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Volatility Arbitrage


Volatility Arbitrage is a trading strategy that aims to profit from the difference between the forecasted future price-volatility of an asset and its implied volatility. Implied volatility is a measure used in the options market that reflects expectations about the magnitude of future price movements. Through this strategy, traders seek to exploit the price discrepancies of derivatives such as options, that could arise from fluctuating levels of volatility.


The phonetics of “Volatility Arbitrage” is: vɑːləˈtɪlɪti ˈɑːrbɪtrɑːʒ

Key Takeaways

1. Concept and Functionality: Volatility Arbitrage is a financial technique commonly employed by quantitative traders to identify inconsistently priced securities. It’s based on the concept of buying a security that is expected to increase in volatility and simultaneously selling a security that is expected to decrease in volatility. Through this, investors aim to profit from the price differences in an underlying security and its options.

2. Risk and Opportunity: One of the key aspects of Volatility Arbitrage lies in its risk management potential. It works well for managing risks related to volatility differences in a market, with the potential to yield considerable profits. Nonetheless, like all financial strategies, it carries a level of risk, largely connected to unpredicted market movement and price volatility.

3. Importance of Technical Knowledge: The effectiveness of Volatility Arbitrage relies heavily on advanced mathematical models and complex financial tools for identifying and predicting price variability. In-depth technical knowledge is crucial to understand the nature of the securities used and how their price might react in different market situations. Therefore, Volatility Arbitrage is typically used by seasoned traders or financial institutions with sophisticated trading systems.


Volatility Arbitrage is an important strategy employed in finance and investments to capitalize on the difference between implied volatility of an option and a forecast of future realized volatility. The concept is vital as it allows traders to gain profit from volatility discrepancies in a risk-neutral way, instead of being subject to the risky nature of price movements in underlying assets. This is often achieved by trading a delta neutral portfolio of options and their underlying stocks. The relevance of volatility arbitrage becomes apparent in market irregularities and inappropriate option pricing, thereby creating opportunities for traders to profit from anticipated volatility changes, rather than directional market moves.


Volatility Arbitrage is a trading strategy typically used by hedge funds and proprietary trading desks of investment banks to exploit the difference between the implied volatility of an option and a forecast of the future realized volatility of an option’s underlying asset. The main purpose of volatility arbitrage is to generate profits from the discrepancy between the expected and actual price change in an asset, making it a powerful tool in the financial market. This financial strategy is mainly used for investment purposes. Traders invest in different securities hoping for a discrepancy in their price volatilities, and the aim is to generate profits from this difference. It involves betting against the spread between the forecasted future price-volatility and the implied volatility of the same asset. When dealing with options and futures, this technique can provide traders with profitable opportunities. This arbitrage strategy is not without risk, however, as predictions relating to future pricing can be wrong, potentially leading to financial losses.


Volatility arbitrage is a financial strategy used by investors and traders where they attempt to profit from the difference between the predicted volatility of an asset or market and its actual volatility. Here are three real-world examples:1. Trading Options: Suppose an options trader believes that the volatility of a particular stock is about to increase dramatically. The market, however, predicts the stock will remain steady. The trader could use volatility arbitrage by buying options contracts for the stock. If the stock does become more volatile and its price jumps around as predicted, the trader can sell his options contracts at a higher price and make a profit.2. Investment Banking: In 2008, during the financial crisis, many financial institutions experienced sudden and violent shifts in the prices of their securities, which had previously been very stable. Some banks, to cut losses, sold their holdings at low prices. Volatility arbitrageurs, seeing the mispricing of volatility, bought these discounted securities. When market conditions stabilized, the prices of the securities returned to their fair value, and the arbitrageurs made a profit.3. Hedge Funds: Hedge fund managers often use volatility arbitrage as a key strategy. For instance, a fund manager might believe that the market is underestimating the volatility of a certain index or sector. They could take a long position on an index or sector ETF while simultaneously taking a short position on options contracts. If the index becomes more volatile than predicted, the profits from the ETF will more than cover the losses on the options, earning the hedge fund a profit.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Volatility Arbitrage?

Volatility Arbitrage is a financial strategy used to trade volatility rather than price. It exploits the difference between implied volatility of an option and a forecast of future realized volatility.

How does Volatility Arbitrage work?

Traders using Volatility Arbitrage aim to sell options with high implied volatility and buy those with low implied volatility, profiting from the eventual convergence of implied and realized volatility.

Who uses Volatility Arbitrage?

Volatility Arbitrage is used primarily by sophisticated investors, such as hedge funds or proprietary trading desks at large financial institutions.

Why is Volatility Arbitrage significant in finance?

Volatility Arbitrage can identify pricing inefficiencies in the market, allowing for potential profit. It can also allow industrial traders to hedge their existing positions.

What is the risk associated with Volatility Arbitrage?

The primary risk lies in the potential difference between the forecasted future volatility and the actual realized volatility. If the two do not converge as expected, the strategy could result in a loss.

What is the relationship between Volatility Arbitrage and option trading?

In options trading, volatility arbitrage strategies exploit the difference in implied and realized volatility to trade options. Traders sell options with high implied volatility as they expect the future volatility to decrease and buy options with low implied volatility expecting it to increase.

Do individual investors frequently use Volatility Arbitrage?

Typically, Volatility Arbitrage requires a high level of market knowledge, understanding of advanced option pricing models, sizable capital, and risk management skills. As such, it’s often considered too complex or risky for individual investors.

Related Finance Terms

  • Option Pricing Models: These are mathematical models used to calculate the fair value of an option. These models play a crucial role in volatility arbitrage as they help traders identify mispriced options.
  • Implied Volatility: This refers to the market’s forecast of the likely movement of a security’s price. It is commonly used in the options market and is a crucial factor in volatility arbitrage strategies.
  • Delta Hedging: A strategy used to reduce the risk associated with price movements in the underlying asset by offsetting long and short positions. In volatility arbitrage, delta hedging is used to manage and minimize the risk associated with price fluctuations.
  • Implied Volatility Spread: A measure of the disparity between forecasted future price volatility of an asset, and the implied volatility of options. In volatility arbitrage, traders can exploit the difference between the implied volatility of options and the forecasted volatility to make profits.
  • Market Neutral Strategies: These strategies aim to avoid exposure to systematic risks in order to profit from the relative price movement of securities. Volatility arbitrage falls within the broader category of market neutral strategies as it attempts to exploit pricing inefficiencies without taking a directional bet on the underlying asset.

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