Synthetic Position

A trading option used to simulate the features of another comparable position

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What is Synthetic Position?

A synthetic position is a trading option used to simulate the features of another comparable position. More specifically, a synthetic position is created to simulate a similar reward or risk profile as that of a comparable position.

In the field of options trading, a synthetic position is developed in two ways. A synthetic position can be created by combining different contracts or options to match a short or long position on the stock. The other approach involves using a series of options stocks or contracts to simulate a standard options trading approach.

Synthetic Position Finance

Why Use Synthetic Positions?

Options traders prefer synthetic positions because they are flexible and cost-friendly. For starters, synthetic positions can be used to swap positions when expectations change without necessitating the closure of the existing ones.

Secondly, once a synthetic position is already occupied, it is possible to shift expectations.

Thirdly, the flexibility of synthetic positions means that there is no need to make frequent transactions. In such a way, an existing position can be transformed into synthetic form, as expectations can change any time.

Equally, if a synthetic position is already held and there is a need to benefit from existing market conditions, an individual can simply make adjustments without the need to make a total change.

Types of Synthetic Positions

Generally, there are about four synthetic positions, and they are used for a number of reasons.

1. Synthetic Long Stock

The synthetic long stock position involves emulating the potential results of owning actual stock by using trade options. To develop one, an individual needs to buy at the stock money calls and then record at money puts of an equivalent stock.

The price paid at the calls is earned by the money received once puts are written, meaning that if the stock fails to increase in price, there would be no loss or gain. Ideally, it is almost the same as holding stock.

On the other hand, if stock prices increase, the money calls would generate a profit, and if the price decreases, then the puts would transform into a loss. The likely profit or loss is essentially equal to owning the stock.

The benefit, in this case, comes from the accruing leverage. The capital obligation needed when creating a synthetic position is less than when purchasing an equivalent stock.

2. Synthetic Short Stock

The synthetic short stock position is equivalent to short-selling existing stock. However, the position uses options only. Creating such a position calls for writing on relevant stocks at the money calls. Afterward, the same stock is bought at the money puts.

In case the stock does not increase in price, the outcome is considered neutral. The capital base needed to purchase puts is recovered once calls are written. Thus, if the price of the stock drops, there would be a gain made through the purchased puts.

However, if the price increases, it would translate into a loss because of the written calls. The possible profit or loss is approximately equal to what the outcome would be if an individual short sold a stock.

The synthetic short stock offers two important advantages. One, there is a lot to be leveraged, and two, the stock brings in a lot of dividends. Once the stock is short sold and it generates dividend, the stakeholders are entitled to their share of the dividend. However, stocks under synthetic short position don’t require the seller to distribute a dividend to shareholders.

3. Synthetic Long Call

The synthetic long call position is created when stocks are bought through a put option, which enables the purchase of relevant stock. The mishmash of put options and owning stock with regards to the stock at hand is the same as owning a call option.

The synthetic long call is typically used when an individual owns put options, and the price of the stock is expected to fall, but expectations change with the hope that prices will increase.

Rather than selling put options and then buying a call option, it is much easier to reconstruct a payoff characterized by obtaining essential stock and then refashioning a synthetic long call option. Essentially, it would lead to a drop in the cost of transactions.

4. Synthetic Short Call

The synthetic short type of call requires short selling and writing a put on the essential stock. The positions reconstruct the features of a short call option.

It is often used where there is a shortage of puts and the price of the stock is expected to increase, but in the actual sense, the person interested in this stock expects the price to drop.

Rather than closing all short put positions and shorting all calls, the stockholder can simply recreate not possessing enough calls by shorting the relevant stocks. It will lead to a decrease in the cost of the transaction.

Final Word

The concept of synthetic position seems puzzling, and some people may be wondering why someone would choose to go through it in the first place. Synthetic options are important where options trading is concerned, and there is a benefit to using them. Some people find it useful at one point or another. All that a person needs is to understand what they can do.

Additional Resources

CFI is the official provider of the Capital Markets & Securities Analyst (CMSA®) certification program, designed to transform anyone into a world-class financial analyst.

To keep learning and developing your knowledge of financial analysis, we highly recommend the additional resources below:

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