What are financial derivatives? What is its importance and the most important types?

A financial derivative or financial derivatives are financial contracts that derive their value from an underlying asset. The buyer agrees to purchase the asset on a specified date at a specified price.

Derivatives are often used for commodities, such as oil, gasoline or gold. category assets The other are currencies, most often the US dollar. There are derivatives Stock or bond. Others use interest rates, such as the yield on Treasury bonds for 10 years.

The seller of the contract does not have to own the underlying asset. They can fulfill the contract by giving the buyer enough money to purchase the asset at the prevailing price. They can also award the buyer another derivative contract that offsets the value of the first contract. This makes trading derivatives much easier than trading the asset itself.

What are financial derivatives?

Derivatives can be defined as financial instruments whose price is determined by the value of another asset. Such an asset, i.e. the underlying asset, can in principle be any other product, such as a foreign currency, an interest rate, a stock, an index or a commodity.

Financial derivatives include many options, warrants, forwards, currency and interest rate swaps.

Derivatives related transactions and the corresponding stocks are aggregated from assets and liabilities Separately, separate from the underlying assets.

Capital flows generated by financial derivatives are also recorded as aggregate changes, so their flow data is divided into assets and liabilities. Payment flows (cash flows) arising from contracts with non-residents that materialize during the reference period are recorded in the total changes.

These streams include, for example, premiums paid at inception of standardized derivative contracts, interim payments made during the life of contracts (non-repayable margin payments) and net amount paid at closing of contracts, as well as all net payments. between parties to non-standardized contracts.

Derivatives inventory data is broken down into assets and liabilities. The stock of assets is fined as the sum of the derivative contracts with a positive market value, and the stock of liabilities, in turn, as the sum of the derivative contracts with a negative market value.

What is the derivatives market?

The derivatives market is part of the financial market, which also includes the stock market, bond market, and commodity market. The derivatives market is where traders buy and sell different types of derivatives, such as options, futures, OTC futures, and swaps.

Types of financial derivatives

There are generally four types of derivatives: forwards, futures contracts, swaps, and options.

1. Options

An options contract gives the buyer the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell something at a specified price on or before a specified date. In a futures contract, the buyer and seller are obligated to make the transaction on the specified date, while with options, the buyer has the option to exercise his option and purchase the asset at the specified price.

2. Futures contracts on the stock exchange

A futures contract is an agreement between two parties to buy and take delivery of an asset at an agreed price at a future date. Futures contracts are traded in stock market Contracts are also standardized.

Traders will use futures contracts to hedge their risks or speculate on the price of an underlying asset. The parties involved in a forward transaction are obligated to fulfill the obligation to buy or sell the underlying asset.

3. Futures contracts outside the stock exchange

OTC futures are similar to on-exchange futures, but they are not traded on an exchange, only traded over the counter. When creating a futures contract, the buyer and seller may have assigned the terms, size, and settlement process of the derivative. As over-the-counter products, futures contracts carry a greater degree of counterparty risk for both buyers and sellers.

4. Trade-offs

Swaps are another common type of financial derivative, often used to exchange one type of cash flow for another. For example, a trader might use an interest rate swap to switch from a variable rate loan to a fixed rate loan, or vice versa.

This means that a swap is an agreement to exchange future cash flows. Typically, one cash flow is variable while the other is constant.

Say for example a bank holds a mortgage on a variable rate home but no longer wants exposure to interest rate fluctuations, it can swap that mortgage for a fixed rate mortgage on someone else until a certain rate is locked in.

Advantages of financial derivatives

Unsurprisingly, financial derivatives have a significant impact on modern finance because they provide several advantages to financial markets:

1. Hedging exposure to risks

Since the value of financial derivatives is linked to the value of the underlying asset, contracts are mainly used to hedge risks.

For example, an investor may purchase a derivative contract whose value moves in the opposite direction to the value of the asset the investor owns. In this way, profits in derivative contracts may offset losses in the underlying asset.

2. Determine the price of the underlying asset

Derivatives are frequently used to determine the price of an underlying asset. For example, futures spot prices can serve as an approximation of a commodity’s price.

3. Market efficiency

It is considered that financial derivatives increase efficiency financial markets. By using derivative contracts, one can replicate the payoff of assets. Therefore, the prices of the underlying asset and its derivatives tend to be in equilibrium to avoid arbitrage opportunities.

4. Access to unavailable assets or markets

Derivatives can help institutions access unavailable assets or markets. Through the use of interest rate swaps, the company may obtain an interest rate that is better relative to the available interest rates than by borrowing directly.

Disadvantages of financial derivatives

Despite the benefits that derivatives bring to the financial markets, financial instruments come with some significant drawbacks. The defects led to catastrophic consequences during the global financial crisis of 2007-2008.

The rapid decline in the value of mortgage-backed securities and credit default swaps led to the collapse of financial and securities institutions around the world.

1. High stakes

The high volatility of derivatives exposes them to potentially huge losses. The sophisticated design of contracts makes valuation extremely complex or even impossible. Thus, they carry a high inherent risk.

2. Speculative features

Derivatives are widely regarded as a tool for speculation. Due to the extremely risky nature of derivatives and their unpredictable behavior, unreasonable speculation can lead to huge losses.

3. Counterparty risks

Although exchange-traded financial derivatives generally go through a comprehensive due diligence process, some OTC contracts do not include a due diligence standard. Thus, there is a possibility of counterparty default.

Why do we use derivatives?

There are two broad categories of derivative use: hedging and speculation.


Derivatives can be used as a way to reduce the risk and exposure of an investor. For example, suppose an airline is concerned that the price of oil will rise in the next year which will cause its fuel costs to rise and lower its profitability.

In this case, the airline can use a derivative contract (most likely a futures contract) to buy oil at a predetermined price in the future, thus limiting its exposure.


On the flip side, instead of using derivatives to reduce risk, speculators can use derivatives to make profits from it.

For example, if I believe the stock price will rise over the next six months, I can buy an option at today’s price and potentially make a big profit if the stock rises significantly.

How to trade in the derivatives market

  1. You need to understand the workings of the derivatives markets before trading. The strategies applied in derivatives are completely different from those in Stock market.
  2. The derivatives market requires you to deposit a margin amount before trading can begin. The margin amount cannot be withdrawn until the position is settled. Moreover, you need to replenish the amount when it falls below the minimum level.
  3. You must have an active trading account that allows derivatives trading. If you use the services of an intermediary, you can place orders online or by phone.
  4. To choose stocks, you need to consider factors such as cash on hand, margin requirements, contract price, and the price of the underlying shares. Make sure everything is within your budget.
  5. You can choose to stay invested until expiry to settle the deal. In this scenario, you either pay the full amount owed or enter into an opposing trade.


This tale illustrates how derivatives can transfer risk (and the attendant rewards) from risk avoiders to risk seekers.

although Warren Buffett Dubbed “financial weapons of mass destruction,” derivative contracts can be extremely useful tools, provided they are used correctly. Derivative contracts have the potential to enhance the functionality of the overall financial system.

common questions

What are financial derivatives?

Derivatives are financial contracts whose value is tied to the value of the underlying asset. They are complex financial instruments used for various purposes, including hedging and accessing additional assets or markets.

What are some examples of derivatives?

Common examples of derivatives include futures contracts, options contracts, and credit default swaps. In addition, there are a large number of derivative contracts designed to meet the needs of a variety of counterparties. In fact, since many derivatives are traded over the counter (OTC), they can in principle be infinitely allocated.

What is the purpose of financial derivatives?

The main purpose of a financial derivative is management and especially risk mitigation. When a financial derivative contract is entered into, one of the parties to the transaction usually wishes to free itself from certain risks, associated with its trading activities, such as currency or interest rate risk, over a certain period of time.

Are derivatives a good investment?

Derivatives can be good investments and be used to your advantage if used correctly. Due to its natural complexity, it can also be detrimental to your portfolio. To reduce the risks involved in derivatives and turn them into sound investments, you must know how to use them to your advantage.

What is the difference between equity and derivatives?

Equity is the difference between the value of the assets and the value of the liabilities of something like a car or stock owned by a company. Derivatives are financial contracts that derive their value from a causal origin. These can be stocks, indices, commodities, currencies, exchange rates or interest rates.

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