Options Blueprint Series: The Collar Strategy for Risk Reduction

CME_MINI:NQ1!   NASDAQ 100 E-mini Futures
Introduction to Nasdaq Futures

Nasdaq Index Futures offer traders exposure to the Nasdaq-100 index, a benchmark for U.S. technology stocks, without directly investing in the index's component stocks. Trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), Nasdaq Futures provide a critical tool for managing market exposure on the future of technology and biotech sectors.

Key Contract Specifications:

  • Point Value: Each point of the index equates to $20 per contract.
  • Margins: As determined by the CME, margins vary, reflecting the volatility and current market conditions. As of the time of this publication the CME website shows a maintenance margin of $17,700 per contract.
  • Trading Hours: Nearly 24-hour trading capability, aligning with global market hours to provide continuous access for traders.

It's important to note that similar strategies and benefits are available with Micro Nasdaq Futures, which are scaled down to a tenth of the standard Nasdaq Futures, making them accessible to a broader range of traders due to their lower margin requirements (Margin is 10 times less, point values are 10 times less, etc.)

Basics of the Collar Strategy

The Collar strategy is a risk management tool used by traders to protect against large losses in their investments while also capping potential gains. It is particularly useful in volatile markets or when significant price swings are expected but their direction is uncertain.

Components of the Collar Strategy:
  1. Own the Asset: Typically involves owning the underlying asset, but in the case of futures, it involves holding a long position in the Nasdaq Futures contract.
  2. Buy a Protective Put: This put option gives the right to sell your futures contract at a predetermined strike price, serving as insurance against a significant drop in the market.
  3. Sell a Covered Call: This call option grants someone else the right to buy your futures contract at a set strike price, generating income that can offset the cost of the put option, but it limits the profit potential if the market rises sharply.

This strategy forms a price collar around the current value of the futures contract, protecting against drastic movements in both directions. The use of this strategy in Nasdaq Futures trading can be especially effective given the index's exposure to high-growth, high-volatility sectors.

Application to Nasdaq Futures

Implementing the Collar strategy with Nasdaq Futures involves selecting the right put and call options to effectively hedge the position. Here's how you can set up this strategy:
  1. Choose the Underlying Contract: Decide whether to use standard E-mini Nasdaq-100 Futures or Micro mini Nasdaq-100 Futures based on your investment size and risk tolerance.
  2. Select the Put Option: Identify a put option with a strike price below the current market price of the Nasdaq Futures. This strike should represent the maximum loss you are willing to accept. The graphics of this article show UFO Support Price Levels below which accepting a larger loss could be seen as a form of hope. Using UFO Support Price Levels as a reference to select the Put strike could be an efficient manner to determine the desired risk.
  3. Choose the Call Option: Pick a call option with a strike price above the current market level, where you believe gains will be limited. The premium received from selling this call helps offset the cost of the put, reducing the overall expense of the setup. Selecting a call with its premium equal to the put price would allow for the Collar strategy to be cost-free (not risk-free).

Risk Profile Visualization: A graphical representation of the risk profile will show a flat line of loss limited to the downside by the put and capped gains on the upper side by the call. This visualization helps traders understand the potential financial outcomes and their likelihood.

Forward-Looking Trade Idea

Considering the recent market dynamics, Nasdaq Futures have been experiencing a range-bound pattern after reaching all-time highs. With current geopolitical tensions such as the recent conflict between Iran and Israel, there's a potential for sudden market movements.

Scenario Analysis:
  • Continuation of Uptrend: If the market breaks above the range, selling the covered call may yield limited gains but will provide premium income.
  • Significant Drop: If the market drops due to intensified conflicts, the protective put limits the potential loss, safeguarding the investment. That is knowing that if the market was to rebound after a significant drop, the strategy could end up as profitable as long such rebound would happen prior to the Options expiration date.

Trade Setup:
  • Entry Point: Current market price of Nasdaq Futures.
  • Put Option: Select a put option below the current market price. The chart example uses the UFO Support Level located around 18,000. Premium paid for the 18,000 Put is estimated to be 511.79 points * $20 ($10,235.8).
  • Call Option: Choose a call option above the current market price targeting the same level of premium as the premium paid for the put. The 18,300 Call is estimated to provide 522.65 points * $20 ($10,453).
  • Expiration: Options with a 1-3 month expiration to balance cost and protection level. This trade example uses June Expiration which is 67 days away from expiration.

As seen on the above screenshot, we are using the CME Options Calculator in order to generate fair value prices and Greeks for any options on futures contracts.

This setup aims to utilize the Collar strategy to navigate through uncertain times with controlled risk, taking into account both the potential for continuation of the uptrend and a protective mechanism against a sharp decline.

Risk Management Discussion

Effective risk management is crucial when trading futures and options. The Collar strategy inherently incorporates risk management by design, but understanding and applying additional risk control measures is essential for successful trading.

Key Risk Management Techniques:
  • Limited Risk: By default, the Collar strategy is a limited risk strategy where the risk is calculated by looking at the current Nasdaq Futures price compared to the Put strike price and adding or subtracting the Collar execution price for a debit or credit respectively.
  • Use of Stop-Loss Orders: Although the Collar strategy provides a natural hedge, setting stop-loss orders beyond the put option's strike can provide an extra safety net against gap risk and extraordinary market events.
  • Regular Review and Adjustment: As market conditions change, the relevance of the chosen strike prices may alter. Regularly reviewing and adjusting the positions to ensure they still reflect your risk appetite and market outlook is advised.
  • Diversification: While the Collar strategy protects an individual position, diversifying across different asset classes can further protect the portfolio from concentrated risks associated with any single market.


The Collar strategy offers Nasdaq Futures traders a structured way to manage risk while maintaining the potential for profit. By capping potential losses with a protective put and limiting gains with a covered call, traders can navigate uncertain markets with increased confidence. This strategy is particularly applicable in volatile markets or during periods of geopolitical tension, providing a buffer against significant fluctuations.

When charting futures, the data provided could be delayed. Traders working with the ticker symbols discussed in this idea may prefer to use CME Group real-time data plan on TradingView: This consideration is particularly important for shorter-term traders, whereas it may be less critical for those focused on longer-term trading strategies.

General Disclaimer:
The trade ideas presented herein are solely for illustrative purposes forming a part of a case study intended to demonstrate key principles in risk management within the context of the specific market scenarios discussed. These ideas are not to be interpreted as investment recommendations or financial advice. They do not endorse or promote any specific trading strategies, financial products, or services. The information provided is based on data believed to be reliable; however, its accuracy or completeness cannot be guaranteed. Trading in financial markets involves risks, including the potential loss of principal. Each individual should conduct their own research and consult with professional financial advisors before making any investment decisions. The author or publisher of this content bears no responsibility for any actions taken based on the information provided or for any resultant financial or other losses.

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