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Variable Ratio Write


A Variable Ratio Write is a complex investment strategy that involves the simultaneous buying and selling of options. It involves establishing a ratio spread of options, by writing more options than are purchased. Often used by experienced traders, it’s a strategy focused on mitigating risk, with profit or loss driven by the discrepancy between the number of options bought and sold.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Variable Ratio Write” is “Vair-ee-uh-bl Ray-shee-oh Rait”.

Key Takeaways

1. Risk Management Application: Variable Ratio Write represents an options trading strategy geared towards generating premiums income. This strategy utilizes the writing or selling of options for income. If used rightly, this strategy can yield steady profits over time. 2. Higher Return Potential: A Variable Ratio Write involves writing more call options than the amount of underlying exposure. Essentially, if the trader expects the underlying instrument’s price will not rise dramatically, the excess options can provide higher premiums for potentially higher returns. 3. Risk and Reward: However, the risk factor of this strategy could be significantly high. The risk exposure of Variable Ratio Write is theoretically unlimited because it involves selling more options than the underlying quantity. Thus, if the underlying asset’s price makes a strong up move, the loss could be substantial.


Variable Ratio Write is an important business/finance term because it presents a strategic approach for investors to generate income while mitigating risk exposure. Essentially, it’s an advanced options strategy where an investor owns shares in the underlying stock and writes more call options than the amount of underlying shares. They can do this against different stocks or against an index like S&P 500. This strategy allows investors to capitalize on volatility by writing options that provide premiums, thereby adding to their income. At the same time, since they own a portion of the underlying stock, they still have the potential for capital appreciation. By adjusting the ratio of options written to the underlying shares, investors can tailor their risk versus reward profile according to their volatility expectations and market outlook, thus enhancing their portfolio’s overall efficiency.


The Variable Ratio Write strategy is intricately used in the world of finance, particularly in options trading. The purpose of employing this strategy is to generate income from options premiums while simultaneously benefiting from the flexibility it proffers. It allows investors to potentially profit from both a rise and fall in the underlying asset’s price. With this strategy, investors write more calls than the amount of underlying shares they own. This structure intentionally leaves some calls uncovered or ‘naked’ , thereby paving the way for more income through the collected premiums. The use of Variable Ratio Write is optimal in a volatile market where there is an expectancy of substantial price swings. Investors are able to adjust the ratio of written calls to owned shares based on their market predictions. When an investor anticipates a bearish market, they may choose to write fewer calls than the number of shares they hold. Conversely, in a bullish market where the price of the asset is anticipated to rise, an investor may decide to write more calls than the shares they own. This strategy allows for a balanced risk-reward ratio, enabling an investor to potentially profit from price movements in either direction.


“Variable Ratio Write” is an investment strategy that involves writing more call options than the amount of the underlying security that is owned. The investor aims to profit from a flat or mildly bullish movement in the share price. Here are three real-world examples: 1. Stock Traders: A stock trader owns 500 shares of a particular stock but doesn’t expect a significant increase in its price in the near future. To generate additional income, the trader writes ten call options against the stock, hoping the stock will stay below the strike price of the options. The trader effectively executed a variable ratio write, increasing income from option premiums but also taking on increased risk. 2. Mutual Funds: A mutual fund owning shares of a specific company may perform a variable ratio write to increase its revenue. For instance, if the mutual fund owns 1,000 shares, it may issue 1,500 call options. The fund collects premiums from selling the options, boosting its yield. However, it must be ready to supply the additional shares if the call options are exercised. 3. Hedge Funds: Similarly, hedge fund managers may use this strategy for returns enhancement or hedging purposes. For instance, a hedge fund owns 2,000 shares of a certain stock, and it writes 3,000 call options against these shares, collecting the premiums. This strategy helps the fund to increase its income stream, but the fund will be obligated to sell more shares than it owns if the stock’s price rises above the option’s strike price.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Variable Ratio Write in finance?
A Variable Ratio Write is an investment strategy that involves the writing of two options at the same time with different strike prices. This strategy is often used by investors to simultaneously generate income and reduce risk.
How does a Variable Ratio Write work?
The investor simultaneously writes two options on the same underlying asset but with different strike prices. The number of higher strike price options is usually more than the number of lower strike price options. The aim is to generate income from the premiums and also create a safety net.
Who typically uses a Variable Ratio Write strategy?
This investment strategy is typically used by experienced investors or traders who have a thorough understanding of the option market.
What are the potential benefits of a Variable Ratio Write strategy?
The benefits of using this strategy include premium income from writing options and potential protection from a downward price move in the underlying asset. Depending on the strike prices and the proportions used, it may also benefit from a move upwards in the price of the underlying asset.
What are the potential risks of a Variable Ratio Write strategy?
The risks associated with Variable Ratio Write include the potential for unlimited losses if the price of the underlying asset skyrockets, as well as the potential for losses if the price of the underlying asset falls significantly.
Can anyone use a Variable Ratio Write strategy?
Although anyone can technically use this strategy, it is not recommended for beginners due to its complexity and potential risks. It is better suited to experienced investors who have a deep understanding of options trading and are comfortable with potential losses.
How does a Variable Ratio Write strategy relate to market outlook?
A Variable Ratio Write strategy is typically implemented when an investor has a neutral to mildly bullish outlook on a particular security. The strategy can provide investors with a profit if the security remains stable or increases moderately in price.
What’s the difference between a Variable Ratio Write and a Covered Call strategy?
While both strategies involve writing options, a Covered Call strategy involves writing just one call option against shares the investor already owns, whereas a Variable Ratio Write involves writing two call options at different strike prices, regardless of the number of shares owned. The Variable Ratio Write is a more complex strategy and can have higher risk.

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