Chances are high that at some point in our careers and personal lives each of us will benefit from the services of a specialist currency company. Few businesses would be able to purchase goods from abroad or make regular payments to suppliers without the services of their currency specialist firms. Whether families are buying large purchases from foreign firms online, taking holidays or going abroad for careers or retirement, they’ll encounter the need to make a transfer or exchange rate today from one currency to another. 

Given the diverse reasons for needing foreign exchange services and the range of providers available to choose from, the task of making a selection may seem daunting to those unfamiliar with the world of Foreign exchange. Especially for those considering making large purchases abroad-like retiring expats, for instance, who are already overwhelmed with life changing decisions, choosing a company to trust with their transfers can be stressful. What are the criteria one looks for in a financial firm, anyway? 

Seven simple factors to focus on when selecting the best foreign exchange firm:

1. Reputation matters to clients just as much as it does to the best currency companies. Any firm can hire an advertising company to invent spectacular claims and launch head-turning advert campaigns that have people on the tube taking notice. This brash branding is designed to attract attention and works (or else the companies wouldn't spend the money to do it) to gain the public’s trust. But where does one find out what verified clients say about the service? Trust Pilot is the UK’s most highly regarded client review site where companies are rated by verified clients who are not shy about posting complaints when they have them. Compare client ratings to find a firm that has been found trustworthy by their own clients.

2Customer service is the single most important factor when choosing one firm over another, especially for foreign exchange providers. When looking through reviews, check to see if clients make a mention of their dedicated dealer by name when praising the company. Firms that offer each client their own expert dealer are, in essence, giving clients the benefit of a free financial advisor who will work to save clients’ money. Dedicated dealers can suggest tools clients might not have considered and they will often have friendly, long term rapport with clients they have assisted over years. Companies with online platforms don’t offer the benefit of a dedicated expert with market insight. Especially for business and individuals making large purchases abroad, a firm which puts a premium on customer service will help clients reap the full benefits of the available services.

3. Being personally available for questions and concerns, is always better than offering an app with live rates or a tracking device. The theory many firms rely on when offering apps and tracking devices is that clients will be able to monitor their money and the market. But beware of those promising 24/7 service though a technological platform. Some big firms that advertise this actually aren't going to be able to assist anyone with the urge to make a transfer in the middle of the night. Again, the human factor wins out as clients with dedicated dealers don’t have to watch the market-they set rate alerts. Nor do those with dealers have to follow their money on a mobile app, their dealer is there to oversee that the funds are received when delivery was promised. Clients without dealers will have to chase customer service with queries when there are delays, so the promised convenience of 24/7 transfers isn't actually a benefit.

4. Look for a range of services for your foreign exchange transactions. Few people will only need to just send small amounts once in a while, and for them, there are companies who offer fast small transfers while others will make remittance payments their singular focus. For those with these requirements the ideal company is simply one that has the best service and rates to the country the remittance will be sent to. This limited range of products isn't applicable for business of individuals relying on a firm to save them money with international vendor payments and other regular payments, like pension transfers or large transfers such as property purchases. While clients need not understand tools like fixed forwards or stop limits, the full service firm they select should be able to recommend and fluidly execute these options to support their clients. If you are concerned about currency fluctuations, select providers offering rate alerts.

5. Competitive exchange rates are available that will improve as larger amounts of currency are exchanged. Too often people have habitually relied upon banks to make transfers and in doing so they've come to expect fixed fees that reduce the amount of money they receive. When making a large transaction, avoid companies that use a set rate, and often they are able to give that rate on an online platform, because a dedicated dealer would be able to offer a better return. Use a currency calculator to get an idea of the mid-market rate, but don’t expect any firm to be able to match the mid-market rate. If comparing quotes, however, it will be useful in seeing how close to that exchange rate each firm may come.

6Note minimum exchange amounts and fees, before making transfers. Often firms that offer a full spectrum of services will make smaller transactions, but since they are established to assist with complex business and individual accounts, they must charge a fee for these particular transactions. Unfortunately, not all firms have this sort of transparency, so don’t be dissuaded from using a company that states its fees for transactions under a certain amount. Consider consolidating smaller international payments to avoid fees and also get the very best exchange rates, as the company with a dedicated dealer will be able to offer a better return the larger the amount exchanged is. 

7. Once your research is concluded, register with the currency exchange company you have selected well in advance of a requirement to make any foreign exchange transfers. Sign up should be fairly straightforward but don’t expect it to be without some important compliance questions. Currency companies are highly regulated and must adhere to important regulatory requirements when serving their clients. Clients who wait until the need to make large transfers arises to research and then register with a currency company are only giving themselves unwarranted stress. As there isn't any obligation to make an immediate transaction, the peace of mind of knowing that you have selected the best company for your requirements and that they stand ready to be of service to you whenever you do need them is invaluable.