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Ventura Wealth Clients
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Technical analysis plays a crucial role in the investment world, offering traders tools to identify trends, assess risk, and make informed decisions. Among these tools, the Relative Volatility Index (RVI) stands out for its ability to gauge the direction and intensity of price fluctuations. This blog post delves into the intricacies of the RVI, explaining its calculation, interpretation, and potential applications in your trading strategy.

Understanding the RVI's origins

Developed by Donald Dorsey, the RVI aimed to address a perceived limitation of traditional volatility indicators like the Average True Range (ATR). The ATR focuses solely on price changes, potentially missing valuable insights from price movements relative to a security's trading range. The RVI offers a more nuanced perspective.

How does the Relative Volatility Index (RVI) work?

The RVI calculation might seem complex at first glance, but it can be broken down into two key steps:

  1. Calculating the Average Volatility:

    • Define a look-back period (n) to determine the timeframe you're interested in analysing (e.g., 14 days).
    • Calculate the difference between each day's closing price and the previous day's closing price within the look-back period (n).
    • Take the absolute value of these price differences to remove negative signs.
    • Finally, calculate the average of these absolute price differences. This represents the average volatility for the chosen look-back period.

  2. Relative Strength Index (RSI) Formula Applied to Volatility:

    • Instead of using price changes, the RVI formula uses the average volatility calculated in step 1.
    • Apply the standard RSI formula, which involves calculating an RSI value between 0 and 100 based on the average volatility.

RVI for options trading

The RVI provides valuable insights based on its numerical value:

  • RVI Above 50: This indicates a period of higher than average volatility, suggesting potential buying opportunities for trend-following traders if the price is rising, or increased caution for short-term traders.
  • RVI Below 50: This suggests a period of lower than average volatility, potentially signalling a continuation of the current trend or a potential breakout if the RVI starts rising along with the price.

Beyond the basics

Here are some strategies to integrate the RVI into your options trading:

  • Confirming Trends: The RVI can be used alongside other trend indicators to confirm an existing uptrend (rising price and rising RVI) or downtrend (falling price and falling RVI).
  • Identifying Trend Reversals: A divergence between the price movement and the RVI can indicate a potential trend reversal. For example, a rising price with a falling RVI might suggest a weakening uptrend and a possible price correction.
  • Gauging Volatility for Entry and Exit Points: The RVI can help assess potential entry and exit points based on volatility levels. During periods of high volatility (RVI above 50), traders might prefer to enter or exit trades with more caution.

Important considerations

While the RVI offers valuable insights, it's essential to acknowledge its limitations:

  • Not Foolproof: The RVI is a technical indicator, and like any indicator, it doesn't guarantee future price movements. Market conditions can still be unpredictable.
  • Parameter Sensitivity: The effectiveness of the RVI can be influenced by the chosen look-back period (n). Experimenting with different periods might be necessary to find the one that best suits your trading style and market conditions.
  • False Signals: The RVI can generate false signals, especially during periods of high market volatility or choppy price movements. Combining it with other indicators can help mitigate this risk.


The Relative Volatility Index equips traders with a valuable tool to gauge market volatility and its direction. By understanding its calculation, interpretation, and limitations, you can integrate the RVI effectively into your technical analysis strategy. Remember, a comprehensive approach that combines multiple indicators and fundamental analysis is crucial for successful trading. Consider consulting with a qualified financial advisor for personalised guidance tailored to your trading goals and risk tolerance.