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How to use volatility arbitrage in your trading plan?

Arbitrage is the practice of profiting from price differences in different markets. While there are various arbitrage strategies, one notable type is volatility arbitrage. It exploits the difference between the market’s forecast of future volatility and the actual volatility. 

This blog dives into the specifics of volatility arbitrage, shedding light on its mechanisms, strategies, and importance in financial markets.

Volatility arbitrage overview

Volatility arbitrage is a trading strategy that capitalises on the difference between an option’s implied volatility and its actual volatility in the market. Implied volatility is essentially a prediction of a security’s price fluctuation, which directly influences the demand for options and, consequently, their premiums. 

When there’s a discrepancy between the expected (implied) volatility and the actual movement of the underlying asset, opportunities arise for traders to exploit this gap for profit.

At the core of a volatility arbitrage approach is the creation of a delta-neutral portfolio. This involves adjusting the balance of call and put options to achieve a position that is indifferent to minor price movements in the underlying stock. The goal is to maintain a value that doesn’t fluctuate with the stock’s price but can still benefit from time decay and changes in implied volatility. 

There are volatility arbitrage funds, volatility arbitrage hedge funds  that specialise in implementing volatility arbitrage strategies to generate returns. These funds aim to profit from the differential between the implied volatility of options or other derivatives and the actual volatility of the underlying assets.

Volatility arbitrage– How it works?

Here’s how it typically works:

  1. Identify discrepancy: Traders first identify options where the implied volatility significantly deviates from the asset’s historical (actual) volatility.
  2. Delta-neutral portfolio: They then construct a delta-neutral portfolio by taking a position in the option and an opposite position in the underlying asset. For instance, if an option’s implied volatility is too low (making the option underpriced), a trader might buy (go long on) the option while selling (going short on) the underlying stock.
  3. Profit from adjustment: The aim is to profit when the implied volatility adjusts towards the actual volatility. If the implied volatility increases for an underpriced option, the value of the option rises, leading to a profit for the trader who has a long position in the option.
  4. Rebalance as necessary: Because options’ deltas change with the asset’s price, traders need to rebalance their portfolios to maintain delta neutrality. This involves adjusting the proportion of the option and the underlying asset in the portfolio to ensure it remains immune to small price movements in the underlying asset.

What are the benefits?

Volatility arbitrage serves as an effective risk management tool. By focusing on volatility rather than the direction of market movements, traders can hedge against market uncertainties without committing to bullish or bearish positions. This characteristic makes volatility arbitrage particularly appealing in volatile market environments.

Another significant advantage is the strategy’s flexibility across different market scenarios. Whether the market is moving sideways or experiencing significant trends, volatility arbitrage offers pathways to profit. This adaptability is crucial in maintaining consistent performance across varying market conditions.

Moreover, volatility arbitrage trading strategies are not heavily reliant on forecasting market directions. This reduces the reliance on accurate market predictions, allowing traders to generate returns based on volatility discrepancies rather than speculative market moves. This aspect of volatility arbitrage is especially beneficial in markets where directional trends are unclear, providing a more stable strategy for return generation.

Considerations in volatility arbitrage trading strategies

While volatility arbitrage strategies hold the promise of profit, they come with their share of challenges and risks that require careful management. Proper risk management practices are crucial in this space, as traders must constantly assess and monitor the correlation between selected securities, remain alert to swift changes in market conditions, and ensure they have sufficient liquidity to adjust their positions as necessary.

Implementing these strategies demands a solid grasp of options pricing and market dynamics, along with an awareness of the specific risks associated with each approach. Traders should engage in thorough research, employ advanced modelling techniques, and stay abreast of the latest market developments to make informed decisions.

A significant part of the strategy’s success hinges on accurately predicting whether the implied volatility of an option is overpriced or underpriced. Additionally, traders must estimate the correct timeframe for their strategy to bear fruit; misjudgments here can lead to the erosion of potential gains through the time value decay of options. Moreover, unexpected rapid movements in the underlying stock price may necessitate costly adjustments to the strategy, which can be difficult to execute depending on current market conditions.


Volatility arbitrage trading strategies offer traders a way to profit from the pricing inefficiencies between options and their underlying assets. It’s about creating a balance in a portfolio that’s unaffected by minor stock movements but benefits from changes in volatility. 

This strategy requires careful management and a solid understanding of market dynamics. Success in volatility arbitrage involves meticulous risk management and staying informed about market shifts. It’s a complex yet potentially rewarding strategy that demands skill, insight, and a disciplined approach to navigating financial markets.


What is volatility arbitrage?

Volatility arbitrage is a trading strategy that exploits differences between the implied volatility of an option and the actual volatility of the underlying asset. Traders create delta-neutral positions, aiming to profit from the adjustment in the option’s price as the implied volatility aligns closer to the actual volatility. This strategy does not depend on the market’s direction but rather on the volatility discrepancies, offering opportunities to gain from market inefficiencies without taking significant directional risks.

What is a volatility arbitrage strategy?

A volatility arbitrage strategy involves identifying options with a significant difference between their implied volatility and the expected actual volatility of the underlying asset. Traders then construct delta-neutral portfolios to exploit these discrepancies, aiming to profit as the implied volatility adjusts to reflect actual market movements. This strategy leverages the volatility of securities rather than their price direction, allowing traders to potentially earn returns from market inefficiencies without betting on whether the market will go up or down.

What is Delta arbitrage?

Delta arbitrage involves adjusting positions to exploit discrepancies between an option’s observed implied volatility and its expected actual volatility while maintaining a delta-neutral stance. This means constructing a portfolio where the overall sensitivity to price movements in the underlying asset is minimised, allowing the trader to focus on profiting from changes in volatility. As implied volatility converges with actual volatility, the trader adjusts their delta-neutral position to capitalise on this alignment.

Is arbitrage good or bad?

Arbitrage plays a crucial role in financial markets by promoting efficiency and liquidity. It helps correct price discrepancies across different markets, ensuring that prices for the same asset do not significantly vary. By taking advantage of price differences, arbitrageurs help bring prices into alignment across markets, contributing to fairer pricing for all participants. However, arbitrage requires quick execution and sophisticated strategies, making it more accessible to institutional investors or those with advanced trading technologies.

How to do volatility arbitrage?

To engage in volatility arbitrage, identify options where there’s a significant difference between the implied volatility and the historical volatility of the underlying asset. Construct a delta-neutral portfolio by taking positions in options and the underlying asset to offset directional market risk. Profit from adjustments in the option’s price as the implied volatility aligns with actual volatility. Regularly rebalance the portfolio to maintain delta neutrality as market conditions change.

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