19:10
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    I've been trying to steer clear of specific product recommendations, particularly since I don't know your risk appetite, but there are any number of index funds (perhaps from L&G) that I would use to get global exposure if I was worried about any UK specific index. – Nathan L Mar 13 '17 at 19:24
  • I would tend toward a very conservative allocation for any savings that I would need ready access to. Perhaps as high as 25% equities max. – Nathan L Mar 13 '17 at 19:29
  • Short-dated (aka low duration) bond ETFs might be worth considering for UK investors wanting to easily park funds in USD or Euros principally for currency exposure reasons. – timday Mar 20 '17 at 13:38

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