Derivatives use and risk management practices by UK nonfinancial companies

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26 Citations (Scopus)


In the last two decades, a number of studies have examined the risk management practices within nonfinancial companies. For instance, some studies report on the use of derivatives by nonfinancial firms. Yet, another group of researchers has investigated the determinants of corporate hedging policies. These and other studies of similar focus have made important contributions to the literature. This study sheds light on derivatives use and risk management practices in the UK market.

This paper presents the results of a questionnaire survey, which focused on determining the reasons for using or not using derivatives for 401 UK nonfinancial companies. Furthermore, it investigates the extent to which derivatives are used, and how they are used.

The results indicate that larger firms are more likely to use derivatives than medium and smaller firms, public companies are more likely to use derivatives than private firms, and derivatives usage is greatest among international firms. The results also show that, of firms not using derivatives, half of firms do not use these derivative instruments because their exposures are not significant and that the most important reasons they do not use derivatives are: concerns about disclosures of derivatives activity required under FASB rules, and costs of establishing and maintaining derivatives programmes exceed the expected benefits. The results show that foreign exchange risk is the risk most commonly managed with derivatives and interest rate risk is the next most commonly managed risk. The results also indicate that the most important reason for using hedging with derivatives is managing the volatility in cash flows.

Research limitations/implications
As with other survey research, a major limitation is that responses might represent personal opinions. We cannot verify that the opinions coincide with actions. We suggest that further research could improve the understanding of firms’ derivatives use by including more detailed data, different time spans, and larger samples.

To highlight the extent of derivatives usage and risk management practices in UK nonfinancial companies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-159
Number of pages23
JournalManagerial Finance
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Derivative markets
  • United Kingdom
  • Foreign exchange
  • Risk Management


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