Historically, the month of October is one of the more volatile months, but this year that was not the case. Still, investors should have a hedging strategy, even as stocks push to record highs.
Because the "economy is firing on all cylinders," the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index (VIX.X) had the smallest range of moves since 1964, according to Tom White, director and chief strategist of TradeWise Advisors, a subsidiary of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. (AMTD) . Currently, the VIX is currently just above 10 but prior to the event the VIX at around nine-and-a-half, which represents an annualized number that the market expects the S&P 500 to move in the next 30 days. Volatility is usually measured as a percentage, with percent per annum as the most common unit of volatility. The VIX reached an all-time intraday high of 89.52 on Oct. 24, 2008, in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis.
At TheStreet's recent Financial Success Strategies event, options experts acknowledged the lower volatility level and touted the need for hedging strategies in an investor's portfolio.
White suggested looking at exchange traded funds (ETFs) as a way to hedge an investor's overall portfolio. White said that with his clients, he looks at a portfolio and then "beta-weights" it, which is a means for investors to put all of their positions into one standard unit and correlate them to an index or an appropriate ETF. If long or bullish, one could buy put verticals for downside protection in an index such as the S&P 500, which is the market benchmark.
"If you're long a bunch of small caps in your account [and] you're domestically focused, [you might consider buying] some put verticals in January in [something like the iShares Russell 2000 Index] (IWM) with the VIX [near] 9-1/2," White said. "Because the VIX is [near] 9-1/2 -- which isn't an all-time low, but if you go to the individual implied-volatility rates of some of these ETFs right now those are at historical lows -- buying protection is really relatively cheap at this point."
Click here to check out more of what Jim Cramer, JJ Kinahan, CNBC's Jon Najarian and other experts said recently at TheStreet's Financial Success Strategies symposium in New York City.