What is a Derivative? 

What is a Derivative? 

The name Derivative refers to a kind of financial agreement whose monetary value depends on an underlying asset, group of assets, or benchmark. A derivative is ready between 2 or a lot of parties that may trade on an exchange or over-the-counter (OTC). These contracts will be familiar to trading any range of assets and carry their risks. Costs for derivatives derive from fluctuations within the underlying asset. These financial securities are usually used to access certain markets and should be listed to hedge against risk. 

Derivative Meaning

Derivative means a financial product like an option is equal to  the proper to buy or sell one thing within the future that features a worth supported by the price of another product, like shares or bonds

Understanding Derivatives

  •  A derivative could be an advanced type of financial security that's set between 2 or a lot of parties. Traders make use of derivatives to approach particular markets and trade different assets. The foremost common underlying assets for derivatives are stocks, bonds, commodities, currencies, interest rates, and market indexes. Contract values depend upon changes within the costs of the underlying quality.

  • Derivatives will be accustomed hedge a grip, speculating on the directional movement of an underlying asset, or offering leverage to holdings. These assets are typically traded on exchanges or over-the-counter (OTC) and are purchased through brokerages. The world's largest derivatives exchange is Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME).

  • OTC-traded derivatives often have a larger chance of counterparty risk, that is that the danger that one among the parties concerned within the transaction may default. Contracts trade on either side of two non-public parties and are not controlled. To hedge this risk, the investor may purchase a currency derivative to lock during a specific rate of exchange. Derivatives that would be used to hedge this type of risk embody currency futures and currency swaps. 

  • In India in the past 10 years, the turnover of equity derivatives increased by 4.2 times. It varies from  33crores to 1,41,267 crores i.e from 2011 to 2021 and also the turnover of the cash market surged by Rs 11 crores to 70 crores approximately ie 6.3 times.

Participants within the Derivatives Market

The participants within the derivatives market are broadly speaking categorized into the subsequent four groups:

1. Hedgers

Hedging is once an individual invests in money markets to cut back the danger of value volatility in exchange markets, i.e., eliminate the danger of future value movements. Derivatives square measure the foremost well-liked instruments within the sphere of hedging. It's as a result of derivatives square measure effective in countervailing risk with their underlying assets.
2. Speculators
Speculation is the most typical market activity that participants in the financial market participate in. it's a risky activity that investors have to interact in. It involves the acquisition of any financial instrument or an asset that a capitalist speculates to become considerably valuable in the future. Speculation is driven by the motive of probably earning profitable profits in the future.
3. Arbitrageurs
Arbitrage could be a quite common profit-making activity in money markets that comes into result by taking advantage of or cashing in on the worth volatility of the market. Arbitrageurs create to take advantage of the worth distinction arising in an investment of a financial instrument like bonds, stocks, derivatives, etc.
4. Margin traders
In the finance trade, the margin is the collateral deposited by trader finance in a financial instrument to the counterparty to hide the credit risk related to the investment.

Types of Derivatives 

Derivatives are currently supported by a good style of transactions and have more uses. There are even derivatives supported by weather reports, such as the amount of rain or the number of sunny days in a region. 


  • A derivative, like a futures contract, is an agreement between 2 parties for the purchase and delivery of an asset at an agreed-upon worth at a future date. It is a standardized contract that trades in an exchange. Traders use a type of derivative to hedge their risk or speculate on the value of an underlying asset. The parties concerned are obligated to meet a commitment to buy or sell the underlying asset. 
  • For example, each the futures purchaser and vendor hedge their risk. For Example, Company A required oil within the future and needed to offset the danger that the value might rise next April with an extended position in an oil derivative. The seller can be a company involved regarding falling oil costs and wished to eliminate that risk by selling or shorting a derivative that fixed the worth it'd get in next April.
  • It is additionally potential that one or each of the parties are speculators with the other opinion regarding the direction of April oil. In this case, one may like the contract, and one may not. If the value of oil rose from $72.22 to $100 per barrel, the monger with the long position the buyer the derivative would have profited $27,780 [($100 - $72.22) x 1,000 = $27,780]. The monger or trader with the short position of the seller in the contract would have a loss of $27,780. 

Cash Settlements of Futures 

  • All futures contracts are not settled at expiration by delivering the underlying asset. If each party during a derivative are speculating investors or traders, it's unlikely that either of them would need to form arrangements for the delivery of many barrels of crude. Speculators will finish their obligation to get or deliver the underlying artefact or currency by closing (unwinding) their contract before expiration with a compensatory contract. 
  • Many derivatives are indeed cash-settled, which suggests that the gain or loss within the trade is solely an accounting income to the trader's account. Future contracts that are cash-settled embody several rate futures, indicator futures, and weird instruments like volatility futures or weather futures. 


  • Forward contracts or forwards are almost like futures; however, they are not traded on the exchange. These contracts solely trade over-the-counter. Once a forward contract is formed, the buyer and seller might customize the terms, size, and settlement method. As an over-the-counter product, forward contracts carry a larger level of counterparty risk for each party. 
  • Counterparty risks are a kind of credit risk in which the parties might not be ready to live up to the obligations made public within the contract. If one party becomes insolvent, the opposite party might don't have any recourse and will lose the worth of its position. 
  • Once created, the parties in a very forward contract will balance their position with different counterparties, which might increase the potential for counterparty risks as a lot of traders get involved within the same contract. 


  • Swaps are another common kind of by-product, usually accustomed to the exchange of one quiet income with another. For instance, a trader may use a rate of interest swap to modify from a variable rate loan to a fixed rate of interest loan, or the other way around. 
  • Imagine that Company XYZ borrows $3,000,000 and pays a variable rate on the loan that's presently 6 May 2000. XYZ could also be involved regarding rising interest rates that may increase the prices of this loan or encounter an investor that's reluctant to increase a lot of credit whereas the corporate has this variable rate risk. 


  • An options contract is as same as a derivative instrument future in this it's an agreement between 2 parties to shop for or sell an asset at a planned future date for a selected worth. The key distinction between choices and futures is that with a choice or an option, the customer isn't obligated to exercise their agreement to buy or sell. It's a chance solely, not an obligation, as futures, and also options are also used to hedge or speculate on the value of the underlying asset. 

Advantages and drawbacks of Derivatives

As the on top of examples illustrate, the derivative is a great tool for businesses and investors alike. They supply some ways to try and do the following:

  • Lock-in costs
  • Hedge against unfavourable movements in rates
  • Mitigate risks
  • These pluses will typically come back for a restricted price.
  • Derivatives can even typically be purchased on margin, which implies traders use borrowed funds to get them. This makes them even more cost-effective.


  • Derivatives are troublesome to worth as a result they're supported by the worth of another plus. The risks for over-the-counter derivatives embrace counterparty risks that are troublesome to predict or worth. Most derivatives also are sensitive to the following:
  1. Changes within the quantity of your time to expiration
  2. The cost of holding the underlying plus
  3. Interest rates
  4. These variables create it troublesome to dead match the worth of a by-product with the underlying assets.