Why use portfolio or SPAN margin?
Most people think that portfolio margin (PM) or SPAN margin is just used by traders who want to get significant leverage, and therefore need to be comfortable taking larger risks.
There certainly is leverage with portfolio or SPAN margin, but what most people don’t realize is that, if used properly, you can use PM or SPAN margin in order to construct risk profiles which are much safer than what you could construct with RegT margin. There are even certain trade types which are completely not viable at all with RegT margin, and can only be done with PM or SPAN margin.
This course will teach you how PM and SPAN works, how to construct, and how to manage trades which are specific to PM and SPAN.
We primarily focus on creating trades which have much more safety than RegT trades, such that even in the event of a black swan your overall portfolio is protected.
Can you afford to lose your entire trading account?
Instructors who teach conventional trading strategies with RegT accounts will typically state that your trading account should consist of a maximum of 20% of your liquid net worth. This implies that if you want to have a trading account of $100K, then you’ll need a liquid net worth of $100K / 20% = $500K
On top of that, they will typically recommend that you keep 50% of your trading account in cash. So out of your $100K trading account, you can only trade $50K.
The reason for these two recommendations is because they don’t teach you how to protect your trading portfolio from black swan events.
The typical advice is that a black swan may come every 5 to 10 years or so, and when it comes you have to be willing to have your entire account get wiped out. Since you only had 20% of your liquid net worth invested in your account, and you were keeping 50% of that trading account in cash, then you should have sufficient extra funds in order to start over again.
We don’t find the above situation acceptable.
We teach you how to structure your trading account such that your overall portfolio can withstand a black swan event. This therefore allows you to actively trade a larger portion of your net worth, and tends to allow you to sleep much better at night.
How much can you expect to make?
Let’s just pick a generic number. If you can consistently make a 20% return on your entire account every year, then you would be performing at levels comparable to the best hedge funds in the world.
So let’s apply this yearly return to the criteria we had listed above. We had mentioned that most people will teach to only trade 20% of your liquid net worth, and then keep 50% of your trading account in cash.
If you had a liquid net worth of $500K, then you could have a trading account of $100K and you would actively be trading $50K of that account.
If you were to then make a 20% yearly return on your traded capital of $50K, that comes to $50K * 20% = $10K profit per year.
Even if you were to trade your entire $100K, and not implement the suggestion of keeping 50% in cash, then you would be making $20K per year, on the assumption that you had a total liquid net worth of $500K.
Do you want to trade for a living?
Let’s use the info from above, which is what is recommended by mentors teaching RegT style options strategies.
If you wanted to trade for a living, and your expectation was to be able to make $10K profit per month, that implies needing to make $120K profit per year. If that’s going to represent a 20% yearly return, that implies that you need a total trading account in the size of $120K / 20% = $600K. If you were to keep 50% in cash, that implies needing an account of $1.2 million, and if your account is 20% of your liquid net worth then you need to have a total liquid net worth of $1.2 M / 20% = $6 million.
So while the concept of only trading 20% of your liquid net worth and keeping 50% of that in cash sounds completely reasonable, you need to marry that with the reality listed above in terms of how much money you can expect to make overall. If you want to trade for a living and make $10K per month, then you’ll need to have a liquid net worth of $6 million…….if you trade using traditional methods.
If you don’t have a spare $6 million lying around, then you’ll need to learn how to be able to trade a much larger portion of your net worth, and also how to trade a much larger portion of your trading account, while doing so with as much safety as possible.
You can only do that if you have a portfolio of trades that can withstand black swan events, yet still provide you with a very good return.
That’s exactly what you’ll learn to do in this course.
Isn’t black swan protection expensive?
Think of black swan protection as insurance for your trading account.
Do you spend money on car, home, health or life insurance? Of course you do, and you likely couldn’t even imagine being without it.
So if insurance is so important, then why wouldn’t you insure your trading account, which may contain a large portion of your net worth?
Most traders would answer “because it’s too expensive and black swan events are very rare”.
How often do you plan on getting cancer? How often do you plan on kicking the bucket? Just because we only plan to die once isn’t a reason to not have life insurance. Just because we don’t plan on getting cancer every year is not a reason to not have health insurance. So just because an event is rare, this is no reason to not have insurance to cover that risk.
I’m willing to bet that you’ll see many more black swan events than the number of times you’ll get cancer or die.
Another very important point is that out-of-the-money structures are much easier to protect against black swans than at-the-money structures. In this case, “easier” implies much cheaper, and getting a good return on margin for out-of-the-money structures can only be done with portfolio or SPAN margin.
Black swan protection does cost money though, so in the course we tend to address this in three ways:
- We design income trades which are very resilient against a strong down move, yet can still produce a very attractive return on margin. Being able to leverage PM and SPAN margin is almost essential to doing this effectively.
- We have some strategies which are primarily focused around portfolio level protection, rather than income generation.
- We also have a number of creative financing strategies for the costs incurred for the black swan protection.
Learn to manage an entire portfolio rather than a single trade
Most traders are on a constant and never ending hunt for the holy grail. They want to find the perfect trade which can make a fantastic return in every market condition as well as withstand a black swan event without taking a loss.
Allow me to save you time and money, and tell you that there’s a reason it’s called the “holy grail”, and that reason is that it doesn’t exist.
You need to start by creating two broad categories of trades: income trades versus hedges. Hedges are there to protect your portfolio, and you should therefore not expect to make money from them most of the time. The ideal situation with a hedge is that you can get creative with finance strategies such that you can end up with “free hedges”, while not compromising the power of the hedge too much.
When it comes to incomes trades, you also need to realize that there are many different market conditions, which are hard to predict in advance. You have strong down, grind down, sideways, grind up and strong up markets…..not to mention that vertical skew and term structure can also potentially affect the performance of your income trades.
Rather than trying to find one trade which “does it all”, you’ll typically get a much smoother equity growth curve if you’re actively trading a few different trades at the same time. You may have one hedge which is great for protecting against black swan events, and another hedge which is great for a grind down market. You may have one income trade which is great for a grind up or bullish market, and then another income trade which is great for sideway choppy markets.
You also need to keep your entire portfolio risk under control by analyzing the 1st and 2nd order greeks of your entire portfolio, rather than having a myopic view of just a single trade.
Last but not least, you can use a profit hump from one trade as a hedge for another trade. For example, you may have one trade which has developed a beautiful profit hump which has built up just under the current market levels. Once you know that, then this allows you to potentially take more bullish directional risk with a new income trade, since you know that even if you are completely wrong, you have that nice profit hump waiting just below you from the other trade.
You therefore want to learn to manage an entire portfolio of trades rather than a single trade for the following reasons:
- have a blend of income trades as well as hedges to protect your portfolio
- have a smoother equity curve, by implementing a few different trade types for both hedges as well as income trades (where each trade type may be better suited for a different market condition)
- portfolio level risk control by analyzing the 1st and 2nd order greeks of your entire portfolio
- being able to leverage one trade against one another in order to reduce risk and increase profits
What does a standard trade look like?
The following risk graph is from one of our “mechanical combos”, which combines an income STT trade together with a financed downside hedge.
You can see that we have a super flat T+0 line from around -8% down through to as high as the market wants to go.
Also notice the nice theta distribution and spacing, as represented by the various T+X lines.
On top of that, backtesting has shown that this trade can withstand a black swan event such as the Aug 2015 crash.
Automated backtest of the mechancial combo #1
Although many of our members prefer to trade using their own discretion, we have also created some trades which can be traded mechanically.
Here are the results of our “mechanical combo #1”:
- Automated backtest of 1671 trades from 2014 to today
- New trade initiated every 15 mins
- Profit target: $600
- Max loss: -$1500
- Slap on/off trade; no adjustments
- Initial PM: $2100
- % winners: 89.47%
- % losers: 10.53%
- Avg DIT: 35.2
- Avg winner: $600
- Avg loser: -$1100
- Avg P&L: $420
Does it scale?
We have multiple people in our community who trade in large size.
There are various members in our community who run hedge funds; some with millions of dollars under management.
We also have many private individuals who simply trade their own money, but do so in large size. For example, one of our members tends to trade 600 tranches of our trades at a time.
You can therefore start with just a single tranche, which may have a portfolio margin as low as $5K and planned capital of $10K, but also have the confidence of knowing that as your account gets larger and larger, that you’ll still be able to do the same trades in much larger size.
Quick personal introduction (8:19) Course overview (20:05) University tour
- Analysis spreadsheets (16:44)
Trading for a living (17:10) Portfolio margin (28:12)
Quick visual intro to the first order greeks (9:31)
- Second order greeks (55:09)
- Reading the inflection points on an expiration line (5:57)
- Greeks of a put debit spread (9:02)
- Delta Power (6:31)
- Buying cheaper greeks (13:31)
- Comparing relative spread prices (8:10)
OTM options decay faster than ATM options (17:54) ATM structure pricing and IV (8:16) Relationship between volatility and time (8:08) How the T+0 is affected by a change in IV (4:12) Options in further out in time expirations are easier to manage (9:07)
Vertical Skew – part 1 (40:52)
- Vertical Skew – part 2 (50:51)
Trading further out in time (13:26)
- Measuring skew steepness (18:13)
Term Structure (96:33) Put / Call parity (24:01) IB TWS Tool for skew analysis (3:02) Backtesting (21:50) Market circuit breakers (13:12)
- Walking the option chain (15:52)
Foundations summary (4:25)
Space Trip Trade
Standard Space Trip Trade (15:18) Standard STT – sample setup (31:03) Standard STT – let’s do it live (22:00) Optimizing entry (25:06) Legging in (6:40) Middle STT (11:30)
Front STT – comparisons (15:25) Road Trip and Space Trip (3:43) Bearish STT (29:47) Bullish STT (15:34) Bullish STT – sample setup prior to the Brexit event (17:45) Trade management – intro and quick review (8:01) Downside management (10:30) Downside adjustments – rolling down (0:53)
- Downside adjustments – long put (2:32)
Downside adjustments – put debit spread (38:51) Downside adjustments – adding another STT (1:43) Downside adjustments – adding a bearish STT (0:35) Downside adjustments – 1 SD OTM balanced butterfly (3:33) Downside adjustments – hitting pause (28:33) Downside adjustments – hitting pause – comparing expirations (8:02) Downside adjustments – price reversion (10:32) Downside adjustments – hedging off bearish adjustments (10:03) Downside adjustments – using stocks or futures (7:58)
- Downside adjustments – TOS contingent orders (4:20)
Upside management (0:51) Harvesting (13:55) Upside adjustments (7:42) Price layering (17:35) Playing whack-a-mole (4:12) Taking profits (8:32) Quick Hit STT (15:32) (15:32) Opportunistic management (3:15) STTs on the call side (6:59) Using futures options with a RegT account (3:50) STT – summary (2:29)
Black Swan Hedge
- Black swan examples (20:41)
- BSH core concepts (33:21)
- BSH vs teenies (9:35)
First BSH configuration (64:11) Second BSH configuration (11:02) Third BSH configuration (7:20) Fourth BSH configuration (30:02) Optimizing the BSH (32:26)
Peel off existing upside call credit spreads (2:56) Put credit spreads (10:16) Call debit spreads (2:39) Bullish risk reversal (2:49)
Call back ratio (1:30) Upside calendar (4:07) Upside ratio calendar (2:21)
ThinkOrSwim (TOS) tips
- Managing your trades (17:54)
Price triggered contingent orders (7:22) Study triggered contingent orders (9:29) Importing a TOS grid Seasonality indicator Standard deviations indicator IV and HV indicator
- Volatility term structure indicator
Triple Keltner and ATR Trend indicator combo My main TOS grid Butterfly pricer indicator
Managing the entire portfolio
Entering during different IV levels (12:25)
Protected jeep (17:36) Portfolio sizing (52:54) Simple Trend Following System (STFS) (16:31) STTBWB and BSH during the Feb 2020 crash (53:26)
- Double wide STT and BSH (71:46)
STT-BWB (76:46) Dynamic sizing for the STTBWB and BSH (108:30) 2021-03-24 – Group coaching (188:16) That’s all folks (6:21)
IRA Custodian Broker – APEX
Broker – ED&F Man
Bonus – online meetings
- Meeting on Jan 19, 2017 (78:12)
Meeting on Jan 26, 2017 (83:54) Meeting on Feb 2, 2017 (78:27) Meeting on Feb 9, 2017 (82:34)
- Meeting on Feb 16, 2017 (85:02)
Meeting on Feb 23, 2017 (89:15) Meeting on Mar 2, 2017 (92:59) Meeting on Mar 9, 2017 (91:08)
Advanced options analysis spreadsheets
Spread and option chain analysis
You’ll get access to advanced spreadsheets which allow you to get detailed information on various spreads (naked options, verticals, broken wing butterflies, black swan hedges, etc). These spreadsheets can be leveraged in order to try to find extra edge in a position prior to entry (eg seeing that the spread right next to the one you plan to purchase might be available a bit “cheap”), or to help you track your existing positions such that you can see both 1st order and 2nd order greeks.
While doing an option chain deep dive can be potentially useful, note that there is absolutely no need to use these spreadsheets for either setup or management of your trades. We have all of our trade plans fully documented, and entry and management is based on traditional things such as greeks, the dollar value of certain strikes, or expected moves. You can therefore fully trade all of our setups without ever opening any of these spreadsheets.
You’ll also have access to a spreadsheet where you enter your entire (multi-leg) position, and you will then get a full analysis of the 1st and 2nd order greeks for each strike as well as the roll-up greek values for the entire position.
You’ll also be able to display either a 2D or 3D surface graph of any 1st or 2nd order greek of your choosing.
This will give you a level of visibility which is not currently available in any retail trading platform.
Learn a variety of trades
In the main course you’ll learn many important concepts which will allow you to take your trading knowledge to the next level. You’ll also learn a variety of initial “core trades” which will teach you to combine income trades together with partially or fully financed black swan hedges.
Apart from the above, our Mastermind group is always hard at work at coming up with creative new trades and trade variants.
Here are some examples (over 50 trades), all of which are fully documented in the private Mastermind forums.
(Please forgive some of the unusual naming for the trades. Our members have a sense of humor when it comes to naming trades)
While it’s great to have access to so many trades as part of the community, some people may get a bit overwhelmed by having so many choices. If that’s a concern for you, then don’t worry about it. Although there are many newer trades to choose from, you’ll be guided to the 2 or 3 current favorite trade plans once you join. Once you’re comfortable trading 2 or 3 main “core trades” then you can optionally consider expanding your horizon to some of the other trade variants.
Many of these variants have been created by our Mastermind members, which is a testament to the fact that the course will teach you all of the core concepts you need in order to be able to develop the ability to create your own trades or trade variants.
Just being able to watch our very experienced traders apply the concepts taught in the course, and see the trades evolve in front of your eyes, is something which is hugely valuable. Once you see how our traders create, refine, test and optimize trades, you’ll slowly absorb these skills yourself. This will allow you to break the dependency chain from any of the gurus (including me), since you’ll now have the knowledge of how to adapt your trades to the market as the market itself continues to evolve. You can also apply this knowledge in order to customize a particular trade to your own personal preferences, risk tolerance, mechanical vs discretionary, or to your own psychology.
Below you’ll see a few of the trades from the main course or Mastermind community.
Here is a backtest of the Fulcrum2 trade, done by one of our members. The columns shown are: start date, end date, days in trade, and profit/loss.
The target profit for a single tranche of this trade is $1K inside the tent, $500 if to the right of the tent, and there’s a max loss of -$2K. The portfolio margin is approximately $10K.
Here are some interesting stats from a manual backtest on the T5, run by one of our members:
Avg DIT: 10.46
Avg P&L: $820
Total trades: 26
# winners: 23
Largest winner: $3892
# losers: 3
Largest loser: -$915
Here is a backtest of the HS3 trade, done by one of our members.
The target profit for a single tranche of this trade is $1K inside the tent, $500 if to the right of the tent, and there’s a max loss of -$2K. The portfolio margin is approximately $6K.
Take us for a test drive
This is a large course, with over 45 hours of video content, covering a wide variety of advanced options trading concepts. In the course, you’ll get very detailed video instruction which will will take you through everything step by step.
If you haven’t seen any of my presentations in the past, then you’re likely wondering what my teaching ability is like, and if you’ll be able to effectively learn what I teach.
I’ve done guest presentations at some of the largest options trading communities out there. Feel free to review these, as a way of judging my teaching ability. They are best viewed in full-screen mode.
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