Willis: Swiss Franc’s Unpegging Surprised Us

The corporate treasurer at insurance broker Willis said the group was among those taken by surprise when the Swiss National Bank (SNB) removed the Swiss franc’s (CHF) peg against the euro last month.

Joe Peka, head of UK treasury at Willis, was responding to a question at the Association of Corporate Treasurers’ (ACT) 2015 London cash management conference in London.

Asked how he had dealt with the Swiss currency’s volatility since the SNB’s move on January 15 – which caused consternation among treasurers as the CHF’s value rose sharply against the euro – Peka admitted that, like most in the industry, he was taken by surprise.

“Fortunately, we had done our euro trades before the surprise SNB move, so we were lucky,” said Peka. “Also, Willis is not exposed to the CHF too much.”

“The euro fall was the real concern for us,” he added, revealing that the Japanese yen (JPY) and US dollar (USD) were, together with the euro, Willis’ key currencies and not CHF.

The fact that Willis had completed its euro trading moves, hedging the currency before it too was caught up in the fallout from the SNB’s move saved the group from any negative consequences.

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