Bank vs currency broker? Cost and service compared
Do most foreign banks charge for incoming transfers from the UK and vice versa, and do most currency brokers absorb these charges? Also, what are the different - and fastest - ways of sending money to an overseas account and which do brokers typically use?
Some overseas banks do indeed charge receiving fees, but most do not. However as there are many different banks and countries you may be sending funds to, it's best to check with your bank directly with regards to what these charges may be, as of course they could change their policy at any time.
To give you some examples, banks in Spain often charge between 0.5 and 1.0 per cent to receive or send funds, which could be substantial on a large transfer. Often negotiating with your bank prior to sending funds can reduce or remove this fee. Conversely French accounts usually do not make any charges to receive funds. In Austria, if you send more than €50,000 then a charge may be levied, however if you send your funds in smaller tranches then this can be avoided.
So with the expert knowledge a currency broker will have, there are often ways of reducing or avoiding fees, but the bottom line is that each different bank within each different country will have their own rules. For this reason it's always best to make these sort of checks well in advance of sending/receiving any funds, and leaning on the expert knowledge of a currency broker to help guide you through the process.
To answer the final part of your question with regards to the fastest way of making an overseas transfer, most brokers will use the same system as the banks; SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication). It is the fastest and most secure method of international transfer, and provides recipients with a guarantee that they will receive funds as payment and that the currency received is what was agreed upon during the transaction. Timescales can vary but funds are usually available within 24 hours.