Global View Investment Blog

Financial Horror Story: The Greatest Threat to a Successful Retirement

We’ve all heard financial horror stories. And some, you’ll never forget. They hit home and make investors worry, could this happen to me too?

The truth is, there are many threats to a “successful retirement.” Many.

Taking too much risk by owning too much equities. Taking an unsustainably high withdrawal. Not getting Social Security right. Not making sure long-term care needs are insured or funded. The list goes on.

But the worst threat of all could be a very simple, highly overlooked one. Many successful corporate executives put in the best working years of their lives at a company. They climb the ladder, put their kids through college, put money away and are looking at an easy retirement. But unfortunately, they made a simple mistake. They kept the bulk of their savings in their company stock.

Gary Zabroski is a perfect example. He started at GE in 1976, rose to the top of the ladder and retired at 61. He received a nice pension and a nice sum of company stock. But right after he retired, the value of his stock plummeted and is now worth less than half of what it was. GE lost twice as much as Enron and more than twice the combined market capitalization of Lehman Brothers and General Motors during the financial crisis.

Maybe worse, if GE problems continue, the company may not be able to fund its pension liabilities. GE is underfunded by $30 billion, as of the end of 2017.


You’ve worked hard to get where you are. Don’t make it easy for someone to take it away. Download our free eBook: Financial Planning for Millionaires: Five Ways to Protect What You’ve Built (And Avoid Being a Confusopoly Victim). There are a lot of threats you don’t know about yet. Don’t wait until something happens and it’s too late.


GE is a huge employer in the Carolinas. And GE has loss in market value that is one of the biggest in history. If you are an employee of GE and are concerned, we welcome a chat. If your income and your wealth is tied to your company stock, we strongly suggest you diversify.

Don’t get me wrong. I can’t tell you if GE will recover. Because GE is one of a select group of companies Morningstar believes has a “wide moat” (20-year competitive advantage), I believe the stock will recover. But that’s not an excuse to be concentrated in a single position!

GE is likely to struggle for some time. Integrating the Alstrom acquisition won’t be an overnight endeavor. Even though the stock is attractive on many metrics, it is not a “buy” in our Great Business portfolio; it is a “sell.” Why? Because its earnings are still going the wrong way. After management gets this back in line, I would, nonetheless, expect the stock to recover.

If this is one of the financial horror stories you fear, contact us. We can help.


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Ken Moore

Written by Ken Moore

Ken’s focus is on investment strategy, research and analysis as well as financial planning strategy. Ken plays the lead role of our team identifying investments that fit the philosophy of the Global View approach. He is a strict adherent to Margin of Safety investment principles and has a strong belief in the power of business cycles. On a personal note, Ken was born in 1964 in Lexington Virginia, has been married since 1991. Immediately before locating to Greenville in 1997, Ken lived in New York City.

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