Investors in supposed “Yield Enhancement” strategies are learning that the purported safe investment program has significant risk. The Yield Enhancement Strategy (YES) that UBS Financial Services, Inc. (UBS) and other brokerage firms used was marketed as a “safe and efficient” way to enhance the return on a conservative portfolio.
The YES program was represented as an investment program that involved using options strategies that produced small returns but with small risks. UBS is one of a number of brokerage firms that touted the YES approach to customers as a way to make money via the “strategic” buying and selling of SPX index options spreads. The returns were purportedly “incremental” to “underlying asset returns” while giving clients a chance to possibly make money from low yield assets.
Seeking Alpha reports that the brokerage firm told clients that their UBS Yield Enhancement Strategy involved allowing a “mandate” or margin to be placed against their respective portfolios and that this would then be used, via an “iron condor” options trading strategy, to generate returns. It was these particular investors that have sustained the greatest losses when excessive volatility in December—the most that the market has encountered in 30 years—caused the YES strategy to fall.