The risks of listed options trading: Common pitfalls and how to avoid them

The risks of listed options trading: Common pitfalls and how to avoid them

Listed options trading is a derivative financial instrument that allows investors to speculate on the future price direction of an underlying asset. It consists of buying or selling call and put options, which are contracts binding the buyer or seller to buy or sell a specified amount of an asset at a predetermined date and price. 

Options offer traders various advantages over traditional methods such as stocks, bonds, and futures, including limited risk, greater flexibility, low capital outlay compared to stock purchase, and the ability to leverage existing investments.

Though listed options trading can be highly profitable if employed correctly, there are some common pitfalls that inexperienced traders should be aware of before entering into this type of investment. Below are some critical risks associated with listed options trading:


The most common mistake made by traders new to listed options is over-leveraging their investments. Options contracts are leveraged instruments that allow investors to take on much more prominent positions than they would with traditional stocks or bonds. It means that even small movements in the underlying security can have an outsized effect on your portfolio. It also means that losses can quickly add up if you aren’t careful. Limiting your position size relative to your capital is best to protect yourself from this risk.


Another risk with trading listed options is the potential for significant volatility in the underlying security prices, which can lead to rapid changes in your portfolio’s value and make it difficult to accurately predict when or if you can realise a profit. To protect yourself from this risk, it is essential to focus on strategies that rely more heavily on time than price movements, such as vertical spreads and calendars. Additionally, always have an exit plan ready and stick to it if things get out of hand.

Market inefficiency

Many traders need to recognise the inherent market inefficiencies in listed options markets. For example, certain stocks may be subject to greater volatility than others, which can affect the prices of options contracts on those stocks. Additionally, listed options markets often need to accurately reflect underlying fundamentals and market sentiment changes, making predicting how prices will move difficult. To protect yourself from this risk, keeping an eye on critical indicators such as volatility and liquidity when selecting positions is essential.

The benefits of trading listed options

The benefits of trading listed options are numerous and can provide investors a great way to diversify their portfolios. Options allow traders to leverage existing investments while limiting risk by capping losses at the cost of the option premium. It means that even small moves in the underlying security can generate significant profits. Additionally, options contracts allow for greater flexibility than traditional stocks or bonds, enabling traders to tailor their trades more precisely to suit their needs.

Options also provide access to markets that may otherwise be inaccessible due to high capital requirements or limited liquidity. For example, some exotic derivatives, such as variance swaps, are only available through options contracts, not traditional instruments such as stocks or futures contracts. Furthermore, since most options have short-term expiries compared to other financial instruments, they enable traders to quickly take advantage of new opportunities without waiting for long-term price movements for a position’s value to increase significantly.

Listed options trading allows investors to hedge against potential risks associated with other positions in their portfolio without having to liquidate them entirely. By buying put options on securities that you already own (or vice versa), you can protect yourself from sudden price drops while retaining exposure to any gains that may occur.


Listed options trading is a powerful tool for investors but like all tools; it must be used responsibly. By understanding the risks and benefits associated with listed options trading, you can ensure that your investments are protected while taking advantage of potential opportunities in the market. With careful planning and diligence, traders can use listed options to diversify their portfolios and enhance returns while limiting risk exposure.