Almost one-third of small and medium-sized U.S. businesses (SMEs) depend on friends and family for international payments advice and nearly half cite currency fluctuations as a top concern for financial risk. Yet more than half (54 percent) do not protect themselves from risk when trading internationally, according to a survey by American Express.
"Small businesses tend to rely on friends and family for advice about operating their business, but when the financial stability and growth of your business comes into play, using a trusted international payments provider is critical," said Brett Weinhouse, Vice President and General Manager of FX International Payments, American Express.
Untapped Opportunity for U.S. SMEs
Some 40 percent of the U.S. businesses queried listed currency fluctuations as their number one worry; yet almost as many (37 percent) are equally concerned about "red tape" and "legislation" when trading internationally. In fact, seven percent of U.S. businesses polled said they were unsure how to work internationally versus two percent of their counterparts in the UK and just one percent in Australia.
"Smaller businesses often need to fund offices overseas or manage payments to international suppliers and no business should be intimidated by the prospect of paying in currencies other than their own," Weinhouse noted. "With 74 percent of SMEs believing that international trade is key to driving economic recovery, American Express FX International Payments can help managers and businesses quickly and easily navigate international payments."
Other key U.S. results revealed by the survey include:
- The U.K. and Italy are the European trade capitals for SMEs in the U.S.
- Nearly one quarter (24 percent) of U.S. SMEs spends less than one working day a month on managing their international payments, even though nearly one in five (18 percent) say that at least 50 percent of their business is international.
- The top currencies of concern for U.S. respondents are the U.S. dollar (55 percent), euro (20 percent) and Japanese yen (6 percent).
- Fifteen percent of U.S. SMEs who say they do not manage risk claim this is because they are unsure of the benefits of hedging, and over one third (36 percent) think it’s because they do not make enough international transactions.
Global SMEs Lack Confidence in U.S. Dollar
The U.S. dollar is the number one currency concern for both U.S. and Australian respondents, but number two in the UK, after the euro. Concern for the stability and strength of the U.S. dollar is the (joint) top reason (42 percent) why confidence has decreased in international trade. Despite the currency concern, the U.S., UK and Australian markets believe that increasing international trade will help drive global economic growth.
About the Survey
The American Express FX International Payments study, which polled attitudes on trade, risk management and currency issues, surveyed businesses in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. This research survey was conducted by Redshift Research and commissioned by American Express. A total of 1,500 interviews were completed overall, of which 500 were completed in the U.S. and a further 500 in each of the other countries. Interviewing was conducted during December 2010 and January 2011. The poll has a margin of error of +/-6.1 percent for a result of 50 percent at 95 percent confidence limits within each sample group.
About American Express FX International Payments
American Express FX International Payments helps businesses with their foreign exchange transactions and allows businesses to securely transfer funds around the world. Through its online platform, customers can transact around the clock on a 24/7 basis and make payments in 110 foreign currencies with the support of foreign exchange specialists. For more information visit www.americanexpress.com/fxip. American Express does not provide financial, legal or tax advice and recommends that customers consult their own advisers to determine whether and how to use the FX International Payments service.
About American Express
American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at americanexpress.com and connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpress, twitter.com/americanexpress and youtube.com/americanexpress.