New Options symbology – Microsoft Money compatible?

I’ve seen questions and comments on various blogs regarding the new symbology for call and put options and how there don’t appear to be enough characters in the symbol field within Microsoft Money to accomodate the new symbols.   I stumbled on instructions specific to using the new symbology in Microsoft Money and thought I would share them here for further exploration.

Since Yahoo! Finance does provide quote data on options (although they are still in the symbology changeover process), we should be able to import this data into Money.    According to their symbology changeover page, they are not going to use the spaces required in the OCC spec.

[UPDATE 3/9/2010]  According to Schwab, Money does accomodate the new 21-character Options symbology and whether you include the spaces just depends on who your source for the quotes is.   Schwab is my brokerage and they are using the spec symbology –  check with your brokerage to see how they want the symbol represented.   You will then get your quotes updated using your OFX downloads.   If you are going to get your quotes using the Quotes Python script rather than from a brokerage statement update, your symbology will not include spaces, so that script should work fine as-is (a workaround might have been required if the symbol included spaces).

I’ve pulled some background information together from Yahoo! and Schwab…

  • What is happening to options symbols?

    The Options Clearing Corporation (OCC), an industry-wide body that oversees the clearance and settlement of exchange-listed options traded on all 7 options exchanges in the U.S., is instituting a change in the way options symbols are represented in data transmissions between financial services firms.

    Options symbols will increase in length from 5 characters to 21 characters  as part of a new industry standard format used in back-end operations, and will contain both numbers and letters.

    The basic parts of new option symbol are:  Root symbol + [spaces*]+ Expiration Year(yy)+ Expiration Month(mm)+ Expiration Day(dd) + Call/Put Indicator (C or P) + Strike price

    The root symbol will be the same as the ticker symbol.

    * Spaces ~ In order for the symbol to always be 21 characters, the following guideline applies to the number of spaces:

    5-character root symbols are followed by 1 space
    4-character root symbols are followed by 2 spaces
    3-character root symbols are followed by 3 spaces
    2-character root symbols are followed by 4 spaces
    1-character root symbols are followed by 5 spaces

  • Why are options symbols changing?

    The OCC has decided to undertake this change in response to changes in technology and the proliferation of new options products by the exchanges. The number and types of options products have grown substantially in recent years, straining the capacity of the original symbol format. The new, longer symbol format will be able to accommodate new products and support future growth.

  • When are these changes taking place?

    The transition to the new symbol format will happen in two phases. The first phase, which is known as “conversion,” consists of switching of all options symbols from the old 5-character symbol format to the new 21-character symbol format.

    The OCC has mandated an industry-wide deadline of  February 12, 2010 by which every firm supporting options must convert to the longer format.

  • Can you explain the second phase of these changes, known as the “consolidation process”?

    After February 12, 2010, the second phase begins. The OCC will initiate a process known as “consolidation,” which should last 3 to 4 months. During this period, options with root symbols that are different from the underlying ticker symbol will go through a multi-step consolidation process, after which the root symbol will match the underlying ticker symbol.

  • Will I be able to use the new options symbols in my  Microsoft Money® program?

    Yes, you will.   Schwab has created special instructions that explain what you need to do to accommodate the new symbol format for Microsoft Money.

  •     Click here  for the Microsoft Money instructions.

  • – ameridan



    1. Phillip said

      I do not think that the symbols should be a problem for any version of Money since all OFX specifications define the UNIQUEID field as being 32 characters long.

      iCreateOFX – Convert CSV and QIF to OFX

    2. ameridan said

      Thank you for your reply Phillip. Actually the script already does work for options using the old symbols – I guess we’ll have to wait awhile yet for Yahoo! to transition per their Symbology changeover page

      It looks like they are not planning to use the spaces that are in the spec.

    3. Ian said

      I installed the sunset editions of Money and imported a statement with 21 character option symbols. It seems these editions cannot cope with them well. It thought two different options were the same because it truncated the symbols after 12 characters.

      Also the interface is different than in the Schwab example shown above, instead of one field for the option symbol of 21 characters the symbol field accepts only 15 characters (but only saves 12 of them!). There is also a separate field underneath not present in the Schwab to select the underlying.

      Anyone have advice on how to use this version for options and why is it different from the one Schwab is using (and where can I get their version)?

    4. ameridan said

      Money works should work fine with Option quotes and transactions from Schwab, but getting quotes from Yahoo may be a different story. As you can see, the comment prior to yours is over a year ago, and I’m not sure if anything has changed during that time. Perhaps Hung Le will see this and chime in regarding his app – seems to me I read that he had success for option quotes from Google or FT.

      • Ian said

        ameridan, thanks for the reply.

        It’s not so much the import that is the problem but that the Sunset version does not allow 21 characters. Clearly the picture on this earlier on the page does allow that many. So I am wondering if this is an earlier version (and the sunset one went backwards).

        Any idea what version is shown earlier on this page?

      • Hung Le said

        Regarding options: I only did the work to be able to fetch the price from Yahoo: make it possible to specify the quote-source symbol and parse the returning data. I also provide a way to map the long-name to a shorter-name for MM to consume. The person who reported success was using his own short-name encoding within MM.

        Hope that makes sense.

    5. ameridan said


      My statement that Money should work fine with the 21-character symbol was based on the example Schwab had shown, but you are correct – with Version 17, I am not able to input more than 15 characters (which then truncates itself to 12 characters) and I am therefore stumped as well. Options quotes are probably an ideal candidate for the mapping option that Hung Le has added to the java app!

      I just signed up with OptionsXpress yesteday to start trading Options (and get my $100 bonus), having just learned yesterday that Schwab just bought them out. (I see they offer OFX downloads via PocketSense too and you get real-time quotes)

      Having said that, Ken stated in the PocketSense comments (Jan 2011) that his Options quotes from Fidelity work fine, and I imagine they work fine with Schwab as well – though the symbols may not be the proper 21-characters. Even without the spaces, you would need 18 characters.

      You make a good observation that the Version 16 shown (that’s what it looks like to me) which is Money 2007 may have been better suited regarding the symbology field length.

      • Ian said

        Managed to obtain a copy of Money 2007 (Version 16). It does not have space for 21 characters either. It’s not 2006 either as that is what I have.

        I am thinking of switching to GNUCash!!

    6. ameridan said

      Don’t give up yet Ian. The newest version of PocketSense has a mapping option now too, and although I have not yet tried it, others have. I’ve never bought options before, but now that I have an account established at OptionsXpress, I may purchase one or two this week (after I learn more about them). Anyways, using the Schwab example…

      Added mapping option for Yahoo quotes:

      Example: POT10082200095000 s:POT100822000

      s:value: User defined symbol to send to Money (rather than Yahoo ticker symbol).

      The Yahoo quote will be for option ticker = POT10082200095000, but Money will see it as ticker = POT100822000.

      So, in Money, for the Potash Corp. option you could use the truncated 12-character symbol POT100822000 instead of the actual 18-character symbol POT10082200095000 (21-characters minus the spaces) and they should be mapped together. Let us know! I’ll update the Blog once we know that will resolve this issue.

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