Simon Hilton is a senior foreign exchange consultant at World First specialising in assisting private clients and companies with their foreign exchange transactions. Simon is authorised by the FSA to offer foreign currency options.
Expat Focus: Simon, can you tell us a bit about your background and how you came to work for World First?
I have a BA hons degree from the University of Reading in History and Politics and joined the company in 2006. I have since undertaken regulatory exams and obtained FSA approval to advise our clients on hedging their foreign exchange risk.Expat Focus: What services does World First offer and what is your own role?
World First offers a foreign exchange service for currency transfers as well as a range of foreign exchange products. Clients can purchase currency at ‘spot’ (for an immediate transfer) as well as being able to fix the exchange rate for up to 2 years in advance with a forward contract.
Our regular payment plans can be quite useful for those with commitments back home such as mortgage payments or if you receive a monthly pension which you would like to convert and receive in the country where you are an expat. You may also like to send part of your salary back to the UK on a regular basis.
World First has recently launched a new range of Currency Options. These products are suitable for transfers over £100,000 and allow you to fix your rate in advance but benefit if the rate subsequently improves.
I am responsible for assisting individuals with their currency transfers. I will take clients through the process from start (first contact) to finish (receiving the brought currency) and I will explain the different products and services we offer. I am also in charge of managing currency options and offering them to our private clients. As these are specialised products we have had to undertake regulatory exams and are authorised by the Financial Services Authority in the UK.
Expat Focus: What foreign exchange issues or challenges do expats typically encounter?
When transferring money abroad Expats often encounter poor exchange rates and charges from their banks. Banks do not generally provide a personal service for foreign exchange or update their clients about movements in the exchange rate. Therefore customers often tell me it is difficult to speak to the right person and get the best deal for their transfer.
We keep our clients regularly informed of the rates, do not charge any fees (on amounts over £5,000) and as we also have offices in both the UK and Australasia it is easier for them to contact someone during their own timezone to get advice and assistance whenever they need it.
Expat Focus: What is a typical day in the World First office like?
I arrive in the office around 8.00am and check the news for any economic updates overnight, as well as drinking lots of coffee! At 8.30am our in-house economist Jeremy Cook delivers his Morning Update to the office and online to our clients via the internet. During the day I follow the exchange rates for our clients, keeping them informed of any movements and any economic releases which may impact on their exchange rate. When clients are reading to transact I will arrange the transactions for them. As I am responsible for advising clients about currency options I will usually be discussing these products with our clients at some point during the day.
Expat Focus: If you had to give one piece of advice to our members to help them with their foreign exchange requirements, what would it be?
Plan in advance. I regularly speak with people who have left their foreign exchange transfer until the last possible minute. The result of this is that you have no control over the exchange rate you receive and it could cost you a significant amount if rates are lower than you initially envisaged. It is always a good idea to speak to a broker well in advance so that you can plan your requirements and avoid any nasty shocks in the exchange rate.
Expat Focus: What are your plans for the future?
I would hope to undertake further studies in the field of securities and further broaden my knowledge about foreign exchange and the markets. We are a rapidly growing company so I would like to work abroad if World First open an office in Asia or America in the future.
Expat Focus: What do you do to relax?
I enjoy going to the cinema and the pub with friends, and travelling abroad when I can get away from the office.