All-Or-None Order

What Is An All-Or-None Order (AON)?

What is an All or None Order (AON)? It is an important tool for traders looking to buy or sell a specific number of shares without the risk of a partial fill. If the order can’t be fully completed, it won’t be executed at all. Essential for those dealing with large quantities or in illiquid markets, an AON ensures that your trade is all in or not at all. In this article, we’ll explore when and why to use this approach, its strategic value in trading, and how it compares to other types of orders.

Key Takeaways

  • All or None (AON) orders require that the entire order be executed entirely or not at all, preventing partial fills and providing certainty of transaction price especially in illiquid or volatile markets.
  • AON orders have strategic uses in risk management by ensuring large trades are executed in full at specified prices, aiding investors in managing market impact and avoiding undesirable price fluctuations.
  • AON orders face execution challenges due to their stringent conditions, often having lower priority and longer wait times for execution, and higher risks of cancellation in illiquid markets compared to other order types.

Deciphering the All or None (AON) Order

Illustration of a complete trade

All or None (AON) orders are directive to execute the entire order at once or not at all, ensuring that no partial execution occurs. These orders are particularly useful for investors who wish to prevent their orders from being partially filled, which might happen with large orders in smaller, less liquid markets. AON orders offer investors certainty of the transaction price by executing the entire block of shares at once in a single transaction.

When an AON order is placed, the investor specifies the number of shares they wish to buy or sell. If the order cannot be filled entirely due to market conditions, it will not be executed. This makes the AON order suitable for situations where the investor is certain about the specific number of shares they wish to buy or sell.

The Mechanics Behind an AON Order

An AON order is a condition set by the investor, specifying that the order must be filled completely or not at all. This contrasts sharply with market orders, which execute immediately at the current market price and allow for partial fills. An AON order is placed through the order entry panel, detailing the specific number of shares to be bought or sold and the condition for complete execution.

Once an AON order is placed, it remains active in the trading system until it can be completely filled or the investor chooses to cancel it. This underlines the commitment of the investor to remain active in their trading strategy and the precision required in executing AON orders.

When Does an AON Order Come into Play?

AON orders come into play in various scenarios, particularly in illiquid and volatile markets where asset quantities are scarce and difficult to fill. They are also significant when dealing with penny stocks, ensuring the investor receives the entire quantity of shares they requested, or none at all.

Specificity of Price in AON Orders

An all-or-none order with a limit price combines the characteristics of both order types by ensuring that an entire order is filled at a specific target price, avoiding partial fills. Unlike limit orders that allow traders to specify a maximum purchase price or a minimum price for selling, a standard AON order prioritizes full order execution without specifying price constraints.

Thus, implementing a limit price within an AON order provides investors with both full quantity execution and price control.

The Strategic Use of All or None Orders in Trading

Illustration of managing large trades

All or None (AON) orders strategically prevent partial fills, benefiting traders by ensuring the entire order body is filled. This is particularly useful when dealing with thinly traded securities or when a complete fill is necessary for strategy execution. Portfolio managers use technical analysis, such as identifying stock price patterns and assessing trading volume, to strategically decide when to place AON orders to capture anticipated price movements without risking partial execution.

Furthermore, fundamental analysis, which involves evaluating financial statements and industry ratios, can dictate the strategic use of AON orders by portfolio managers who aim to time their trades based on the comparative valuations within an industry. In this way, AON orders can be a critical tool in an investor’s arsenal for managing large trades and mitigating risks.

AON Orders to Manage Large Trades

AON orders are typically utilized by investors who aim to:

  • Buy or sell a large quantity of shares in a single transaction, rather than executing multiple smaller trades that could influence the market price
  • Minimize the market impact of large orders
  • Prevent price fluctuations and slippage.

However, large AON orders can face difficulties in filling due to the volume of shares required. This is particularly challenging in illiquid markets where it is hard to find enough assets to meet large order requirements. Yet, AON orders provide a benefit by securing sufficient asset volumes for the trader.

Risk Management with AON Orders

AON orders offer a valuable tool for risk management. They provide assurance of full trade execution, either fulfilling the entire order at once or not at all. In markets with low liquidity, traders utilize AON orders to handle large volumes without significantly impacting the stock’s price.

Using AON orders also mitigates the risks from price fluctuations by ensuring that trades get executed only at the specified limit price for the complete order. This level of control can be particularly beneficial in volatile market conditions where prices can change rapidly.

Comparing AON with Other Order Types

Illustration comparing AON with market order

Market orders and AON orders cater to different investor preferences. While market orders are preferred by investors who prioritize instant execution of their trade, AON orders cater to those who require their entire order to be filled at a specified price. This difference in focus can have significant implications for the investor’s trading strategy and outcomes.

AON vs. Market Order: A Contrast of Certainty and Speed

On one hand, All or None (AON) orders guarantee a specific price for the entire quantity, contrasting with market orders that execute immediately regardless of price. AON orders ensure investors buy or sell the full number of shares desired at a set price, preventing piecemeal execution.

On the other hand, market orders prioritize speed over price. They are filled immediately at the best available current market price. When quick execution is necessary, market orders are the optimal choice as they do not guarantee a specific price but ensure immediate trade completion.

AON and Limit Orders: Complementary or Competing?

Limit orders and AON orders can be seen as complementary or competing, depending on the investor’s perspective. A limit order allows an investor to specify a maximum purchase price or a minimum selling price for a security, contrasting the AON order requirement for an entire order to be executed at the limit price or not at all.

An AON order mandates complete fulfillment of the order at the specified price, while limit orders can be filled partially and may be executed in increments over time as market conditions allow. Understanding the differences between these order types can help investors make better decisions about which one to use in a given situation.

Navigating Execution Challenges with AON Orders

Illustration of waiting time for AON order execution

While AON orders offer many advantages, they also come with their own set of challenges. For instance, AON orders can experience prolonged downtimes, as they may take days or weeks to find a match in the market, which can be disadvantageous in rapidly moving markets.

Additionally, AON orders can be less flexible and less likely to be matched with other orders, which may result in lower priority for execution compared to other order types.

The lower execution priority of AON orders, due to their less flexible nature and harder match-ability with available orders, often leads to potential delays in execution or non-execution. Moreover, AON orders may remain unfilled if the market does not have enough shares available at the specified price, resulting in the order being canceled rather than partially filled.

Timing and Execution: The Waiting Game

AON orders often require more time to execute compared to regular orders because they must be completely filled at once. This need to fill the order in its entirety can lead to significant waiting times and delayed deal execution, especially in illiquid markets or for large orders.

The execution time of an AON order can be impacted by order conditions and the liquidity of the stock, stretching out the time frame for a transaction. Therefore, investors utilizing AON orders must be prepared for the possibility of lengthy waiting periods due to the stringent conditions for order execution.

Liquidity Considerations for AON Orders

AON orders are particularly effective in illiquid markets to prevent undesirable price impacts from partial fills, and they are more likely to be filled in stocks with high daily trading volumes. However, large AON orders in markets with low liquidity are hard to execute as they may account for a significant portion of the daily trading volume, thereby reducing the chances of execution at the specified price.

All or none orders have a higher risk of not being filled or being canceled in comparison to regular market or immediate or cancel order types, partly because they must find a match for the whole order quantity at once. Unlike limit orders that can be filled partially or at multiple venues, AON orders require full execution in one place, which can limit their execution and contribute to their higher cancelation rates.

Real-World Examples of AON Orders

Illustration of executing large volume trade with AON order

To further illustrate the practical application of AON orders, let’s consider a few real-world examples. An investor looking to purchase a significant block of shares without disturbing the market price used an AON order to ensure that the entire order would execute at a single price point. In a bullish market scenario, an investor was able to acquire a large quantity of stock while avoiding the usual price premium associated with such a significant purchase by using an AON order.

An investor dealing with a thinly traded stock utilized an AON order in stock trading to avoid partial fill situations, which could have led to an incomplete strategy and undesirable average pricing, ultimately affecting the stock’s price.

Case Study: Executing a Large Volume Trade

Let’s consider a case study where an investor used an AON order to execute a large volume trade. In this scenario, the AON order ensured that a large stock order was executed in its entirety without partial fills, which might prevent influencing the stock price unfavorably.

The need to fill the order in its entirety led to significant waiting times and delayed deal execution, especially in illiquid markets or for large orders. Despite these challenges, the investor was able to secure all the shares they desired at their preferred price, demonstrating the power of AON orders in managing large trades.

Analysis: AON Order to Buy in a Bullish Market

In a bullish market scenario, where stock prices are expected to rise, investors may prefer using an AON order to avoid the risk of escalating prices affecting their large volume purchase. By enabling the acquisition of a significant amount of shares at once, without impacting market price through multiple smaller transactions, AON orders can be a strategic tool in a bullish market.


In summary, All or None (AON) orders are a powerful tool for investors, offering control over price and quantity in trades. They protect investors from partial fills, ensure complete execution at a specified price, and are particularly useful for managing large trades and mitigating risks in volatile and illiquid markets.

However, they also come with their own set of challenges, including potentially prolonged downtimes and lower execution priority. Understanding these intricacies can help investors leverage AON orders to their advantage.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an All or None (AON) order?

An AON (All or None) order is a directive from investors that ensures an order is either filled completely or not at all, preventing partial fills at a specified price. This helps in ensuring the entire number of securities desired is transacted.

When is an AON order typically used?

AON orders are typically used in illiquid and volatile markets, as well as when dealing with large orders or penny stocks, to ensure the entire order is executed at once.

How is an AON order different from a market order?

An AON order is different form a market order because it demands complete fulfillment at a specified price and does not allow for partial fills, whereas a market order prioritizes immediate execution at the current market price.

What are the challenges associated with AON orders?

The challenges associated with AON orders are periods of inactivity and lower execution priority compared to other order types due to their limited flexibility and match-ability, leading to potential delays and missed trading opportunities.

How are AON orders used in real-world trading scenarios?

AON orders are used in real-world trading scenarios to execute large volume trades, acquire stocks in bullish markets, and deal with thinly traded securities. They ensure the entire order is executed at a specified price, avoiding partial fills and unfavorable price impacts.

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