What are the risks in options trading?

The majority of trading strategies used by options investors are limited both in terms of risks and profitability. Options strategies, as the typical disclaimer points out, are not get-rich-quick schemes. These may have lost potential beyond computation. options trading risks, therefore, merit our undivided attention.

Transactions usually need less capital than equivalent stock transactions. They may return smaller dollar figures but a possibly greater percentage of the investment compared to equivalent stock transactions.

Even investors using options in speculative strategies like writing uncovered calls do not generally realize dramatic returns. The possible profit is limited to the contract’s received premium. The possible loss is frequently unlimited. While leverage implies the percentage returns to be significant, the amount of cash needed is smaller compared to equivalent stock transactions.

Despite options not being appropriate for all users, they remain one of the most flexible investment choices. Options may be used to apply a bullish, bearish, or neutral strategy. They may be used for income generation, speculation, or hedging.

Risk reduction: options trading risks

Hedging with a protective put

For lots of investors, options are risk management tools. They are a hedge against a drop n stock prices. For instance, if an investor is worried that the price in their share of some Corporation is about to plummet, they can buy pouts that can entitle them to sell the stock at the strike price, regardless of how low the market price is plunges before expiration. At the option’s premium’s cost, the investor has hedged themselves against losses below the strike price.

Hedging with options may help with risk management. However, all investments carry some risk. As far as returns go, there are no guarantees. Investors using options for risk management search for ways to limit a potential loss. They may opt to buy options, given that loss is limited to the price paid for the premium. In return, they gain the right to buy/sel the underlying at an appropriate price. They may also profit from an appreciation in the premium’s value. They can sell it back to the market, and not exercise it.

Given that option writers are now and then forced to buy/sel stock at an imprudent price, the risk associated with specific short positions could be higher.

Many options strategies are intended for risk minimization. Getting existing portfolios achieves this. Options are undoubtedly safety nets. However, they are not risk-free. Given that transactions generally open and close in the short term, gains may be swiftly realized. Loses are as quick to mount as profits.

It is vital to understand the risks associated with writing, holding, and trading options prior to your including them in your investment portfolio.

Risk to the principal: options trading risks

Similar to other securities — bonds, stocks, mutual funds — options imply no guarantees. It is perfectly possible to lose the entire principal invested, and sometimes more.

Being the holder of an option, you risk the whole amount of the premium you pay. However, as an options writer, you take on a much higher level of risk. For instance, if you write an uncovered call, you dace unlimited loss, given that there is no cap on the degree to which a stock price may appreciate.

Since initial options investments generally need less capital than equivalent stock positions, your possible cash losses as an options investor are generally smaller than if you had purchased the underlying stock or sold the short stock. Contrary to this general rule, may also happen, when you offer leverage with options. Percentage returns are undoubtedly high. But percentage losses may be high as well.

Brief recap: options trading risks

We take a brief look at options trading risks -

  • Long positions

These refer to call and put buyers. If you purchase a call or a put, your risk is defined. The reason is that the most you can lose is your investment, or the premium paid for the option, and the commissions ;

  • Short positions

These are call-and-put sellers. When selling/writing calls or puts, the most you may earn is the premium you get for selling the option, minus commissions.

When selling naked calls, implying that you have no ownership of the underlying asset, there’s a risk of unlimited loss, given that there’s no limit on how high a stock’s price may appreciate.

Selling naked puts is also risky. There's a maximum loss that can be reached. That accentuates when a stock plummets to zero. Both are taken as advanced options strategies.

With covered call writing — when you own a stock and sell a call option on it — there’s the risk that your stock may be called away by the option’s buyer. Being the writer, you are under obligation to sell the stock at the strike price in case the call buyer is determined to exercise the right to buy it. In all likelihood, that will take place when the call option is in-the-money — when the stock price is above the strike price — the contact near or close to the expiration date. Be that as it may, a sale of your stock might not be what you expected.

The Options Clearing Corporation gives a comprehensive rundown of the risk and features of standardized options. Please be mindful, too, of impacting income tax rules.


Options success demands that you have a sound grasp of the company fundamentals. You also need to have a firm thesis about ways the business has been and will likely be impacted by internal operations, sector/competition, and macroeconomic effects.

Maybe you are one of those who believe options trading risks are too heavy a burden. But in case you are among those who believe this burden is offset by the rewards, and if you have the capital to withstand possible shocks, try limiting your downside with PrimeFin.




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George Thomas

George Thomas

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