DERIVATIVES FINANCE: Meaning, Examples, Types, List & Guide

Image credit: Admiral Market

When questioned about trading, most people will have some knowledge of bonds, equities, and funds to share with you. On the other hand, the idea of derivatives finance is perhaps less well-known to the general population. In this guide to complex finance derivatives, we will discuss the examples, types, and list of derivatives. So, keep reading!

What Is Derivatives Finance?

The term “finance derivatives” refers to any commercial product or contract whose value “derives” from another asset. “Underlying asset” refers to the underlying asset’s worth. In this context, “underlying asset” might refer to anything from equities and currency to commodities and interest rates. It may even be a combination of these things.

Investors first thought of derivatives as a tool to mitigate the risks associated with fluctuations in exchange rates. Nevertheless, their utility has expanded over the years to assist investors not only in mitigating a wider variety of risks but also in gaining access to a wider range of market possibilities. The use of derivatives attracts many sorts of investors as it allows them to track the price movements of various financial assets in their portfolios. They do this even though they are not physically owning those assets.

What Are Derivatives in Simple Words?

A derivative is a bilateral agreement whose value or price is derived from some underlying asset. Market participants widely use futures, options, forwards, and swaps as derivatives. A financial instrument whose value or price is based on another financial instrument.

Types of Derivatives Finance

The types of derivatives finance includes the following:

#1. Options

This is one of the types of derivatives finance that give the right to buy or sell securities at a strike price before a certain date. Call options allow the buyer to make a purchase, while put options allow the seller to make a profit.

In addition, for the purchase of an option agreement, an option buyer must pay an option seller (also referred to as an option writer) a premium. The strike price, the time until expiration, and the cyclical nature of the underlying asset all affect the premium for an option.

#2. Forwards

This is also one of the types of derivatives finance that utilizes a forward contract as another type of contract. The sellers sell these contracts off-exchange and specify a future sale price and date, rather than selling them through a central marketplace. Options are riskier than futures because of the higher chance of loss if one side defaults.

#3. Futures

In a futures contract, one party agrees to buy from the other party, and vice versa, a specified quantity of security at a specified price (typically the present value of the security) on a specified date in the future. The present price of an item can be “locked in” for another time by purchasing a futures contract.

Furthermore, a futures contract is an agreement to buy X barrels of crude oil at the current price in six months’ time. The investor buying such a contract is betting that oil prices will climb over that time period. Thus, you just have to sell contract or wait for expiration to get assets at lower price.

#4. CFDs

Contracts for difference (CFDs) let people bet on the prices of stocks, currencies, metrics, and goods, among other things, all over the world. Trading contracts for difference entails effectively acquiring a contract rather than the actual asset in question itself. That means you won’t be buying the asset itself but rather gambling on its future price. You can speculate on both rising and declining markets with CFDs. Compared to, say, buying equities, this is a significant advantage of trading CFDs.

#5. Swaps

Swaps are also one of the types of derivatives in finance in which one debt or asset is exchanged for another that is similar. The goal is to reduce the danger for everyone involved. In addition, most swaps have to do with interest rates or currency trading. A dealer may swap a loan with a floating interest rate for one with a fixed one.

Complex Derivatives Finance

As company capitalization tables become more complex, one needs to examine complex derivatives finance in more detail. Setting up the right techniques and valuation frameworks from the get-go allows issuers and shareholders to receive reliable reports.

Valuing complicated derivative instruments (options, warrants, and process elements with a range of attributes) has moved from the academic realm into regular corporate practice because of the requirement to do so for tax, accounting for financial assets, reporting valuations, or management objectives. 

  • There is a need for more complicated valuation models due to the following three reasons:
  • The absence of information regarding the possible volatility of corporations.
  • The inherent risks of leverage and default 
  • The presence of a large number of equities held by a single company

What are Exchange-Traded Derivatives?

The most common kinds of exchange-traded derivatives (ETDs) are options and futures contracts that trade on a public exchange and have a standard contract type. The exchange specifies the underlying instruments, expiration date, settlement mechanism, and lot size that produce derivatives through the contracts.

As a result, the availability of market-based price information for exchange-traded derivatives increases both transparency and liquidity. On the other hand, participants trade over-the-counter derivatives individually and design them to match their interests, making them less transparent and considerably more difficult to unwind.

Furthermore, members of the exchange are the only ones who may make trades on the exchange, and membership is by invitation only. Hence, to safeguard the fairness of the market and the interests of all participants in it, the exchange and its members may impose certain limitations on their business.

How Can I Invest in Derivatives Finance?

Those just starting in the investment world should avoid derivatives altogether. So, before venturing into riskier assets like derivatives, make sure you have the fundamentals of personal finance under control, such as an emergency fund and retirement savings. Even so, you probably shouldn’t invest a sizable chunk of your savings in derivatives.

However, you can easily buy fund-based derivative products with a regular investment account if you want to get your feet wet in the derivatives market. Also, to profit from a falling market or index, you may invest in an inverse fund, which utilizes derivatives to improve returns, or in a geared mutual fund or exchange-traded fund (ETF), which can employ options or futures trading to increase returns.

These types of fund-based derivative solutions can mitigate some of the risks associated with derivatives, such as the risk of the counterparty. On the other hand, they magnify losses and don’t support long-term, buy-and-hold ownership. Options and futures trading may be available to individual investors who seek greater direct exposure to derivatives. However, not all brokerages support this, so you’ll want to double-check that whichever platform you settle on can handle trading in derivatives.

What Are Some Examples of Derivatives Finance?

Futures contracts, option contracts, and credit default swaps are a few examples of common derivatives. In addition to these, there are a great number of derivative contracts that are specifically designed to fulfill the requirements of a wide variety of counterparties. Due to the fact that many derivatives are exchanged over-the-counter (OTC), they can in reality be customized in an endless number of ways.

What Are the Main Benefits and Risks of Derivatives Finance?

Using derivatives in finance can be a very practical approach to accomplishing one’s monetary objectives. For instance, a company can protect itself from the risk of being subject to commodities by buying or selling energy products like petroleum futures. There are many different ways to do this. Buying currency forward contracts is another method that a corporation can use to protect itself from the risk of currency fluctuations. The use of derivatives can also assist investors in leveraging their positions, such as when they buy stocks via stock options rather than directly purchasing shares. The main problems with derivatives are counterparty risk, the risks that come with using leverage, and the fact that the complex webs of derivative contracts can sometimes cause problems that affect the whole economy.

Is a Stock a Derivative?

Derivatives are typically regarded as one of the most complex forms of financial investing. Bonds, shares, commodities, currencies, interest rates, and indices of the market are the most typical underlying financial assets for derivatives. Other common underlying assets include market indexes.

What Is the Purpose of Derivatives in Finance?

Derivatives are typically regarded as one of the most complex forms of financial investing. Bonds, shares, commodities, currencies, interest rates, and indices of the market are the most typical underlying financial assets for derivatives. Other common underlying assets include market indexes.

How Do You Explain Derivatives to Dummies?

Any financial instrument is said to be a derivative if it obtains or derives its value from another liquidity, which is referred to as an “underlier.” This underlier is typically composed of shares, bonds, goods, or foreign currency. When trading in these products, the buyer or seller of a derivative does not need to be the owner of the security that underlies it.

What Is the Difference Between a Stock and a Derivative?

You will have ownership of the underlying asset if you trade stocks effectively. Trading stocks and shares can be done on a long- or short-term basis, depending on the trader’s preferences. Deliberating on the value of a commodity at a future point in time, in addition to being able to buy or sell at a price that has been predetermined, are both necessary components of the derivatives trading process.

What Is the Risk of Derivatives?

Collateral risk, also known as counterparty credit risk, is the risk that one of the parties engaged in a derivatives business, such as the buyer, seller, or dealer, will not fulfill their obligations under the terms of the contract. This danger is significantly increased in over-the-counter markets, often known as OTC markets, because these markets are significantly less regulated than traditional commercial exchanges.

Are ETFs a Derivative?

ETFs, on the whole, are not considered to be investments based on derivatives. However, there are a few notable outliers, such as inverse exchange-traded funds and special leverage exchange-traded funds.

What Is the Main Benefit of Derivatives?

Participants in the market can allot risk, manage that risk, or exchange it using derivatives rather than exchanging the underlying asset in the cash market. Users can establish exposures that are not available in cash markets, and derivatives offer greater functionality and liquidity benefits than cash markets do. This is another advantage that derivatives have over cash markets.


  1. Financial Instruments: Definition, Types and Examples
  2. FINANCIAL MARKET: All you should know with Practical examples (+ free pdfs)
  4. STRUCTURED PRODUCTS: Definition, Types, Examples, and Risks
  5. Stock Futures Investing: Everything You Should Know
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like