With the 23rd June drawing ever nearer, the latest Brexit opinion poll puts the Leave camp ahead with 55% of the votes, bringing the pound to an 8-week low against 16 other major currencies. Lately there has been so much volatility in the foreign exchange market and grave concerns regarding the impact of a Brexit on the British economy, but there are some positives for a few amidst all the uncertainty.

Overseas Wage-Earners Benefit

For Brits working overseas, being paid in foreign currency and then transferring those wages back to the UK, this is good news. 

For example, Dave has a career in the oil and gas industry. He works offshore for weeks at a time and sends money home to his wife Marie each month to support her and the children. Because the pound is weak at the moment this gives Dave a higher rate of exchange when he buys sterling with his foreign currency, which culminates in more money landing in Marie’s UK bank account. 

To demonstrate how Brexit polls have contributed to the fluctuating rates of exchange let us compare 31st May (when the Remain camp were leading with 51%) to today when the Leave camp are ahead, looking at currencies in some of the world’s oil and gas producing countries:

GBP against…

Rate of Exchange May 31st 2016

Rate of Exchange June 14th 2016

QAR

5.3574

5.1438

SAR

5.5189

5.3073

USD

1.4716

1.4126

AED

5.4048

5.1886

CAD

1.916

1.8165


For a wage of say £5,000 equivalent for a British worker in Qatar they will now be sending home £207 more than they were 2 weeks ago.

Expats Returning to UK

This current devaluation of the pound is also advantageous if you are an expat intending to move back to the UK. It might be a worthwhile long term strategy to plan ahead and start sending some foreign currency back to your UK bank account now, taking advantage of the lower rate. 

Let’s say you are a British expat in Spain. The exchange rate 31st May this year was 1 GBP = 1.318 EUR and by 14th June it was 1 GBP = 1.2516 EUR. The rate of exchange from pound to euro has therefore reduced, meaning the pound does not buy you as many euros as it did. 

Now imagine you are sending money to your UK account to save for your planned retirement. 

The pound to euro rates of exchange above tell you how many euros you will get for your pound. If you are sending money to the UK you need to know the opposite, i.e. the euro to pound rate of exchange, calculated using the formula: x = 1/exchange rate. 

So 31st May 2016 you would have got 1 EUR = 0.7587 GBP and on 14th June 1 EUR = 0.799 GBP. This rate of exchange has increased so you are going to get more pounds for your euros. 

Talk to a Specialist

In both cases don’t pay extortionate bank charges, talk to a currency transfer specialist. They will help you to understand your options - in addition to immediate ‘spot’ transfers you can also talk to a specialist company about locking in today’s lower rate for up to a year, this is known as a ‘forward contract’. Most importantly they will look for the most competitive rate of exchange to suit your requirements.