Implied volatility is a key factor in listed options trading that can significantly affect an option’s price and the profitability of a trade. In this article, we’ll explore what implied volatility is, how it’s calculated, and its role in listed options trading. Before that, we will briefly explain what options trading is. We will also take readers through how you can open an account with a reputable broker to begin options trading. Without further ado, let’s begin.
What is options trading?
Options trading is a financial market activity that involves the buying and selling of options contracts. An options contract is a financial instrument that gives the holder the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell an underlying asset at a specific price, on or before a specific date.
Options trading can be used to generate income, hedge against market risks, or speculate on market movements. However, it’s important to note that options trading is a complex and risky activity that requires a deep understanding of the underlying asset, options pricing, and market dynamics.
One crucial factor that options traders must understand is the concept of implied volatility, which we will explore down below.
What is implied volatility in options trading?
Implied volatility is a measure of the market’s expectation of the future volatility of an underlying asset. In other words, it is a forward-looking estimate of how much the price of the asset is expected to fluctuate over a given period. Implied volatility is implied from the current market price of an option, which reflects the collective expectations of buyers and sellers.
The higher the implied volatility of an option, the more uncertainty there is about the underlying asset’s future price movements. Conversely, lower implied volatility indicates a greater degree of certainty and stability in the market’s expectations.
How does one calculate implied volatility?
Implied volatility is not an observable or directly measurable quantity. Rather, traders use calculations of an option pricing model, such as the Black-Scholes model. This model uses inputs such as the current market price of the option, the strike price, time to expiration, interest rates, and the current market price of the underlying asset.
By inputting these values into the model, traders can derive the implied volatility as the value that makes the calculated option price equal to the actual market price of the option.
The role implied volatility plays in options trading
Implied volatility plays a crucial role in listed options trading, as it directly affects the price of an option. Generally, higher implied volatility results in a higher option premium, while lower implied volatility results in a lower option premium. This means that options traders can use implied volatility to their advantage by buying options when implied volatility is low and selling options when implied volatility is high.
When implied volatility is high, the premium for an options contract is more expensive, making it more attractive to sell options. When implied volatility is low, the premium for an options contract is cheaper, making it more attractive to buy options.
Implied volatility can also be used to predict market expectations of the future movement of an underlying asset’s price. If implied volatility is high, it can indicate that investors expect the price of the underlying asset to be highly volatile in the future. Conversely, if implied volatility is low, it can indicate that investors expect the price of the underlying asset to be less volatile in the future.
A trader might look for options with relatively low implied volatility, as they may be undervalued by the market. If the trader expects the underlying asset to experience greater volatility in the future, they may buy the option at a lower price and potentially profit from the increase in implied volatility and subsequent rise in the option price.
On the other hand, a trader might sell options with high implied volatility, as they may be overvalued by the market. If the underlying asset experiences lower volatility than the market expects, the trader may profit from the decrease in implied volatility and subsequent decrease in the option price.
How to start trading options as a retail investor
Knowing the role implied volatility plays in options trading, there are several ways you can participate in the market if you are interested in this product. The most important thing is for you to approach the activity with appropriate caution and have a solid understanding of the market before diving in. Here are some steps you can take to get started.
The first step to successful options trading is to educate yourself about the market. Read books, take online courses, and study the terminology, pricing models, and strategies involved in options trading. You should have a clear idea of how options trading works, and what your risk appetite is. You should also know how to establish and stick to a clear trading plan.
Choose a suitable broker
Once you’re ready to start trading, choose a reputable broker that offers options trading services. Look for a broker with low fees, a user-friendly platform, and access to the markets and options contracts you’re interested in. You should also ensure that the broker you choose can give you the customer support you need and expect from financial professionals.
Fund your account
When you’ve chosen a broker, fund your account with the amount of capital you’re comfortable investing. Remember that options trading can be risky, so only invest money that you can afford to lose. Many brokers offer a few ways of funding, from wire transfers and funding with debit and credit cards to the use of online payment systems.
When you’re ready to start trading options, start with small positions to minimize your risk. Focus on learning and practicing different options strategies to find what works for you. This is where your trading plan will really come in handy. Have clear expectations and remember that you can always increase your position size, but it will be hard to recuperate losses.
Manage your risk
Options trading can be risky, so it’s important to manage your risk carefully. Use stop-loss orders to limit your potential losses and diversify your portfolio to minimize risk. You should also make sure you never trade with more money than you can afford to lose.
Monitor your trades
Finally, keep a close eye on your trades and monitor market news and events that could have an impact on your positions after you have opened them. Be prepared to adjust your trades as needed. If you do not think you have the capacity to monitor your trades and execute manual commands, you can set up stop loss orders that can be executed automatically.
In summary, implied volatility is a crucial factor in listed options trading that reflects the market’s expectations of future price movements in the underlying asset. Traders can use implied volatility to identify potentially undervalued or overvalued options, and profit from changes in the market’s expectations. However, it is important to note that implied volatility is just one factor to consider when trading options. Other factors, such as the underlying asset’s price movements and time decay, also play a significant role in determining the option’s price and profitability.