This is a process of managing risk in options trading by preparing an asset portfolio whose delta rate of change is 0, also helps in hedging from variations arising from changing market prices as well as uncertain conditions.
It is a third letter of the Greek alphabet which in financial terms, referred as a rate of change of the price of an option.
An option strategy which is used to reduce risk of an option price moving rapidly shortly before the date of expiration.
Definition- Derivatives Derivates are defined as a legal contract between two parties to transact a financial instrument at a future date but with a pre-determined price. The value of a derivative is ideally linked to the value of the primary security or the underlying security, which could be a currency, stock, commodity, or security that bears interest. Types of Derivatives Derivatives, which are also a type of structured products, have evolved over the years, and at present, there are mainly four major types of derivatives. Futures Futures are contracts to buy or sell a specific quantity of the underlying financial instrument for delivery in the future dates. Originally designed to reduce the unsystematic risk or the market risk, such contracts now also allow investors or traders, to lock-in prices in the future. Watch: What are Futures in Stock Market? Benefits and Uses Futures are standardised contracts that trade freely on exchanges while maintaining a clearing system, which guarantees the trades. Futures provide benefit to both commercial producer and consumers while mitigating counterparty risk, which is one of the inherent features of derivatives. For commercial producers, futures contract allows them to lock-in a present price on their future sales, and by the same token allow them to know the price they would receive on their production. Likewise, a futures contract allows the consumer to estimate their cost of consumption in the future. For example, let us assume an airline, based on some assumptions, believes that the oil price, which is one of its highest costs, would be higher three months later down the line as compared to the present level. Thus, the airline company would be more likely to enter a futures contract of crude oil, which though is not the direct fuel input into jets, but jet fuels are derived from crude oil- allowing the airline to assess the cost of its future operations. Likewise, for a crude oil producer, the same contract would allow them to know the price they would receive on their future sales. Apart from the typical use of futures contracts, such structured products allow investors to participate in the price rally of an the underlying financial product. Investors and speculators typically enter futures based on their assessment of the future movement in the contract, which rarely leads into delivery – a phase of futures contract closure. Good read: Understanding Future Derivatives and Participants of Derivatives Futures Terminologies Maturity – The date when a futures contract ceases trading or cease to exist in the marketplace and get replaced with a future contract of far expiry. Volume – The number of contracts traded in a given time period. Open Interest – The number of futures contracts outstanding for delivery in each expiry. Front Month – The nearest delivery month. Also referred to as spot month or nearby month. Active Month – It is typically the month of the highest volume and open interest and is usually the front-month; however, an active month often changes ahead of expiry. Settlement – It is the settlement of the contract, which either happens on the basis of underlying financial instrument or cash. Initial Margin – Unlike the spot market, futures contract does not require an upfront payment for entering the trade. The initial margin is ideally a percentage determined by an exchange of the total value of the futures contract, which needs to be submitted in the trading account to enter a futures contract. Maintenance Margin – During its tenure till expiry, a futures contract fluctuates or changes price, depending upon the demand and supply dynamics, which leads to a change in the total value of the contract. A maintenance margin is a margin required to keep a future position open until expiry if the total value of the contract changes. This margin is typically decided by the broker, who provides leverage for future trading. Also, a maintenance margin requirement reduces the counterparty risk by prompting the parties to deposit the possible amount of default ahead of closing a position. Options Options contracts or simply options are contracts which unlike futures give the holder a right but not the obligation to buy or sell a specific amount of the underlying financial instruments. As options do not impose any obligation on the buyer to meet the commitments of the agreement, it calls for a premium, i.e., an amount or price for selling the right of performance to the other party. In the options market, these premiums are a freely tradable instrument, which investors or traders use for speculation purposes. The major benefit of options is the leverage it provides to low net-worth investors or the opportunity it provides to a retail investor, to participate in the price rally of an underlying security at a low initial cost, as premium prices are directly correlated to the price movement of the underlying financial instrument. Apart from speculation, mainly options contract is used for hedging purpose, as it allows the counterparty to purchase an underlying security at a pre-determined price in the future day by paying a premium. Do read: Equity Options: 5 reasons These can Bring a Change to your Investment Strategy Types of Options There are broadly two types of options, i.e., American style and European style. An American style option is an option that may be exercised at any time up to and including their expiration date. A European style option is an option that may be exercised only at expiration. Options Terminology Call Option – A call option gives the holder (call buyer) a right to buy a defined amount of the underlying security at a certain price and on a certain date by paying a premium to the call seller. Put Option – A put option gives the holder (put buyer) a right to sell a defined amount of the underlying security at a certain price and on a certain date to the put seller by paying a premium. In a typical day of the transaction, an option buyer pays a premium, and an option seller receives premium, which is the case of both call and put options. Strike Price – The strike price is defined as the price at which an option holder may want to buy or sell an underlying security. For example, a call option with a strike price of 100 gives the call buyer a right to purchase the underlying security at 100 from the call seller at a pre-determined date, irrespective of the market price of the underlying security. Expiration – The date at which the option buyer no longer has the right to exercise. Premium – The price paid for the right by the option buyer or the price received by the option seller for selling the right to exercise the option to the option buyer. In the Money (ITM) – A call option with the strike price below the market price of the underlying security or a put option with a strike price above the market price of the underlying security. Out of the Money (OTM) – A call option with a strike price above the market price of the underlying security or a put option with the strike price below the market price of the underlying security. At the Money (ATM) – An option with a strike price at or very close to the market price of the underlying security. Typically, option prices contain both an intrinsic value and a time value which could be gauged upon by understanding options models such as black-Scholes model and options geeks, i.e., Delta, Gamma, Vega, Theta, and Rho. Read: Guide To Vanilla Options And Its Types Forwards Just like futures, a forward contract, often shortened to just forward, is a contract between two parties to buy or sell an asset at a specific price on a specified date in future. However, unlike futures, forwards do not typically trade over exchanges and are ideally an instrument of over-the-counter (OTC) market. Also, forward contracts are more of a personal agreement between two parties that is not standardised, i.e., it allows both parties to choose basic attributes of derivatives such as quantity, expiration, date, amount. Unlike, futures, forwards do hold counterparty risk, i.e., the risk that one of the party in an agreement would default in the case of an extreme price move in an underlying asset, as it is not backed by a clearing system. Good read: Understanding Forward Derivatives and the Associated Risks Swaps Swaps are another type of derivatives that allow two or more parties to exchange their cash flows/ revenue stream or liabilities from two different financial assets. Swaps are broadly classified into three categories, i.e., interest rate swaps, currency swaps, and hybrid swaps. Interest Rate Swaps – It allows two parties to swap financial flow associated with two distinct debt instruments. Currency Swaps – It allows two parties to swap or exchange financial flow associated with two distinct currencies. Hybrid Swaps – It allows two parties to exchange financial flow associated with distinct debt instruments denominated in different currencies. Must read: A Flick Through Modern Derivatives: Swaps
What are Absolute Return Funds? Absolute return funds are a kind of investment vehicle, which holds the capability to produce smoother returns regardless of market conditions. These funds are also known as ‘target-return funds’ and ‘hedge funds’ in the financial market. Absolute return funds invest in a broad array of asset classes, with an intention to deliver returns in both rising and falling markets. Such funds employ several investment strategies, and as a result, their performance is not related to the performance of conventional asset classes like property, shares or bonds. Back in 1949, a famous Australian investor, Alfred Winslow Jones, formed the first absolute return fund in New York. He created a market-neutral fund at that time, which was able to outpace the average equity mutual fund of the US. For instance, in Australia, most of the absolute return funds aim to outperform the interest rate target set by the central bank. Some of the common absolute return funds operating in Australia, include Blackrock Australian Equity Market Neutral Fund, Firetrail Absolute Return Fund, Munro Global Growth Fund, Schroder Absolute Return Income Fund and Atlantic Absolute Return Fund. What are the Key Attributes of Absolute Return Funds? While absolute return funds are not a perfectly valid alternative to traditional funds, they hold some interesting attributes. These features include: Absolute return funds manager maintains the flexibility to invest in any given market environment, wherever they see potentially lucrative returns. Such funds typically comprise a portfolio of more defensive assets, wherein hedging techniques can be employed to prosper in a weak market. In optimistic market conditions, absolute return funds aim to capture most of the market upside by tapping assets exposed to high risk and fascinating return profile. Absolute return funds seem to have three goals: high positive returns, the low standard deviation of returns and returns that are not correlated with usual bond and stock markets. How are Absolute Return Funds Distinct from Traditional Funds? As the objective of an absolute return fund is to deliver favorable returns in every market condition, they are different from traditional funds, which intends to outperform a specific benchmark index. Let us quickly browse through some key points of differences between absolute return funds and traditional funds: Investment Strategies: As absolute return funds assure a certain return despite the market conditions; they implement a broad array of strategies and assets than traditional funds to wade through market storms. Investment Types: Absolute return funds typically comprise investing in fixed income securities, international equities, currencies, commodities, derivatives, futures contracts arbitrage and related assets. However, traditional funds involve investing in traditional stocks and bonds. Index Performance: In contrast to the traditional funds, the performance of absolute return funds is not assessed against traditional market indexes like S&P/ASX 200 or S&P 500. Flexibility: Unrestrained by benchmarks, absolute return investment strategies can flexibly alter with emerging risks and changing market conditions, which makes them an appealing choice to diversify traditional portfolios. Reliance: Absolute return funds rely on risk-mitigation strategies, asset allocation and diversification to generate positive returns over market cycles. However, traditional funds compete based on returns against a benchmark by exploring the securities within an asset class that will give above-average returns. While absolute return and traditional funds can produce different results over the short run, both aim to cater to the similar broad objective over the long haul – to produce sufficient growth in capital. What are the Advantages Vs Drawbacks of Absolute Return Funds? Absolute return funds’ approach of consistently striving for positive performance, offers a broad range of potential benefits, including: Lower overall volatility of the portfolio. Reduce losses in down markets. Expand the sources of investment returns. Offer valuable diversification potential. Increase the risk-adjusted return of a portfolio. While the advocates of absolute return funds paint a colorful picture of such funds, the opponents highlight the following drawbacks: More expensive than traditional funds. Tend to underperform the traditional funds in strong markets. Do not guarantee high returns. Less compatible with an investment strategy where an income target is set. Can be more illiquid than traditional funds. What are Investment Techniques used by Absolute Return Funds? Absolute return fund managers use more complex investment strategies than conventional fund managers, conducting deep-dived research of investment assets. Absolute return fund managers use several investment techniques, which include: Borrowing or leveraging against the assets of the fund to potentially earn significant returns and increase the size of the investment portfolio. Buying or hedging an option, futures contract or warrant to retain the price of a security at present, offsetting the market risk of loss from volatility. Arbitrage to profit from price discrepancies in a securities market. Investing in distressed securities of government entities or companies that are either heading towards bankruptcy or are in default, assuming that capital injection or restructuring will improve the entity’s value. Short selling which involves buying an overvalued security and subsequently selling it to purchase back the security at a reduced price, returning it a later date. Any Key Points to Note While Investing in Absolute Return Funds? While investing in absolute return funds seems encouraging, such funds are designed to suit investors who desire to access growth assets with reduced volatility than traditional funds. Besides, fees are an important consideration of absolute return funds, which an investor need not neglect in making hasty decisions. Absolute return fund managers charge a sizeable amount than benchmark-aware fund managers, with their fees comprising both performance and management fees. Investors can understand the way these fees are calculated, considering the below factors: whether there are hurdles and high watermarks in place for the performance fees whether the track record or return expectations can justify the amount of fees