The attorneys at Shepherd Smith Edward & Kantas are investigating the claims of investors who purchased Strategic Return Notes (“SRNs”). Bank of America and Merrill Lynch created Strategic Return Notes, which are an unsecured promissory note issued by Bank of America. Bank of America has no obligation to and will not make any interest payments throughout the duration of the notes, which go through 2016 if held until maturity. Investors also have no guarantee of getting back the original purchase price of the note at maturity. Instead, investors are paid back a variable amount based upon the performance of an underlying index, the Investable Volatility Index (“VOL”).
The VOL is a complicated index which measures the volatility of the S&P 500, essentially attempting to calculate how volatile the stock market as a whole is and predict how volatile it will be in the coming months. If the computation indicates that the market will be less volatile, or that the market will fluctuate less in the time period, then the index falls. Conversely, if the computation indicates that the market will be more volatile in the coming months, then the index rises. The result is that investors in these SRNs achieve returns or losses based not upon how high the market rises or how low it falls, but rather on how wildly the market was swinging on the way there.
These products are very complicated, and are only suitable for certain types of investors. It is believed that many investors who were sold these products were not told the risks that were involved, or were promised that this product could be used as a hedge to reduce overall portfolio risk when that was not true. Many investors have suffered substantial losses in these products.