On Financial Futures for Physicians

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What it is – How it works?

By Tim McIntosh MBA CFP CMP® MPH www.SIPLLC.com

Courtesy: http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

TMA future is a financial derivative that represents the purchase of a particular investment at a predetermined date. Futures are traded on a wide range of investments (e.g., baskets of stocks, interest rates, currencies and commodities) and are useful tools for controlling the risk of cash flow timing for those that wish to lock in a particular price for a security.

Futures versus Options

Likewise, they also provide some insight as to the expected future price in the market of the security.

The key difference between futures and options is that futures obligate both parties to make the agreed upon transaction, whereas options give the option holder the right, but not the requirement, to make the transaction.


Futures are typically traded on an organized exchange, such as the Chicago Board of Trade (e.g., interest rate and stock index futures) or the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (e.g., foreign exchange and stock futures). The design of the contract traded on an exchange typically includes a pre-defined contract size and delivery month.

Margin Maintenance

Also, futures transactions generally require maintaining a margin deposit (i.e., a fraction of the trade value held in reserve to help ensure the final settlement at the contract settlement date) and the recognition of gains and losses on a daily basis with movements in contract prices.

Japan and world markets tumbling - dollar stronger


The pricing of a futures contract is based upon the price of the underlying security (e.g., the S&P 500 Index price), the opportunity cost of cash (e.g., current borrowing rates) and any distributions expected from the security over the period (e.g., dividends).


MORE: Futures

About the Author

Timothy J. McIntosh is Chief Investment Officer and founder of SIPCO.  As chairman of the firm’s investment committee, he oversees all aspects of major client accounts and serves as lead portfolio manager for the firm’s equity and bond portfolios. Mr. McIntosh was a Professor of Finance at Eckerd College from 1998 to 2008. He is the author of The Bear Market Survival Guide and the The Sector Strategist


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