Underlying asset

Underlying asset

The real financial asset or security that a financial derivative is based on is the underlying asset in the investment world. The basic building blocks for derivatives contracts are underlying assets.  

Such securities have both upside and negative risk, with the potential to outperform or underperform the nation’s current economic situation. If the positions in such assets are not frequently checked, it could be very speculative and lead to immediate value depreciation. 

What is an underlying asset? 

The asset on which financial instruments, such as derivatives, are based is an underlying asset. The derivatives’ value is derived from these assets. A component of the agreement that adds value to the contract is referred to as an underlying asset. The underlying asset supports the parties’ agreed-upon derivatives contract. Stocks, market indexes, currencies, commodities, and other assets can all be used as underlying assets. 

For instance, an option on stock “X” offers the holder the ability to purchase or sell the shares up to expiration at the strike price. The stock of “X” serves as the option’s underlying asset. 

Underlying asset - examples 

Let’s use the following illustration to grasp underlying assets better: 

In addition to being used for investment, gold is a highly well-liked instrument commodity. The rising levels of inflation can be slowed down by gold, which also slows down any potential decline in the value of US dollars. The dollar is recognised as a legitimate world currency.  

A fundamental asset that never loses value is gold. Gold can be used as an alternative investment strategy to control inflation, stop the loss of value, and lessen the potential effects of a dollar collapse whenever the currency collapses in the face of rising inflation. 

Types of underlying assets 

The various types of underlying assets are: 

  • Stocks 

The financial claim that represents the investor’s or holder’s proportional ownership of the profits and total assets of the issuing company is known as the stock. Common and preferred stocks are two different types of stocks. Stocks are typically issued to raise money for high-growth initiatives or corporate operations. 

Exchange-traded funds are a unique type of mutual fund whose underlying index serves as its benchmark. It is a collection of securities that form one whole. 

  • Market index 

The collection of securities is referred to as the market index. The display might concentrate on a certain sector of the financial market. They are made to evaluate how well the financial markets are performing. To create passive investment methods, the index is used. 

  • Commodity 

The tool used in business and commerce-related tasks is a commodity. These products serve as raw materials for general commerce and commercial activity creation. The most frequently traded items on the commodities market are gold and silver. 

  • Currency 

Currency is an instrument of monetary exchange that replaces the conventional barter system and is widely accepted in a particular nation. Many nations may use various currencies. The US dollar is the world’s most commonly used and received the money. 

  • Bonds 

A financial product known as a bond provides the holder with fixed interest payments. Bonds are issued by businesses and government entities to raise money for funding commercial and government projects. Such instruments’ owners are referred to as creditors of debt. 

Disadvantages of an underlying asset 

The following are a few of the disadvantages of underlying assets: 

  • It is possible to use specific variations of underlying assets for speculation. This results in an equal likelihood of losing money invested in such assets fast. 
  • Every subordinate asset kind entails a unique risk. Bonds are subject to counterparty and default risk, whereas stocks and commodities are subject to investment risk. 
  • There may be some underlying asset classes whose derivatives can only be traded and settled in the over-the-counter sector. If either side defaults, this could result in default and counterparty risk. 
  • The underlying asset’s performance must be frequently evaluated to minimise and control any potential risks connected to these assets. 

Advantages of an underlying asset 

  • Stocks are one example of an underlying asset variation that is very marketable. 
  • They have a well-organised financial market encouraging securities trading among various parties and promoting liquidity. 
  • After keeping such securities for a sizable investment horizon, many investors achieve high returns using the underlying assets as investments. 
  • The transaction costs associated with trading such assets are generally cheap since these assets have an organised market. 

Frequently Asked Questions

The features of underlying assets are: 

  • The financial innovations known as derivatives can derive their values from the underlying assets. 
  • The positions taken on the underlying assets are hedged using derivatives. 
  • It is always advisable to maintain a position in derivative contracts that is opposite and equivalent to the place of the underlying assets. 
  • After a position is taken, any change in the value of the underlying asset might negate all attempts at hedging and, at the same time, turn the entire situation into a dangerous situation. 
  • In such circumstances, the hedger or investor may suffer a swift loss of capital instead of gradual gains. 

The stock itself is the underlying asset in situations involving stock options. The underlying asset, for instance, is the stock of Company X in the case of a stock option to buy 100 shares of that company for US$100. Up to expiration, the option’s value is determined by the underlying asset. 

The word “underlying” most frequently refers to derivative contracts, which are commonly built on another asset. One of the most common derivatives trades, options allow traders to place complex wagers on the future value of individual equities or commodities. 


Price changes in an underlying asset’s derivatives typically result from price changes in the underlying asset. A call option, for instance, signifies the ability to purchase a specific stock at a price. 


In most cases, the market price is described as the price an asset would fetch in a deal between a willing seller and a willing buyer, both of whom had reasonable awareness of the pertinent facts and were not under undue duress. 

The term underlying value typically refers to the total of the individual fair market values of the assets that make up a business (cash, real estate, buildings, equipment, patents, trademarks, etc., fewer debts and liabilities), whether the business is being operated as a going concern or for liquidation. 



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