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In finance, “synthetic” refers to an investment instrument that is created artificially by mimicking another instrument with the use of derivatives such as options, futures, or swaps. Synthetics recreate the risk-reward trade-off of another investment without actually owning it. They are commonly used for hedging, reducing risk, or gaining exposure to assets or markets that may be otherwise difficult to access.


The phonetics of the keyword “Synthetic” is: /sɪnˈθɛtɪk/

Key Takeaways

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  1. Synthetic data is artificial or simulated data created for various purposes such as testing, training machine learning models, or protecting privacy.
  2. The employment of synthetic data helps to mitigate several issues like data scarcity, privacy concerns, or imbalance in datasets.
  3. Despite these advantages, it’s important to remember that synthetic data might not truly replace real-world data due to its inability to capture unexpected anomalies and complex behaviors in the real world.



In finance, the term “synthetic” is crucial because it describes financial instruments that are created artificially by simulating other instruments with different cash flow patterns. Synthetic products, like synthetic options or synthetic bonds, are usually constructed using derivatives and mimic the returns of another asset, often for purposes of hedging, arbitrage, or gaining access to otherwise hard-to-reach markets or asset classes. These synthetic arrangements allow investors and institutions to obtain exposure to specific financial risks, take advantage of pricing inefficiencies, or manage their risk exposure in a precise, targeted manner. However, they can also involve significant complexity and risk, making an understanding of these products essential for investors who wish to use them.


“Synthetic” in the realm of finance or business is typically related to synthetic products or synthetic securities. The purpose of creating a synthetic is to mimic the cash flows, risks, and return aspects of a particular asset without actually owning the asset. Synthetics allow individuals or firms the ability to gain exposure to certain assets or markets without the necessity of buying the underlying asset. These financial instruments are created using other financial vehicles such as futures, options, or a combination of assets. The use of synthetics in finance is often associated with reducing risk exposure or facilitating financial operations that may not be possible with standard securities. For instance, a synthetic can be used to replicate the performance of a foreign stock market in a home country, thereby bypassing the need to invest directly overseas and possibly avoiding certain regulations or restrictions. Similarly, investors could use synthetic securities to hedge against potential losses in their portfolio. Overall, the flexibility of synthetic products has made them popular for a wide range of strategic financial applications.


1. Synthetic Leases: Synthetic leases are used by businesses primarily for real estate. These are off-balance-sheet operating leases that allow the company to control the property and gain tax benefits without having to list it as an asset on the balance sheet. This kind of financial arrangement is considered a “synthetic” transaction because though it has the characteristics of a lease, it’s structured in such a way that the company is treated as the owner for income tax purposes.2. Synthetic CDOs (Collateralized Debt Obligations): Synthetic CDOs are complex financial instruments that combine different financial assets to create a product with a specific risk and return profile. With this, investors can gain exposure to an underlying portfolio without having to own the portfolio outright. It was rather infamous for its role in 2008 financial crisis.3. Synthetic Futures Contracts: These are created by combining put and call options with matching strike prices and expiration dates. Traders use them to simulate the leverage and payout structure of a futures contract without needing to put up the large amount of capital that typically comes with trading futures themselves. This is possible since the total cost of both the option positions is generally much less than the margin required to trade the actual future.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Synthetic in terms of finance and business?

A Synthetic in finance and business is a financial instrument that is created artificially by simulating another instrument with the combination of other financial tools like securities, assets, or indices. The term is often used in the context of derivatives.

How does a Synthetic work?

A Synthetic works by combining the features of two or more financial instruments to replicate another. This could include combining assets, securities, or other financial derivatives to achieve a specific investment strategy or risk profile.

What’s an example of a Synthetic?

A common example of a Synthetic financial product is a synthetic ETF (Exchange Traded Fund). This is created by combining assets to mimic the performance of an index instead of directly holding the component securities of that index.

Why are Synthetics used in finance and business?

Synthetics are used in finance and business for various reasons, such as affordability, risk management, tax efficiency, and investment diversification. With synthetics, investors can simulate financial positions without buying the actual assets.

What are the risks involved with Synthetics?

Despite their benefits, synthetics can carry significant risks. For starters, their complex structure often leads to misunderstanding and mistakes. Market conditions could also affect the underlying instruments, leading to unexpected reverberations on the synthetic. Lastly, synthetics are subject to counterparty risk, as the delivery of the instrument depends on the other party’s financial stability.

Can individual investors use Synthetics?

Yes, individual investors can use synthetics, but they are more commonly used by institutional investors due to the complexity of the products. However, with proper understanding and advice, individual investors can also benefit from the flexibility and potential returns of these instruments.

What are some common types of Synthetic products?

Some common types of synthetic products include synthetic ETFs, synthetic CDOs (Collateralized Debt Obligations), synthetic futures contracts, and synthetic options. Each is designed to achieve specific investment objectives and mitigates certain risks.

Related Finance Terms

  • Synthetic Assets
  • Synthetic Derivatives
  • Synthetic Leases
  • Synthetic CDO (Collateralized Debt Obligation)
  • Synthetic ETFs (Exchange-Traded Funds)

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