I'm asking more for a policy perspective. I called the brokerage firms I use and asked about volunteering myself for assignment if a written OTM option becomes ITM and a holder somewhere exercises.

In a different question the accepted answer mentioned that the exchanges assign randomly for fairness. I don't see why allowing volunteers wouldn't be fair. Allowing volunteers would decrease the risk for those who don't want an assignment and increase the chance for those who do.

I picture something like: when an exercise order is received, assign randomly among volunteers and if the volunteers run out switch to the pool of non-volunteers. The exchange could assign with uniform randomness to a broker and if the broker has no volunteers pick another broker. Alternatively brokers could report their number of volunteers and then the exchange could assign with a probability weighted by that number.


Under a scenario that the broker firm has specified the protocol as being random assignment, then it is unfair to prioritise your volunteer for assignment ahead of another who would equally appreciate assignment, but who has not volunteered because he believes the company will abide by their random allocation rule, and therefore considers volunteering unnecessary.

Whilst your solution is an equally valid rule that could be imposed it is more prone to operational error and is administratively costly. If I ran a broker outfit I would choose not to implement it. Instead, I would run the risk of having to politely apologise to rare disgruntled customers whose volunteering, unfortunately, did them no good.

  • $\begingroup$ Those are several disappointingly logical reasons. Maybe someday an entrepreneur looking to create a new exchange will see this question... $\endgroup$ – chew socks Sep 11 '18 at 19:49

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