What are Derivatives: Meaning and Their Types

What is a Derivative? 

A Derivative is a financial contract that situates its value on another asset. It is an underlying asset that focuses on the exchange of two or more parties. It can either just be one asset or a group of them. The exchange is what sets the derivative between these different assets in order to facilitate trade. This underlying asset is used as a security or index to ensure that the contract can be agreed upon. 

Why are Derivatives Used?

Derivatives are used to speculate and hedge investments. Simply put, these derivatives are used to manage financial risks, which is also called hedging. These risks also have to be taken to ensure that there are equal returns. Even if the returns are not as high as the underlying assets, they should at least be equal to the amount of these underlying assets.  This is why derivatives are known as secondary securities. Their value stems from the security of the primary assets. Since they are linked to the asset, they are called underlying. They do not imply the actual ownership of the assets and are just taken as a security. The most common underlying assets can include bonds, stocks, currencies, commodities and a few other forms. However, these are the most common forms in which these assets are set aside as security for the parties. Therefore, derivatives can move risk from the risk-opposed to the risk-seekers. However, when you are to receive returns, they would be all the higher.   

What are the Different Types of Derivatives?

Derivatives can be traded privately as over-the-counter (OTC) and as an exchange as well. A derivative is a security with an attached price that stems from the underlying assets it is representing in the market. Traders are the target audience to make effective use of these assets in the right direction. The derivative product can be divided into two kinds of classes:
  • Lock: This class of derivative products includes swaps, futures and forwards. It is this aspect that binds the different parties to the agreed- upon terms as clearly mentioned in the financial contract that is now being called a derivative. 
  • Options: The ownership of derivatives does not imply the actual ownership of the asset themselves. These are usually given as stock options to the respective parties. These derivatives can also be given out as forward contracts, warrants, forward contracts, options and swaps are the usual ways through which these options are given out to the parties mentioned in the contract.  
There are a lot more types of derivatives that are commonly in use in the stock market like:
  • Futures and Forwards: 

There are certain financial contracts that allow the contracts’ buyer to purchase an asset at a pre- determined price that will be applied in the future. Forwards and futures are essentially synonyms that are used across industries for the sake of convenience.  However, forwards are the more preferred choice in most situations because it gives the buyer of the contract the freedom to customize the underlying commodity and its quantity as well, after it has been agreed upon by the selling party as well. Futures, on the other hand, are standardized contracts as we know them. They are used as the standards that they have been set in. 
  • Swaps: 

These are derivatives that are created as contracts that facilitate the exchange of cash flows between the agreed upon parties. The purpose of this contract involves the exchange of a fixed cash flow for a floating cash flow. The most common kinds of swaps are interest rate swaps, commodity swaps and currency swaps. 

What are the Advantages of Derivatives?

Derivatives are a great way of steering clear of any financial risks when you are trying to create a safer path for your organization to proceed forward them. There are many other features that are responsible for the safety and benefits of derivatives. Here is a list of advantages of derivatives: 
  • Hedging: 

The term “hedging” means getting rid of an excess that is not required and can be potentially harmful. The same idea is also applied to financial assets as well. Derivatives allow organizations and traders to cut down on potential risks when they are investing or drawing up certain contracts to safeguard the interests of the organization. In derivatives, their value is linked to the underlying value of the assets.  The contracts are primarily created to hedge risks. For example, an investor may purchase or draw up a derivative contract whose profits move in the opposite direction than anticipated. This may allow the profits of this derivative to offset losses in the underlying asset itself. 
  • Underlying asset price determination: 

The whole basis of any derivative stems from the value of the underlying asset. This is why derivatives are also frequently used to determine the price of the asset itself. These act as the security that you may need to place for exchange contracts. For example, the spot prices of the futures can serve as an approximation of a commodity price. 
  • Market efficiency: 

Derivatives are so popular and commonly used because they are believed to increase the efficiency of the market. After you have drawn up derivative contracts, you can replicate the payoff of the assets. To avoid arbitrage opportunities, the price of the underlying asset and its derivative to be in equilibrium with one another. 
  • Access to unavailable markets: 

Derivatives safeguard the interests of the organization because they are mutually agreed upon contract that would get your organization to get access to markets that may not be available otherwise.


Derivatives are a simple way for an organization to safeguard its interests and also improve its profits. It is not necessarily a risk all the time but it is definitely a risk that you would be taking. However, this is true for most financial decisions to take on the stock market. It is possible for most people to improve their profits by taking stake in their potential derivatives. This is what makes derivatives popular as it allows your organization to achieve financial goals.  The variety of these derivatives is what allows you to hedge financial risks. You will have to take on these contracts with active participation to ensure that you are safeguarding your financial goals and interests.      So, if you are keen to enter the world of Trading then you should miss the opportunity. Visit Samco Securities and open the Demat account for free.      

Download App to know your Andekha Sach

Get the link to download the app.

Google Play Store App Store
Samco Fast Trading App

Leave A Comment?