Options Symbology Initiative (OSI)


Due to the significant growth of the options market, the Options Clearing Corporation (OCC) has enacted an industry-wide initiative known as the Options Symbology Initiative (OSI). Fidelity implemented changes during the weekend of January 23, 2010. The new options symbology expands the current option series key, commonly referred to as the OPRA symbol, from a 5 character convention to a new key that accommodates up to 22 characters.

Benefits of the symbol change

How this change affects you

For more in-depth information concerning the Option Symbology Initiative you can go to the following industry website: http://www.theocc.com/initiatives/symbology/default.jsp.

Proposed Timeline

To allow for a more orderly transition from old symbology to new symbology, the OCC will use a two-phased approach. Phase One, Conversion, rolled out elements of the new symbology. Phase Two, Consolidation, will introduce all aspects of the new convention and will complete the process.

Phase One weekend of January 23, 2010

Phase One involved converting the old OPRA-based symbology to the new OSI symbology and its 4 key fields: Option Root Symbol, Expiration Date, Call/Put Indicator and Strike Price.

For example:

Phase Two March 12, 2010 through May 14, 2010

Phase Two involves simplifying the root symbols. The multiple-option root symbols currently used to identify options will be replaced by the symbol of the underlying stock.

For example:

Below is a detailed look at the upcoming changes. Please carefully review the following symbol formats and timelines.

Phase 1: What is Conversion? weekend of January 23, 2010

It is the date that the OLD SYMBOLOGY became “inactive” and the NEW OSI SYMBOLOGY became “active” for all processes. At Fidelity we switched to the new OSI format during the weekend of January 23, 2010. The industry mandated cutover date was February 12, 2010.

What did this mean for you?

Until the weekend of January 23, 2010 you used to get quotes and place orders under the old symbology. After January 23, 2010 you will get quotes, analyze options, and place orders using the new symbology.

Phase 2: What is Consolidation? March 12, 2010 through May 14, 2010

The second stage of the Option Symbology Initiative, Consolidation, begins on March 12, 2010. Consolidation is the process of converting option root symbols that share the same underlying to the same underlying stock or index symbol. In nearly all cases, the resulting symbol will be the same as the underlying symbol. All standard, LEAPS, wraps and short dated option symbols with an underlying of Microsoft will be converted to MSFT. For example, standard MSQ series will be converted to MSFT.

There are a few known exceptions to the consolidation strategy above. One is for previously adjusted options with non-standard terms of delivery. The strategy for consolidating these nonstandard options is to convert the symbol to the primary underlying appended by a single integer. The initial integer being appended will be the number “1”, and incremented for subsequent non-standard options. For example, MSZ is the result of a prior adjustment and has multiple deliverables with the primary deliverable being MSFT. When Microsoft options are consolidated, MSZ options would become MSFT1.

The goal of this approach is to have all classes consolidated prior to June 2010. The list below reflects both the dates and underlying stock and indexes whose options will begin trading under the consolidated and FINAL symbol.

March 12, 2010

The following is the initial group of stock and indexes that will be converted to the final symbol format.


If an index or stock was not part of the March 12th consolidation it will be converted based on the following schedule.

Stocks Consolidation Date
A-C April 9, 2010
D - I April 23, 2010
J - R May 7, 2010
S - Z May 14, 2010

Additionally, if during the last consolidation event scheduled for May 14, 2010, a stock or index is subject to a corporate action, that class will be removed and consolidated on Tuesday, May 18, 2010.

Option Symbology Key

It is important to note that Fidelity.com, ActiveTrader Pro and OptionTrader Pro will continue to offer existing functionality in the same manner as you are currently accustomed. The only change will be the symbol used. Below is a detailed explanation of the old option symbology and the new option series key for both conversion and consolidation.

Current options series key:

The OPRA series key is comprised of 3 individual data elements (Underlying, Expiration Date, and Strike Price) that collectively were used to fully qualify a unique option. The Expiration Month and Strike Price Indicator elements were derived from translation tables.

Here is an overview of the current OPRA code symbology:

For a Microsoft January 22, 2011 27.50 Call, the symbol was -VMFAY, where the first one to three characters represented Contract Symbol (in this case VMF translates to MSFT), the next character represented Expiration Month, and the final character represented the Strike Price Indicator.

New Option Symbol Format — after Phase 1 Conversion (weekend of January 23, 2010)

The new OSI symbol format contains 4 key fields: Underlying, Date, Call/Put Indicator and Strike Price. IMPORTANT! — These 4 fields are strung together with no spaces in between to create the new OSI symbol format. During conversion the “underlying” contract symbol will be the unique root symbol used to identify the underlying in the old symbology.

For example, Microsoft, under the old symbology, has several different root codes to identify the underlying. Those identifiers or root codes (-MQF, -MSQ, -WMF and -VMF) are used to identify those specific options. After consolidation, all of the unique identifiers will be converted to MSFT and adjusted options will be identified with an appended integer.

Nature of the symbol change (OSI Symbol — Up to 22 characters) — the new options symbol format will include:

For a Microsoft January 22, 2011 27.50 Call, the Conversion Phase symbol is -VMF110122C27.5, where the first one to six characters with no trailing spaces represent Underlying (in this case VMF translates to MSFT), the next six characters represent Expiration (YYMMDD), the next character represents Call/Put Indicator, and the final characters represent Strike Price.

During Conversion, the root symbol of the contract will be the underlying identifier under old/current symbology. Date is a full numeric representation of the contract's original expiration date (YYMMDD); for example, November 21, 2009 becomes 091121 and January 16, 2010 becomes 100116. For the Call/Put Indicator, "C" is used for Call; “P” is used for Put. Strike Price is a full numeric representation, including the decimal point with fraction up to three spaces (with no trailing zeroes); for example, 100.00 becomes 100, 27.50 becomes 27.5, 37.125 remains 37.125, and 52.50 becomes 52.5.

New Option Symbol Format — after Phase 2 Consolidation (begins March 12, 2010)

Adjusted options For a Microsoft January 22, 2011 27.50 Call, the Consolidated (final) symbol is -MSFT110122C27.5, where the first one to six characters with no trailing spaces represent Underlying and the remainder of the symbol is unchanged from Conversion Phase.

After Consolidation, the underlying identifier will convert to the stock symbol for the underlying; for example, MQF becomes MSFT, MSQ becomes MSFT, VMF becomes MSFT, and WMF becomes MSFT.

Adjusted options will be followed by an integer to indicate that the option is non-standard.

Adjusted Options

Adjusted options will be followed by an integer to indicate that the option is non-standard. This means it represents something other than the typical 100 share deliverable when an option is issued. The first adjustment will be designated by a number “1” after the underlying symbol. The second adjustment for the same option will be designated by a number “2” and so on, if applicable. See below for detailed information on the change.

Example: Microsoft goes through a 3/2 stock split:

Notice that after Consolidation the number “1” now follows MSFT. This additional designation indicates that this option has undergone an adjustment and is a non-standard option.

Note: A leading hyphen is used by Fidelity to identify the instrument as an option.

Examples and company trading symbols mentioned herein are provided for illustrative purposes only and should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for the security.