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.