UBS Ordered to Pay Investors Back for Damages in YES Strategy Case

Chicago-based Stoltmann Law Offices has represented investors who’ve suffered investment losses as a result of negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and other violations by UBS Financial Services and its financial advisors.

Recently, FINRA, the U.S. securities industry regulator,  ordered UBS to pay more than $800,000 to two couples who had lost money in the company’s YES strategy, according to AdvisorHub.com.Investors Robert and Marcia Shinbrot recovered their full $269,337.09 loss plus prejudgment interest of $45,009.80 while Nicholas and Brigit Trentalange recovered their full $421,868.58 loss plus prejudgment interest of $70,499.93, according to the FINRA award.

Robert Shinbrot and Nicholas Trentalange were business partners in ForwardThink Group, a company acquired for $46 million by tech consulting firm Perficient in 2014. A separate FINRA panel awarded Houston investor Daniel Ferber the full $358,000 in damages he had sought, but denied his requests for interest and fees and costs.

The UBS YES strategy, according to AdvisorHub, “was designed as a market-neutral strategy that could generate additional cash flow from lower-yielding assets through the sale and purchase of S&P 500 index option spreads, according to a UBS marketing brochure. It had a defined maximum loss that would be limited to premiums paid as well as assured income from collecting premiums for writing options,” according to reports issued to investors.

As an ultra-complex “alternative investment” strategy, the YES program was often marketed to clients who were told by UBS brokers they could insulate themselves from losses and stock market risk. “YES” is an acronym for “yield enhancement strategy,” which was pitched as a way to earn high yields while eliminating market risk. Opaque options trading strategies were employed to achieve the program’s goals.

Returns in YES portfolios plummeted by about 20% in 2018, however, when the S&P 500 tanked in December of that year, and had deteriorated by more than 40% amid the extreme market volatility sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to UBS reports. About 1,500 UBS clients invested some $6 billion in the YES strategy, resulting in hundreds of investor arbitration claims. The core of the claims is that UBS “misrepresented the risks of the options strategy.”

A UBS spokesman told AdvisorHub that participation in the YES program was “generally limited to sophisticated investors with a net worth of at least $5 million and appropriate risk tolerances for the options strategy.”

“The benefits and risks of the YES strategy were clearly disclosed to our clients, and they acknowledged in writing that significant market movements could result in losses and that they should not participate in the strategy unless they were prepared for the potential of large losses,” he said.

If you invested money in the UBS-YES strategy and lost money as a result, you may have a claim to pursue through FINRA Arbitration. Please contact Stoltmann Law Offices, P.C. at 312-332-4200 for a free, no obligation consultation with a securities attorney. Stoltmann Law Offices is a contingency fee law firm which means we do not get paid until you do!

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