It Takes Three to Smile

9 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2018 Last revised: 20 Nov 2019

Date Written: October 12, 2018


An equation relating the Black-Merton-Scholes Greeks vega, vanna, and volga is derived by making use of the generalised Hull-White formula. Given only three options the equation automatically gives a robust and accurate approximation for the volatility swap strike, the variance swap strike, and a quantity which we name the adjusted correlation. Once the aforementioned quantities have been implied from the three pillar options, an approximation for the entire volatility skew can be constructed. A potentially more interesting implication of the vega-vanna-volga relationship is that the volatility skew can be deformed into a smile in a logically consistent manner. In other words we give a prescription for converting vanilla options priced in a world with non-zero correlation between the index and volatility, to prices in a world in which the correlation would be approximately zero. As valuation of volatility derivatives is significantly easier in a zero correlation world, the translation offers a simplification of the problem of valuation of volatility derivatives in addition to the fact that all the aforementioned results can be achieved starting with only three quoted options on the index.

Keywords: vega, vanna, volga, volatility swap, variance swap, volatility derivative

JEL Classification: G13

Suggested Citation

Rolloos, Frido, It Takes Three to Smile (October 12, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Frido Rolloos (Contact Author)

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

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