Related Definitions

Forward Market

What is forward market, and how does it work?

A forward market provides financial instruments that are pre-priced to meet the needs of future delivery. It is most usually associated with the foreign exchange market, although it can also relate to interest rates, commodities and securities.

Financial instruments are assets that could be traded, or they may alternatively be regarded as capital packages that could be traded. Most financial instruments allow for efficient cash flow and transfer among investors worldwide. Cash, a contractual right to receive or give money or another sort of financial instrument, or proof of one's ownership of a firm are all instances of assets. Financial instruments also include bills of exchange, bonds, forward rate agreements, swaps, futures, equity and cap.

Furthermore, a simple definition of the forward market is the marketplace used to decide the price of assets, financial instruments and forward contracts and purchase and sell them. Trading of instruments also takes place on such a market.

It gives the parties the option of customising the contract by permitting them to decide the rate, quantity, and time at which the contract is to be completed.

Forward markets function on a day-to-day basis. The hour-ahead forward market has been used to adjust deviations from the day-ahead schedule, and retailers or suppliers execute their produced or needed power one day before actual power delivery.

Additionally, the forward market facilitates foreign exchange transactions involving future currency exchanges. The forward rate is the rate at which one currency could be exchanged for another at a later period.

For the most traded currencies, the forward rate quote is often close to the spot rate quoted at some time. Several commercial banks that engage in the spot market also operate in the forward market by accepting investor and company requests. They give quotes to investors or businesses who want to sell or buy a certain foreign currency at a future date.

  • A forward market provides financial instruments that are pre-priced to meet the needs of future delivery.
  • The forward market facilitates foreign exchange transactions involving future currency exchanges.
  • It is the marketplace that is used to decide the price of assets, financial instruments, forward contracts, and buy and sell them.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the definition of a forward contract?

Source: © Mrescape |

A forward contract enables a party to acquire or sell an asset at a fixed price at a future date. Forward contracts could also be tailored in order size, delivery date, and commodities such as precious metals, cereals, oil, natural gas etc. Depending on the arrangement, a forward settlement might be once-delivered or recurring monthly cash payment.

Because they are not traded on a centralised exchange, forward contracts are called over-the-counter instruments. They are, moreover, more vulnerable to default risk, but they also have a potentially higher return.

Investors or corporations involved in the forward market are also engaged in negotiations with a commercial bank on a forward contract. When a company decides to buy a foreign currency, it can participate in a forward contract by acquiring the currency in advance.

What are the pros and cons of trading in the forward market?

The following are some of the benefits of trading in the forward market.

  • The parties in the forward market are free to act as they like. It is extremely adaptable and beneficial. As a result, they can enter and choose rate, duration, and quantity at the time of delivery based on their specification, demand and requirement. 
  • The goods are usually traded over the counter in the forward market. Most institutional investors choose to work with them rather than engaging in future contracts. They have the extra benefit of adjusting the contract size, duration, and technique to their individual needs with over-the-counter products.
  • It is especially beneficial for parties who have specific commodities they will need to exchange in the future. This market offers a full hedge and tries to prevent numerous uncertainties so that parties can protect their contracts.
  • Parties might match their exposure to a period in which they can enter into a contract. They may adapt it to fit any party and change the duration. 

The drawbacks of the forward market are as follows.

  • In the forward market, getting a counterparty to enter a contract is quite challenging.
  • If a contract is entered in the forward market, it cannot be terminated, but since it is unregulated, there is a possibility of parties defaulting.

What are the distinctions between forward and futures markets?


The Commodity Futures Commission controls the futures market, and the forward market is self-regulatory.

Price range

Every day, the futures market sets a daily maximum pricing range; as a result, a futures market member is liable to just a restricted number of daily price fluctuations. However, price variations in forwarding contracts are not restricted daily.


Futures contracts are exchanged in a highly competitive environment, and forward contracts are negotiated through telex or over the phone. 

Source: © Alexmit |

Credit risk

If a seller defaults or a buyer defaults, the Clearing House of Future Markets ensures that currency is delivered on time. Meanwhile, a bank operating in the forward market must confirm that the party with whom it has the contract is entirely reliable.


Actual delivery settles less than 2% of futures contracts, although over 90% of forwarding contracts are settled.


Every futures contract needs a security deposit or margin, whereas forward contracts do not necessitate a margin payment. In most forward contracts, compensating balances are needed.

The location

Futures contracts are traded on established exchanges, but forward contracts are arranged between banks and their clients.


Commissions of intermediaries in the futures market are determined by brokerage fees and negotiated block trade prices. The commissions of intermediaries in the forward market are defined by a "spread" between the banks' purchase and sell prices.


Individual speculative transactions are permitted by future market brokers, although banks typically avoid individual speculative transactions.

Top ASX Listed Companies

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it.