I never thought I'd cry when looking at my portfolio


The unthinkable has happened. The sight of my portfolio of investments has reduced me to tears. Who wouldn't be crying when looking at 40% of their value gone this year? Even worse than the sheer magnitude of my losses... what those losses mean to me and to others.

I'm lucky. I don't need my retirement funds for at least 20 years or more. There is no doubt in my mind that I will have recovered all the lost value well before that. I worry about those who don't have years to wait, though. They're the big losers in all of this. Think about all the Baby Boomers who scrimped and saved to get to retirement, only to see their hard earned dollars massively reduced in a period of a few weeks.

Some Boomer friends of mine who were invested more conservatively have seen their portfolio drop "only" 15%. Imagine the impact of that over 20 years of retirement. These retirees need to draw on their accounts now, and can't wait to recover value. The portfolios of all retirees are going to be depleted much quicker than they thought.

Who would have thought that the people with all their money in certificates of deposit earning 3% or 4% would now look like geniuses? They were missing out on stock market gains, but now are feeling pretty good about the fact that their principal investment was protected.

This is depressing. And each day I tell myself that the bottom has to be near; that my investments can't go down much further than they already have. And each day Wall Street surprises me with a hefty drop in my value. There's not much to be done about my ailing retirement fund, other than to work hard and keep saving for the retirement that will hopefully still be funded when I get there.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.