OAP 069: Is Your Options Strategy Scalable? 3 Tips for Growing A 6-Figure Trading Account

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Regardless of your current account size or trading experience level, you should be putting some serious thought into how you plan on scaling your options strategy over the next few years. Especially if you’re looking to generate a consistent monthly income from options trading, you probably realize that having $10,000 in your account won’t be enough to generate profits to replace your current job or salary - or if this was a shock to you, sorry for the reality check but it’s true. Still, you need to plan ahead for the changes that will accompany having more cash.

In today’s show I’ll walk through the 3 biggest tips I have for anyone who’s looking to grow their 6-figure account. As with any regular business, the products and strategy for trading are going to change and shift as you grow. The core principles remain the same (i.e. selling options, taking advantage of high volatility, etc.) but the way you could about capturing profits and utilizing capital will need to be tweaked so that you’re always trading options as efficiently as possible.

3 Tips for Growing and Scaling Your Options Strategy

1. Start transitioning to undefined risk strategies.

  • This is the easiest way to start allocating more capital and start generating more premium per trade.
  • Can use up more of your margin to get into a position, allowing more room to scale your account.
  • Allows you to sell less contracts, while at the same time receive more premium per contract.
  • If you are trading in a larger IRA or retirement account and you still need to scale out, within reason, go as far out as possible with really wide spreads. This helps create a synthetic version of an undefined risk strategy.

Example:

  • As you scale, if you are doing five credit spreads and taking in $100, now you could do three strangles and take in $300.

*Disclaimer: if you have an account balance of under $25,000, stick to the defined risk strategies.

2. Start transitioning to larger products.

  • Larger products include bigger index options or larger price products, the big priced securities.
  • This allows you to sell less options for a higher price, which means that you have the room to scale.
  • Use all of these in your toolbox as potential trading vehicles moving forward.
  • Higher priced index options: SPX, RUT, NDX. Ex: One SPX straddle in December is taking in $9,000 in premium and the margin is $4,200.
  • Higher priced securities: QQQ, IWM, GLD, Netflix, Facebook, TLT, IBM, Baidu, Goldman Sachs, DIA, Tesla, Spy, SPY, IBB, Chipotle, Amazon, Google, Priceline.

Example:

  • Google stock price is $7.83, so the December options for Google right now, the at the money straddle is trading for $4,000 — a lot of capital for the at the money straddle.
  • This creates a $4,000 trade with a $1,500 margin requirement for one contract, which allows you to scale easily.

3. Start gravitating over to futures options, if you still run out of room in your portfolio.

  • Futures options work similar to regular options, except for slight differences in pricing and they settle to actual futures contracts.
  • The E-mini futures contracts are extremely liquid, giving you yet another option.
  • There is a lot of activity in these, and they have a high value per contract so it is very easy to scale into these.

Example:

  • With E-mini futures contracts (-ES), instead of settling to the SPY or to cash like the SPX, it settles to the futures contract itself.
  • Again, this is not recommended unless you have a substantial portfolio because settling the future contract — if you are not there to handle them — could be really tough as far as handling the margin or the capital that is required to hold the position.
  • Selling one at the money E-mini futures contract for December expiration gives you a credit of $4,700 and a $3,200 buying power effect, depending on the margin account and portfolio account that you have.

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Free Options Trading Courses:

  • Options Basics [20 Videos]Whether you're a completely new trader or an experienced trader, you'll still need to master the basics. The goal of this section is to help lay the groundwork for your education with some simple, yet important lessons surrounding options.
  • Finding & Placing Trades [26 Videos]Successful options trading is 100% dependent on your ability to find and enter trades that give you an "edge" in the market. This module helps teach you how to scan properly for and select the best strategies to execute smarter option trades each day.
  • Pricing & Volatility [12 Videos]This module includes lessons on mastering implied volatility and premium pricing for specific strategies. We'll also look at IV relativeness and percentiles which help you determine the best strategy to use for each and every possible market setup.
  • Neutral Options Strategies [7 Videos]The beauty of options is that you can trade the market within a neutral range either up or down. You'll learn to love sideways and range bound markets because of the opportunity to build non-directional strategies that profit if the stock goes up, down or nowhere at all.
  • Bullish Options Strategies [12 Videos]Naturally everyone wants to make money when the market is heading higher. In this module, we'll show you how to create specific strategies that profit from up trending markets including low IV strategies like calendars, diagonals, covered calls and direction debit spreads.
  • Options Expiration & Assignment [11 Videos]Our goal is to make sure you understand the logistics of how each process works and the parties involved. If you don’t feel confident in the expiration processes or have questions that you just can't seem to get answered, then this section will help you.
  • Portfolio Management [16 Videos]When I say "portfolio management" some people automatically assume you need a Masters from MIT to understand the concept and strategies - that is NOT the case. And in this module, you'll see why managing your risk trading options is actually quite simple.
  • Trade Adjustments/Hedges [15 Videos]: In this popular module, we'll give you concrete examples of how you can hedge different options strategies to both reduce potential losses and give yourself an opportunity to profit if things turn around. Plus, we'll help you create an alert system to save time and make it more automatic.
  • Professional Trading [14 Videos]Honestly, this module isn't just for professional traders; it's for anyone who wants to have eventually options replace some (or all) of their monthly income. Because the reality is that mindset is everything if you truly want to earn a living trading options.

PDF Guides & Checklists:

  • The Ultimate Options Strategy Guide [90 Pages]: Our most popular PDF workbook with detailed options strategy pages categorized by market direction. Read the whole guide in less than 15 mins and have it forever to reference.
  • Earnings Trading Guide [33 Pages]: The ultimate guide to earnings trades including the top things to look for when playing these one-day volatility events, expected move calculations, best strategies to use, adjustments, etc.
  • Implied Volatility (IV) Percentile Rank [3 Pages]A cool, simple visual tool to help you understand how we should be trading based on the current IV rank of any particular stock and the best strategies for each blocked section of IV.
  • Guide to Trade Size & Allocation [8 Pages]Helping you figure out exactly how to calculate new position size as well as how much you should be allocating to your each position based on your overall portfolio balance.
  • When to Exit/Manage Trades [7 Pages]Broken down by option strategy we'll give you concrete guidelines on the best exit points and prices for each trade type to maximize your win rate and profits long-term.
  • 7-Step Trade Entry Checklist [10 Pages]Our top 7 things you should be double-checking before you enter your next trading. This quick checklist will help keep you out of harms way by making sure you make smarter entries.

Real-Money, LIVE Trading:

  • IWM Iron Butterfly (Closing Trade): Exiting this IWM iron butterfly options trade gave us a $1,100+ profit after pinning the stock price one day before expiration at the peak of our spread.
  • CMG Iron Condor (Opening Trade): I just recorded my live trading platform (and real money account) as I walked through the process of entering a new iron condor trade in CMG stock. Inside you'll see me analyze, price and fill the trade in real-time.
  • APC Strangle (Closing Trade): Took about $150 out of this small APC strangle trade even after the stock moved completely against our short call strikes this month. But as always, implied volatility always trumps direction and because IV went down, the value of this spread dropped more-so than the impact of the directional move higher.
  • IYR Call Credit Spread (Adjusting Trade): This adjustment is good for 2 reasons. First, it reduces the overall risk in the trade if IYR continues to move higher. Second, it still leaves room for the stock to fall back down into our new profit window.
  • XHB Straddle (Closing Trade): We were able to bank a $120 profit early in the March expiration cycle for our XHB straddle with the stock trading right in the middle of our expected range.
  • AAPL Call Calendar (Opening Trade): Look behind the scenes as I use our new watchlist software to filter quickly and find this AAPL call calendar spread trade during overall low implied volatility in the market.
  • COF Strangle (Adjusting Trade): Here I recorded my live trading screen (and real money account) showing you the entire thought process we used to make an adjustment to my current short strangle in COF to reduce risk.
  • GDX Strangle (Opening Trade): With gold's high IV we are getting into a new strangle with a 70% chance of success and a decent credit for selling option premium.
  • IBB Iron Condor (Closing Trade): Today we're exiting an iron condor we traded in IBB for a $142 profit. Inside you'll see me analyze the exit price and fill the trade in real-time.

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About The Author

Kirk Du Plessis

Kirk founded Option Alpha in early 2007 and currently serves as the Head Trader. In 2018, Option Alpha hit the Inc. 500 list at #215 as one of the fastest growing private companies in the US. Formerly an Investment Banker in the Mergers and Acquisitions Group for Deutsche Bank in New York and REIT Analyst for BB&T Capital Markets in Washington D.C., he's a Full-time Options Trader and Real Estate Investor. He's been interviewed on dozens of investing websites/podcasts and he's been seen in Barron’s Magazine, SmartMoney, and various other financial publications. Kirk currently lives in Pennsylvania (USA) with his beautiful wife and three children.