How to trade multi-leg options? - Price discovery, execution, leg risk, etc.

Discussion in 'Options' started by Alex123, Jul 15, 2011.

  1. Alex123

    Alex123

    Dear fellow trades,

    I am looking for some know-how on trading multi-leg options and would greatly appreciate any advice and pointers you would be willing to share on this. I am interested in all details: discovering market price, execution, leg risks, regulatory constraints, brokers, direct market access, etc.

    To get the ball rolling, let me start with the price discovery issue. As far as I can tell, please correct me if I am wrong, multi-leg options are not actually listed on exchanges and have to be constructed using vanilla puts and calls. The price obtained using the spread of the underlying legs, the implied price, is often absurd, for example butterflies have implied prices with negative bids and positive offers. So, surely, none in their right mind trades at the implied spreads. What are, then, the prices?

    Second issue is the execution. If the multi-leg options are not listed as a single instrument, how does one go about the execution? Can you submit an order to an exchange for a multi-leg option as one trade and have a guarantee that all legs get filled? What are the options and best practice here?

    Another issue is regulatory. Apparently, there is a regulation in the US that one cannot place limit orders in one type of option simultaneously on bid and offer. Is this really the case? Are the types of account that allow one to do that?

    These are just a few questions to get the thread started. However, any advice and experiences trading multi-leg options not directly related to these questions would also be greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks
     
  2. rmorse

    rmorse ET Sponsor

    The CBOE and ISE both have a complex order book. You will need a platform that allows you to enter your orders into the complex order book, usually up to 4 legs. A marker maker either on or off floor, or another customer, will do the other side of your trade if it works for them. You can't get legged and miss part of the spread. You either do it or your order will sits on the "book" until you cancel it.

    There is no regulatory issue here. Your not making two sided markets in the same option, your doing a spread.

    If you have the profile to use an introducing broker like myself, I can offer access to floor brokers that can "shop" your order to their other clients. We offer Institutional Customer Portfolio Margin accounts to professional traders.
     
  3. Alex123

    Alex123

    rmorse,

    Thank you for reading and replying to my post. I would be grateful if you could clarify some of your statements and if possible provide some further information.

    “You will need a platform that allows you to enter your orders into the complex order book…”
    What are these platforms?

    “There is no regulatory issue here. Your not making two sided markets in the same option, your doing a spread.”
    I appreciate that there is no regulatory issue here, however if I were to place two different orders in a multi-leg option, say two butterflies, such that a leg from one butterfly was on the bid and a leg from another butterfly was on the offer at the same strike – is there an issue here? Are there types of account that are not subject to these constrains?

    “If you have the profile to use an introducing broker like myself…”
    What is this profile?

    “We offer Institutional Customer Portfolio Margin accounts to professional traders.”
    Please elaborate on “We”, “Institutional Customer Portfolio Margin” and “professional traders”

    Many thanks
     
  4. If synthetic equivalents exist, you can avoid this.

    Re your first post, if the multi-leg position doesn't exist as a single order, look for a combination of the largest existing combos that achieve it. For example, a broken iron condor could be placed as two strangle orders or placed as two verticals. It's still a leg in (two positions). The reason for putting up all entry possibilities is because sometimes, better bids/asks come in on a different component.
     
  5. Alex123

    Alex123

    spindr0,

    Thank you for the synthetic tip and for reading and replying to my post. I would be grateful if you could clarify some of your statements and if possible provide some further information.

    “…if the multi-leg position doesn't exist as a single order…”
    I have looked at the sites of several option exchanges and have not been able to find any listed combos. Perhaps I was looking in the wrong places and I would be grateful if you could point out where I could find details of what combos are traded as single orders on which exchanges.

    Many thanks
     
  6. rmorse

    rmorse ET Sponsor

     
  7. I would assume that all of the exchanges support the same combos but that's no more than speculation.

    Each broker has a menu of combo orders that it offers and that's the limiting factor. Some offer more, some less.
     
  8. rmorse

    rmorse ET Sponsor

  9. Alex123

    Alex123

    But do they offer only those combos that are supported on an exchange? And how are they able to provide a guarantee that all legs will be executed (like, say, IB does for some combos)?
     
  10. rmorse

    rmorse ET Sponsor

    The spreads are ONLY represented as a spread, not limit orders on the individual options.
     
    #10     Jul 18, 2011