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HKEX To Introduce New Option Classes

Date 20/02/2023

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) is pleased to announce today (Monday) the launch of three new stock option classes on Monday, 6 March 2023.

HKEX’s derivatives market had a robust 2022, with average daily volume rising 11 per cent to a record 1,302,889 contracts. The momentum has continued into 2023, with average daily volumes in January up 22 per cent from a year earlier.

New Option Classes to be introduced:

Details of the new options available in the  circular  issued today. General  stock options  contract summaries are also available on the HKEX website.

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) is a publicly-traded company (HKEX Stock Code: 388) and one of the world’s leading global exchange groups, offering a range of equity, derivative, commodity, fixed income and other financial markets, products and services, including the London Metal Exchange.

As a superconnector and gateway between East and West, HKEX facilitates the two-way flow of capital, ideas and dialogue between China and the rest of the world, through its pioneering Connect schemes, increasingly diversified product ecosystem and its deep, liquid and international markets.

HKEX is a purpose-led organisation which, across its business and through the work of HKEX Foundation, seeks to connect, promote and progress its markets and the communities it supports for the prosperity of all.

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MV 120 X 600 Hard to Reach

On any business day, new consecutive Strike Prices may be set for, or added to, each Short-dated Option Contract (other than the Spot Month Option Contract on or after the 5th business day preceding the Expiry Day) such that at all times there will be Strike Prices representing not less than 10% above, at, and not less than 10% below the at-the-money Strike Price of the Option Contract. On any business day in a given month, the at-the-money Strike Price of each Short-dated Option Contract shall be the previous business day's Closing Quotation (as defined in the HKCC Rules) of (i) the Spot Month HSI Futures Contract for any day prior to the Expiry Day; and (ii) the next month HSI Futures Contract for any day on or after the Expiry Day, rounded off to the nearest Strike Price, unless the Closing Quotation is precisely midway between two Strike Prices in which case it shall be rounded off to the lower Strike Price.

For Long-dated Options, Strike Prices shall be set or added in the same manner as for Short-dated Options except that there shall at all times be Strike Prices representing 5% above, at and 5% below the at-the-money Strike Price, rounded off to the nearest Strike Price, unless the 5% is precisely midway between two Strike Prices in which case it shall be rounded off to the lower Strike Price.

For both Short- and Long-dated Options, Strike Prices shall be set on a temporary basis at other intervals as may from time to time be determined by the Chief Executive in consultation with the Commission or at other intervals as may from time to time be determined by the Board in consultation with the Commission. The Exchange reserves the right to introduce new or delete existing Strike Prices at any time.

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What is Options Assignment & How to Avoid It

options assignment explained

If you are learning about options, assignment might seem like a scary topic. In this article, you will learn why it really isn’t. I will break down the entire options assignment process step by step and show you when you might be assigned, how to minimize the risk of being assigned, and what to do if you are assigned.

Video Breakdown of Options Assignment

Check out the following video in which I explain everything you need to know about assignment:

What is Assignment?

To understand assignment, we must first remember what options allow you to do. So let’s start with a brief recap:

  • A call option gives its buyer the right to buy 100 shares of the underlying at the strike price
  • A put option gives its buyer the right to sell 100 shares of the underlying at the strike price

In other words, call options allow you to call away shares of the underlying from someone else, whereas a put option allows you to put shares in someone else’s account. Hence the name call and put option.

The assignment process is the selection of the other party of this transaction. So the person that has to buy from or sell to the option buyer that exercised their option.

Note that an option buyer has the right to exercise their option. It is not an obligation and therefore, a buyer of an option can never be assigned. Only option sellers can ever be get assigned since they agree to fulfill this obligation when they sell an option.

Let’s go through a specific example to clarify this:

  • The underlying security is stock ABC and it is trading at $100.
  • Peter decides to buy 1 put option with a strike price of 95 as a hedge for his long stock position in ABC
  • Kate sells this exact same option at the same time.

Over the next few weeks, ABC’s price goes down to $90 and Peter decides to exercise his put option. This means that he uses his right to sell 100 shares of ABC for $95 per share. Now Kate is assigned these 100 shares of ABC which means she is obligated to buy them for $95 per share. 

options exercise and assignment

Peter now has 100 fewer shares of ABC in his portfolio, whereas Kate has 100 more.

This process is analog for a call option with the only difference being that Kate would be short 100 shares and Peter would have 100 additional shares of ABC in his portfolio.

Hopefully, this example clarifies what assignment is.

Who Can Be Assigned?

To answer this question, we must first ask ourselves who exercises their option? To do this, let’s quickly look at the different ways that you can close a long option position:

  • Sell the option: Selling an option is probably the easiest way to close a long option position. Doing this will have no effect on the option seller.
  • Let the option expire: If the option is Out of The Money , it would expire worthless and there would be no consequence for the option seller. If, on the other hand, the option is In The Money by more than $0.01, it would typically be automatically exercised . This would start the options assignment process.
  • Exercise the option early: The last possibility would be to exercise the option before its expiration date. This, however, can only be done if the option is an American-style option. This would, once again, lead to an option assignment.

So as an option seller, you only have to worry about the last two possibilities in which the buyer’s option is exercised. 

options assignment statistic

But before you worry too much, here is a quick fact about the distribution of these 3 alternatives:

Less than 10% of all options are exercised.

This means 90% of all options are either sold prior to the expiration date or expire worthless. So always remember this statistic before breaking your head over the risk of being assigned.

It is very easy to avoid the first case of being assigned. To avoid it, just close your short option positions before they expire (ITM). For the second case, however, things aren’t as straight forward.

Who Risks being Assigned Early?

Firstly, you have to be trading American-style options. European-style options can only be exercised on their expiration date. But most equity options are American-style anyway. So unless you are trading index options or other kinds of European-style options, this will be the case for you.

Secondly, you need to be an options seller. Option buyers can’t be assigned.

These two are necessary conditions for you to be assigned. Everyone who fulfills both of these conditions risks getting assigned early. The size of this risk, however, varies depending on your position. Here are a few things that can dramatically increase your assignment risk:

  • ITM: If your option is ITM, the chance of being assigned is much higher than if it isn’t. From the standpoint of an option buyer, it does not make sense to exercise an option that isn’t ITM because this would lead to a loss. Nevertheless, it is possible. The deeper ITM the option is, the higher the assignment risk becomes.
  • Dividends : Besides that, selling options on securities with upcoming dividends also increases your risk of assignment. More specifically, if the extrinsic value of an ITM call option is less than the amount of the dividend, option buyers can achieve a profit by exercising their option before the ex-dividend date. 
  • Extrinsic Value: Otherwise, keep an eye on the extrinsic value of your option. If the option has extrinsic value left, it doesn’t make sense for the option buyer to exercise their option because they would achieve a higher profit if they just sold the option and then bought or sold shares of the underlying asset. Typically, the less time an option has left, the lower its extrinsic value becomes. Implied volatility is another factor that influences extrinsic value.
  • Puts vs Calls: This is more of an interesting side note than actual advice, but put options tend to get exercised more often than call options. This makes sense since put options give their buyer the right to sell the underlying asset and can, therefore, be a very useful hedge for long stock positions.

How can you Minimize Assignment Risk?

Since you now know what assignment is, and who risks being assigned, let’s shift our focus on how to minimize the assignment risk. Even though it isn’t possible to completely remove the risk of being assigned, there are things that you can do to dramatically decrease the chances of being assigned.

The first thing would be to avoid selling options on securities with upcoming dividend payments. Before putting on a position, simply check if the underlying security has any upcoming dividend payments. If so, look for a different trade.

If you ever are in the position that you are short an option and the ex-dividend of the underlying security is right around the corner, compare the size of the dividend to the extrinsic value of your option. If the extrinsic value is less than the dividend amount, you really should consider closing the position. Otherwise, the chances of being assigned are high. This is especially bad since being short during a dividend payment of a security will force you to pay the dividend.

Besides avoiding dividends, you should also close your option positions early. The less time an option has left, the lower its extrinsic value becomes and the more it makes sense for option buyers to exercise their options. Therefore, it is good practice to close your (ITM) short option positions at least one week before the expiration date.

The deeper an option is ITM, the higher the chances of assignment become. So the just-mentioned rule is even more important for deep ITM options.

If you don’t want to indefinitely close your position, it is also possible to roll it out to a later expiration cycle. This will give you more time and add extrinsic value to your position.

FAQs about Assignment

Last but not least, I want to answer some frequently asked questions about options exercise and assignment.

1. What happens if your account does not have enough buying power to cover the assigned position?

This is a common worry for beginning options traders. But don’t worry, if you don’t have enough capital to cover the new position, you will receive a margin call and usually, your broker will just automatically close the assigned shares immediately. This might lead to a minor assignment fee, but otherwise, it won’t significantly affect your account. Tatsyworks, for example, charges an assignment fee of only $5.

Check out my review of tastyworks

2. How does assignment affect your P&L?

When an option is exercised, the option holder gains the difference between the strike price and the price of the underlying asset. If the option is ITM, this is exactly the intrinsic value of the option. This means that the option holder loses the extrinsic value when he exercises his/her option. That’s also why it doesn’t make sense to exercise options with a lot of extrinsic value left.

options assignment extrinsic value

This means that as soon as the option is exercised, it is only the intrinsic value that is relevant for the payoff. This is the same payoff as the option at its expiration date.

So as an options seller, your P&L isn’t negatively affected by an assignment. Either it stays the same or it becomes slightly better due to the extrinsic value being ignored.

As an example, if your option is ITM by $1, you will lose up to $100 per option or $1 per share that you are assigned. But this does not account for the extrinsic value that falls away with the exercise of the option. So this would be the same P&L as at expiration. Depending on how much premium you collected when selling the option, this might still be a profit or a minor loss.

With that being said, as soon as you are assigned, you will have some carrying risk. If you don’t or can’t close the position immediately, you will be exposed to the ongoing price fluctuations of that security.  Sometimes, you might not be able to close the new position immediately because of trading halts, or because the market is closed.

If you weren’t planning on holding that security, it is a good idea to close the new position as soon as possible. 

Option spreads such as vertical spreads, add protection to these price fluctuations since you can just exercise the long option to close the assigned share position at the strike price of the long option.

3. When an option holder exercises their option, how is the assignment partner chosen?

random options assignment process

This is usually a random process. As soon as an option is exercised, the responsible brokerage firm sends a request to the Options Clearing Corporation (OCC). They send back the requested shares, whereafter they randomly choose another brokerage firm that currently has a client that is short the exercised option. Then the chosen broker has to decide which of their clients is assigned. This choice is, once again, random or a time-based priority system is used.

4. How does assignment work for index options?

As there aren’t any shares of indexes, you can’t directly be assigned any shares of the underlying asset. Therefore, index options are cash-settled. This means that instead of having to buy or sell shares of the underlying, you simply have to pay the difference between the strike price and the underlying trading price. This makes assignment easier and a lot less likely among index options.

Note that ETF options such as SPY options are not cash-settled. SPY is a normal security with openly traded shares, so exercise and assignment work just like they do among equity options.

options assignment dont panic

I hope this article made you realize that assignment isn’t as bad as it might seem at first. It is just important to understand how the options assignment process works and what affects the likelihood of being assigned.

To recap, here’s what you should to do when you are assigned:

if you have enough capital in your account to cover the position, you could either treat the new position as a normal (stock) position and hold on to it or you could close it immediately. If you don’t have a clear trading plan for the new position, I recommend the latter.

If, on the other hand, you don’t have enough buying power, you will receive a margin call from your broker and the position should be closed automatically.

Assignment does not have any significant impact on your P&L, but it comes with some carrying risk. Options spreads can offer more protection against this than naked option positions.

To mitigate assignment risk, you should close option positions early, always keep an eye on the extrinsic value of your option positions, and avoid upcoming dividend securities.

And always remember, less than 10% of options are exercised, so assignment really doesn’t happen that often, especially not if you are actively trying to avoid it.

For the specifics of how assignment is handled, it is a good idea to contact your broker, as the procedures can vary from broker to broker.

Thank you for taking the time and reading this post. If you have any questions, comments, or feedback, please let me know in the comment section below.

22 Replies to “What is Options Assignment & How to Avoid It”

hi there well seems like finally there is one good honest place. seem like you are puting on the table the whole truth about bad positions. however my wuestion is when can one know where to put that line of limit. when do you recognise or understand that you are in a bad position? thanks and once again, a great site.

Well If you are trading a risk defined strategy the point would be at max loss and not too much time left until expiration. For undefined risk strategies however it can be very different. I would just say if you don’t have too much time until expiration and are far from making money you should use some common sense and admit that you are wrong.

What would happen in the event of a crash. Would brokers be assigning, options, cashing out these shares, and making others bankrupt. Well, I guessed I sort of answered my own question. Its not easy to understand, especially not knowing when this would come up. But seems like you hit the important aspects of the agreement.

Actually I wouldn’t imagine that too many people would want to exercise their options in case of a market ctash, because they probably wouldn’t want to hold stocks in this risky and volatile environment. 

And to the part of the questions: making others bankrupt. This really depends on the situation. You can’t get assigned more stock than your option covers. This means as long as you trade with reasonable position sizing nothing too bad can happen. Otherwise I would recommend to trade with defined risk strategies so your maximum drawdown is capped.

Thanks for writing about assignment Louis. After reading the section how assignment works, I feel I am somewhat unclear about how assignment works when the exerciser exercises Put or Call option. In both cases, if the underlying is an index, is the settlement done through the margin account money? Would you be able to provide a little more detail of how exercising the option (Put vs Call) would work in case of an underlying stock vs Index.

Thank you very much in advance

Thanks for the question. Indexes can’t be traded in the same way as stocks can. That’s why index options are settled in cash. If your index option is assigned, you won’t have to buy or sell any shares of the underlying index at the strike price because there exist no shares of indexes. Instead, you have to pay the amount that your index option is ITM to the exerciser of your option. Let me give you an example: You are short a call option with the strike price of 1000. The underlying asset is an index and it’s price is 1050. This means your call option is 50 points ITM. If someone exercises your long call option, you will have to pay him/her the difference between the strike price and the underlying’s price which would be 50 (1050-1000). So the main difference between index and stock options is that you don’t have to buy/sell any shares of the underlying asset for index options. I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions or comments.

Can the same logic be applied for ETFs as it does Indexes? For example, if I trade the SPY ETF, would it be settled in cash?

Thanks! Johnson

Hi Johnson, Exercise and assignment for ETFs such as SPY work just like they do for equities. ETFs have shares that are openly traded, whereas indexes don’t. That’s why indexes are settled in cash, whereas ETFs aren’t. I hope this helps.

There are many articles online that I read that are biased against options tradings and I am a bit surprised to read a really helpful article like this. I find this helpful in understanding options trading, what are the techniques and how to manage the risks. Before, I was hesitant to try this financial game but now, after reading this article, I am considering participating with live accounts and no longer with a demo account. A few months ago, I signed up with a company called IQ Options, but really never involved real money and practiced only with a demo account.

Thanks for your comment. I am glad to see that you liked the post. However, I don’t recommend sing IQ Option to trade since they are a very shady trading firm. You could check out my  Review of IQ Option for all the details.

this is a great and amazing article. i sincerely your effort creating time  to write on such an informative article which has taught me a lot more on what is options assignment and avoiding it. i just started trading but had no ideas on this as a beginner. i find this article very helpful because it has given me more understanding on options trading and knowing the techniques and how to manage the risks. thanks for sharing this amazing article

You are very welcome

Hello, the first thing that i noticed when i opened this page is the beauty of the website. i am sure you have put much effort into creating this article and the details are really clear here. after watching the video break down, i fully understood the entire process on how to avoid options assignment.

Thank you so much for the positive feedback!

I would love to create a website like yours as the design used is really nice, simple and brings about clarity of the write ups, but then you wrote a brilliant article on how to avoid options assignment. great video here. it was  confusing at first. i will suggest another video be added to help some people like me.

Thanks for the feedback. I recommend checking out my  options trading beginner course . In it, I cover all the basics that weren’t explained here.

Thanks for your very helpful article. I am contemplating selling a call that would cover half my shares on company X. How can ensure that the assignment process selects the shares that I bought at a higher price, so as to maximize capital losses?

Hi Luis, When you are assigned, you just automatically buy/sell shares of the underlying at the strike price. This means your overall portfolio is adjusted by these 100 shares. The exact shares and your entry price are irrelevant. If you have 50 shares of X and your short call is assigned, you will sell 100 shares of X at the strike price. After this, your position would be -50 shares of X which would be equivalent to being short 50 shares of X. I hope this helps.

Louis, I entered a CALL butterfly spread at $100 below where I intended, just 2 days before expiration date. I intended to speculate on a big earning announcement jump the next day. It was a debit of 1.25. Also, when I realized my mistake, I tried to close it for anything at all. The Mark fluctuated between 40 and 70, but I could not get it to close. So now I am assigned to sell 200 share at 70 dollars below the market price of the stock. I am having a heart attack. I do not have the 200 shares to deliver, so it seems I have to buy them at the market, and sell them for $70 less, for a loss of $14,000.

What other options are open to me? Can my trading firm force a close with a friendly market maker and make it as if it happened on Friday? I am willing to pay a friendly market maker several hundred dollars to make this trade. Is that an option? Other options the trading firm can do for me that would cost me less than $14,000?

Hi Paul, Thanks for your comment. From the limited information provided, it is hard to say what is actually going on. If you bought a call butterfly spread, your max loss should be limited to the premium you paid to open the position. An assignment shouldn’t have a huge impact on your overall P&L. I highly recommend contacting your broker and explaining your situation to them since they have all the information required to evaluate what’s actually going on. But if the loss is real, there is no way for you to make a deal with a market maker to limit or undo potential losses. I hope this helps.

What happens with ITM long call option that typically gets automatically exercised at expiration, if the owner of the call option doesn’t have the cash/margin to cover the stock purchase?

He would receive a margin call

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What Is an Option Assignment?

hkex option assignment

Definition and Examples of Assignment

How does assignment work, what it means for individual investors.

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An option assignment represents the seller of an option’s obligation to fulfill the terms of the contract by either selling or purchasing the underlying security at the exercise price. Let’s explain what that means in more detail.

Key Takeaways

  • An assignment represents the seller of an option’s obligation to fulfill the terms of the contract by either selling or purchasing the underlying security at the exercise price. 
  • If you sell an option and get assigned, you have to fulfill the transaction outlined in the option.
  • You can only get assigned if you sell options, not if you buy them.
  • Assignment is relatively rare, with only 7% of options ultimately getting assigned.

An assignment represents the seller of an option’s obligation to fulfill the terms of the contract by either selling or purchasing the underlying security at the exercise price. Let’s explain what that means in more detail.

When you sell an option to someone, you’re selling them the right to make you engage in a future transaction. For example, if you sell someone a put option , you’re promising to buy a stock at a set price any time between when the transaction happens and the expiration date of the option.

If the holder of the option doesn’t do anything with the option by the expiration date, the option expires. However, if they decide that they want to go through with the transaction, they will exercise the option. 

If the holder of an option chooses to exercise it, the seller will receive a notification, called an assignment, letting them know that the option holder is exercising their right to complete the transaction. The seller is legally obligated to fulfill the terms of the options contract.

For example, if you sell a call option on XYZ with a strike price of $40 and the buyer chooses to exercise the option, you’ll be assigned the obligation to fulfill that contract. You’ll have to buy 100 shares of XYZ at whatever the market price is, or take the shares from your own portfolio and sell them to the option holder for $40 each.

Options traders only have to worry about assignment if they sell options contracts. Those who buy options don’t have to worry about assignment because in this case, they have the power to exercise a contract, or choose not to.

The options market is huge, in that options are traded on large exchanges and you likely do not know who you’re buying contracts from or selling them to. It’s not like you sell an option to someone you know and they send you an email if they choose to exercise the contract, rather it is an organized process.

In the U.S., the Options Clearing Corporation (OCC), which is considered the options industry clearinghouse, helps to facilitate the exchange of options contracts. It guarantees a fair process of option assignments, ensuring that the obligations in the contract are fulfilled.

When an investor chooses to exercise a contract, the OCC randomly assigns the obligation to someone who sold the option being exercised. For example, if 100 people sold XYZ calls with a strike of $40, and one of those options gets exercised, the OCC will randomly assign that obligation to one of the 100 sellers.

In general, assignments are uncommon. About 7% of options get exercised, with the remaining 93% expiring. Assignment also tends to grow more common as the expiration date nears.

If you are assigned the obligation to fulfill an options contract you sold, it means you have to accept the related loss and fulfill the contract. Usually, your broker will handle the transaction on your behalf automatically.

If you’re an individual investor, you only have to worry about assignment if you’re involved in selling options. Even then, assignments aren't incredibly common. Less than 7% of options get assigned and they tend to get assigned as the option’s expiration date gets closer.

Having an option assigned does mean that you are forced to lock in a loss on an option, which can hurt. However, if you’re truly worried about assignment, you can plan to close your position at some point before the expiration date or use options strategies that don’t involve selling options that could get exercised.

The Options Industry Council. " Options Assignment FAQ: How Can I Tell When I Will Be Assigned? " Accessed Oct. 18, 2021.

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News & Insights


How Option Assignment Works: Understanding Options Assignment

May 26, 2023 — 08:00 am EDT

Written by [email protected] for Schaeffer  ->

Options assignment is a process in options trading that involves fulfilling the obligations of an options contract. 

It occurs when the buyer of an options contract exercises their right to buy or sell the underlying asset. The seller (writer) of the options contract must deliver or receive the underlying asset at the agreed-upon price (strike price).

What is Options Assignment?

Options assignment can happen when the owner of an option exercises their right to buy or sell shares of stock or when options expire in the money (ITM). This process can be complex and involves various factors such as the type of option, expiration date, and market conditions.

There are two main styles of options contracts: American-style and European-style. American-style options allow the buyer of a contract to exercise at any time during the life of the contract. In contrast, European-style options can only be exercised on the expiration date.

Traders selling American-style options are at risk of assignment anytime on or before the expiration date. While they can technically be assigned anytime, the option must be ITM for the owner of the contract to benefit from exercising their right. 

On the other hand, many options traders prefer to sell European-style options as it is impossible to be assigned before the expiration date, giving them more flexibility to hold their contract without worrying about being assigned early. 

Who is at Risk of Assignment in Options Trading?

Traders with short options positions are at risk of assignment because they have sold the option and are obligated to deliver or receive the underlying asset. If the owner of the options contract decides to exercise their rights, the seller of the options contract must fulfill their obligations.

Traders with long options positions are not at risk of assignment as they are in control of exercising their options. A long option holder has the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell the underlying asset at the strike price. If the long option holder decides not to exercise their options, they can let the options contract expire worthless.

What is the Risk of Assignment?

The risks associated with options assignment are primarily centered around the obligations of the seller of the options contract. If the holder of the options contract decides to exercise their right to buy or sell the underlying asset, the seller must fulfill their obligations.

For example, if a trader sold a put option with a $100 strike price, and the stock dropped to $90, they would still have to buy the stock at $100 per share. When an option is ITM, it generally indicates that the seller of the option is in an unfavorable spot.

Of course, if you sold a $100 strike put option when the stock was trading at $120, and now it is trading at $90, the seller is likely regretting their original trade. However, it is impossible always to time the market perfectly, and assignment risk is the risk option sellers must assume. 

Traders must be aware of market conditions that could increase the risk of assignment, such as large price movements in the underlying asset. Option selling strategies benefit from a stable market environment, so you must ensure the stock you are trading will remain stable until the expiration date. Events that may cause significant market volatility, such as earnings, are crucial to be aware of when selling options. 

How to Avoid Option Assignment

While it may not be possible to avoid options assignment completely, there are several strategies that options traders can use to reduce the likelihood of being assigned.

One strategy is to manage short options positions by closing the position if your strike gets tested. For example, if you sold a $100 strike put when a stock is trading at $120 per share, you can avoid assignment by closing the position before the stock drops under your strike price of $100. 

Another strategy is to roll over your option, which means you close it out and simultaneously sell a new contract with a different strike price and/or date. Traders can roll their contracts to the same strike price at a further date or even roll it down or up to ensure their contract stays out of the money (OTM). 

These strategies may not always be effective in avoiding assignment. Traders should always be prepared to fulfill their obligations if they are assigned and have a plan to manage their positions accordingly. If a stock moves hard overnight, there is no guarantee you will successfully avoid assignment. 

Do You Keep the Premium if You Get Assigned?

Yes, if you get assigned on a short options position, you still keep the premium you received initially. However, it is important to note that if you are assigned, you will also be obligated to fulfill the contract terms by buying or selling the underlying asset at the strike price. This means you may incur additional costs associated with fulfilling your obligation, such as purchasing the underlying asset at an unfavorable price.

What Happens When Your Covered Call Gets Assigned?

If a covered call gets assigned, the seller of the call option must sell the underlying stock at the strike price to the buyer of the call option. The seller will still be able to keep the premium received from the sale of the call option.

For example, if you own a stock at $100 per share and sell a $130 strike call option, you will be forced to sell if the stock is above $130 on the expiration date. Additionally, you can be assigned before the expiration date if the stock is trading above your strike price. 

While the covered call seller will still generate a profit from this trade, the downside is you are likely missing out on more upside potential had you not sold the covered call. The seller of the covered call doesn’t have to do anything, as the broker will take care of the assignment for you. 

Are Options Automatically Assigned?

If you are an option seller, your option will either be exercised by the buyer or automatically assigned if it is ITM on the expiration date. 

If you are an option buyer, your option will not be automatically assigned before expiration. However, most brokers will automatically assign ITM options on the expiration date. 

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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Options Assignment: Navigating the Rights and Obligations

hkex option assignment

By Tyler Corvin

hkex option assignment

Ever been blindsided by an unexpected traffic ticket in the mail? 

You knew driving came with its set of potential consequences, yet you took to the road regardless. Suddenly, you’re left with a tangible obligation to pay. This unforeseen shift, where what was once a mere possibility becomes an immediate reality, captures the spirit of options assignment within the vast realm of options trading.

Diving into the details, option assignment serves as the bridge between the abstract realm of rights and the concrete world of duties in this field. It’s that unassuming piece in the machinery that can, without warning, change the entire game – often carrying notable financial repercussions. In a domain where every move has implications, truly grasping option assignment is foundational, ensuring not just survival but genuine success.

Join us in this comprehensive exploration of option assignment, arming traders of all experience levels with the knowledge to sail these intricate seas with assuredness and accuracy.

What you’ll learn

What is Options Assignment?

How options assignment works, identifying option assignment , examples of option assignment, managing and mitigating assignment risks, what option assignment means for individual traders.

  • Conclusion 

Dive into the realm of options trading and you’ll find a tapestry of processes and potential. “Options assignment” is one pivotal cog in this intricate machine. To a newcomer, this term might seem a tad daunting. But a step-by-step walk-through can demystify its core.

In its simplest form, options assignment means carrying out the rights specified in an option contract. Holding an option allows a trader the choice to buy or sell a particular asset, but there’s no compulsion. The moment they opt to use this right, that’s when options assignment kicks in.

Think of it this way: You’ve got a ticket (option) to a show (buy or sell an asset). You decide if and when to attend. When you make the move, that transition is the options assignment.

There are two main types of option assignments:

  • Call Option Assignment : Triggered when a call option holder exercises their right. The seller of the option then steps into the spotlight, bound to sell the asset at the agreed-upon price.
  • Put Option Assignment : Conversely, if a put option holder steps forward, the seller of the put takes the stage. Their role? To buy the asset at the specified rate.

To truly grasp options assignment, one must understand the dance between rights and obligations in options trading.

When a trader buys an option, they’re essentially reserving a right, a possible move. On the other hand, selling an option translates to accepting a duty if the option’s holder chooses to play their card.

Rights with Call Options: Buying a call option grants you a special privilege. You can procure the underlying asset at a set price before the option expires. If you choose to exercise this right, the one who sold you the call gets assigned. Their task? Handing over the asset at that set price.

Obligations with Put Options: Securing a put option empowers you to sell the underlying at a pre-decided rate. Should you exercise this, the put’s seller steps up, committed to buying the asset at the given rate.

Several factors steer the course of options assignment, including intrinsic value, looming expiration dates, and current market vibes. To stay ahead of these influences, many traders utilize option trade alerts for timely insights. And remember, while many options might find buyers, not all see execution. Hence, not every seller will get assigned. For traders, understanding this rhythm is vital, shaping many strategies in options trading. 

In the multifaceted world of options trading, discerning option assignment straddles the line between art and science. While no technique guarantees surefire results, several pointers and signals can wave a flag, hinting at an impending assignment.

In-the-Money Options : A robust sign of a looming assignment is the option’s stance relative to its strike price. “In-the-money” refers to an option’s moneyness , and plays a pivotal role in the behavior of option holders. Deeply in-the-money (ITM) options amplify the odds of assignment. An ITM call option, where the market price of the asset towers above the strike price, encourages the holder to exercise and swiftly offload the asset on the market. Conversely, an ITM put option, where the market price trails significantly behind the strike price, incentivizes the holder to scoop up the asset in the market and then exercise the option to vend it at the loftier strike price.

Expiration’s Shadow: The ticking clock of an expiring option raises the assignment stakes, especially if it remains ITM. Many traders make their move just before the eleventh hour to capitalize on their gains.

Dividend Dates in Focus: Call options inching toward expiry ahead of a dividend date, especially if they’re ITM, stand at an elevated assignment crosshair. Option aficionados might play their call options to pocket the dividend, which they’d bag if they possess the core shares.

Extrinsic Value’s Decline : A diminishing time or extrinsic value of an option elevates its exercise odds. When intrinsic value dominates an option’s worth, a holder might be inclined to cash in on this value.

Volume & Open Interest Dynamics : A sudden surge in trading or a dip in open interest can be telltale signs. Understanding volume’s role is crucial as such fluctuations might hint at traders either hopping in or out, suggesting possible exercises and assignments. 

Navigating the Post-Assignment Terrain

Grasping the ripple effects of option assignment is vital, highlighting the immediate responsibilities and potential paths for both the buyer and seller.

For the Option Seller:

  • Call Option Assignment : For a trader who’s sold a call option, assignment means they’re on the hook to hand over the underlying shares at the strike price. If they’re short on shares, a market purchase is in order—potentially at a loss if market prices overshoot the strike.
  • Put Option Assignment: Assignment on a peddled put option necessitates the trader to buy the shares at the strike price . If this price overshadows the market rate, losses loom.

For the Option Buyer:

  • Call Option Play : Exercising a call lets the buyer snap up shares at the strike price. They can either nestle with them or trade them off.
  • Put Option Play: Exercising a put gives the buyer the reins to sell their shares at the strike price. This play often pays off when the market rate is dwarfed by the strike, ensuring a tidy profit on the dispensed shares.

Post-assignment, all involved must be on their toes, knowing what triggers margin calls , especially if caught off-guard by the assignment. Tax implications may also hover, influenced by the trade’s nature and the tenure of the position.

Being savvy about these subtleties and gearing up for possible turns of events can drastically refine one’s journey through the options trading maze. 

Call Option Assignment Scenario

Imagine an investor purchases an Nvidia ( NVDA ) call option at a strike price of $435, hoping that the price of the stock will ascend after finding out that they may be forced to move out of some countries . The option is set to expire in a month. Soon after, not only did NVDA rebound from the news, but they reported very strong quarterly earnings, propelling the stock to $455.

Spotting the favorable trend, the investor opts to wield their right to purchase the stock at the agreed strike price of $435, despite its $455 market value. This initiates the option assignment.

The other investor, having sold the option, must now part with their NVDA shares at $435 apiece. If they’re short on stocks, they’d have to fetch them at the going rate of $455 and let them go at a deficit. The first investor, however, stands at a crossroads: retain the shares in hopes of further gains or swiftly trade them at $455, reaping a neat sum. 

Put Option Assignment Scenario

Let’s visualize an investor who speculates a dip in the share price of V.F. Corporation ( VFC ) after seeing news about an activist investor causing shares to jump almost 14% in a day . To hedge their bets, they secures a put option from another investor at a strike price of $18.50, set to lapse in a month.

Fast forward a week, let’s say VFC divulges lackluster quarterly figures, causing the stock to dive to $10. The first investor, seizing the moment, employs their put option, electing to sell their shares at the $18.50 strike price.

When the assignment bell tolls, the other investor finds himself bound to buy the shares from the first investor at the agreed $18.50, a rate that overshadows the current $10 market value. The first investor thus sidesteps the market slump, securing a favorable sale. The other investor, however, absorbs a loss, acquiring stocks at a premium to their market worth.

The realm of options trading is akin to navigating a dynamic river, demanding a sharp comprehension of the risks that lie beneath its surface. A predominant risk that traders often encounter is assignment risk. When one assumes the role of an option seller, they inherit the duty to honor the contract if the buyer opts to exercise. Grasping the gravity of this can make the difference, underscoring the necessity of adept risk management.

A savvy approach to temper assignment risk is by keeping a vigilant eye on the extrinsic value of options. Generally, options rich in extrinsic value tend to resist early assignment. This resistance emerges as the extrinsic value dwindles when the option dives deeper in-the-money, thereby tempting the holder to exercise.

Furthermore, economic currents, ranging from niche corporate updates to sweeping market tides, can be triggers for option assignments. Staying attuned to these economic ripples equips traders with the vision needed to either tweak or maintain their positions. For example, traders may opt to sidestep selling options that are deeply in-the-money, given their higher susceptibility to assignments due to their shrinking extrinsic value.

Incorporating spread tactics, like vertical spreads  or iron condors, furnishes an added shield. These strategies can dampen the risk of assignment since one part of the spread frequently balances the risk of its counterpart. Should the specter of a short option assignment hover, traders might contemplate ‘rolling out’ their stance. This move entails repurchasing the short option and subsequently selling another, possibly at a varied strike rate or a more distant expiry.

Yet, despite these protective layers, it remains pivotal for traders to brace for possible assignments. Maintaining ample liquidity, be it in capital or necessary shares, can avert unfavorable scenarios like hasty liquidations or stiff margin charges. Engaging regularly with brokers can also shed light, occasionally offering a heads-up on looming assignments.

In conclusion, the bedrock of risk management in options trading is rooted in perpetual learning. As traders hone their craft, their adeptness at forecasting and navigating assignment risks sharpens.

In the intricate world of options trading, option assignments aren’t just nuanced details; they’re pivotal moments with deep-seated implications for individual traders and the health of their portfolios. Beyond the immediate financial aftermath, assignments can reshape trading plans, risk dynamics, and the overarching path of an investor’s journey.

At its core, option assignments can transform a trader’s asset landscape. Consider a trader who’s short on a call option. If they’re assigned, they might be compelled to supply the underlying stock. This can result in a rapid stock outflow from their portfolio or, if they don’t possess the stock, birth a short stock stance. On the flip side, a trader short on a put option who faces assignment may find themselves buying the stock at the strike price, thereby dipping into their cash reserves.

These immediate shifts can generate broader portfolio ripples. An unexpected gain or shedding of stocks can jostle a trader’s asset distribution, veering it off their envisioned path. If, for instance, a trader had charted a particular stock-to-cash distribution or a meticulous diversification blueprint, an option assignment might throw a spanner in the works.

Additionally, assignments can serve as a real-world litmus test for a trader’s risk-handling prowess . A surprise assignment might spark margin calls for those not sufficiently fortified with capital. It stands as a poignant nudge about the essence of ensuring liquidity and safeguarding against the unpredictable whims of the market.

Strategically speaking, recurrent assignments might signal it’s time for traders to recalibrate. Are the options they’re offloading too submerged in-the-money? Have they factored in pivotal market shifts that might heighten early exercise odds? Such reflective moments can pave the way for refining and elevating trading methods. 

In the multifaceted world of options trading, option assignment stands out as both a potential boon and a challenge. Far from being a simple checkbox in the process, its ramifications can mold the contours of a trader’s portfolio and steer long-term tactics. The importance of comprehending and adeptly managing option assignment resonates, whether you’re dipping your toes into options for the first time or weaving through intricate trades with seasoned expertise. 

Furthermore, mastering options trading is about integrating its myriad concepts into a cohesive playbook. Whether it’s differentiating trading strategies like the iron condor from the iron butterfly strategy or delving deep into the nuances of option assignments, each component enriches the narrative of a trader’s odyssey. As markets shift and new hurdles arise, a solid grasp of foundational principles remains an invaluable asset. In this perpetual dance of learning and evolution, may your trading maneuvers always be well-informed, proactive, and adept. 

Understanding Options Assignment: FAQs

What factors influence the likelihood of an option being assigned.

Several factors come into play, including the option’s intrinsic value , the time remaining until expiration, and upcoming dividend announcements. Options that are deep in the money or nearing their expiration date are more likely to be assigned.

Are Some Option Styles More Prone to Assignment than Others?

Absolutely. When considering different option styles , it’s essential to note that American-style options can be exercised at any point before their expiration, which means they face a higher risk of early assignment. In contrast, European-style options can only be exercised at expiration.

How Do Current Market Trends Impact Assignment Risk?

Factors like market volatility, notable price shifts, and external economic happenings can amplify the chances of an option being assigned. For example, an option might be assigned before a company’s ex-dividend date if the expected dividend outweighs the weakening of theta decay .

Can Traders Reverse or Counter the Effects of an Option Assignment?

Once an option has been assigned, it’s set in stone. However, traders can maneuver within the market to balance out the implications of the assignment, such as procuring or selling the underlying asset.

Are There Any Fees Tied to Option Assignments?

Indeed, brokers usually impose a fee for both assignments and exercises. The specific fee can differ depending on the broker, making it essential for traders to understand their brokerage’s charging scheme.

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