If you fear that electronic proof of ownership of your investments is at
risk, consider taking these simple steps to prove your ownership, if necessary:
1) Keep your own, hardcopy financial records.
In other words, gather your confirmation statements. If you no longer have
your confirmation statements, or any evidence of the cost of your investments,
note the date and approximate time you purchased your stocks, bonds and mutual
funds. Make note of the number of shares purchased, and naturally, the funds
purchased and the companies invested in.
The more gloom and doom question regarding Y2K is, "Will the stock
market crash?" It wonít matter if you are a long-term investor (as long
as the stock market recovers from the crash quickly). If you are a short-term
investor, itís time to examine or re-examine your tolerance for market risk.
Economists have said that the U.S. economy is strong, but if most investors only
care about what other investors will do as we near the end of the year, and most
investors think that most investors will sell their securities between now and
the end of the year, watch out! Your timing of this occurrence will have to be
accurate for you to minimize the losses.
On the other hand, the coming of a new year and new millennium often brings
great joy and optimism. If most investors feel optimistic, and youíre bearish,
you will miss opportunities to make the most of your money. No one knows what
others will do, just be sure that you know what you want to do, and why. Some
experts suggest taking some money out of your account, enough for a three-day or
week-long spending cycle.
2) Call your brokerage firm and ask them about their compliance.
The financial services industry, represented by the Securities Industry
Association (SIA) has participated in the testing of hundreds of securities
firms. The SIA has also helped create contingency plans in the event there is a
Y2K problem. The SIA has recommended, among other things, that all U.S.
financial markets should close at the same time early in the afternoon of New
So what do you do if you donít have a brokerage account, checking account
or savings account? What if you keep your cash in a shoebox, under the mattress,
or in the dog house? What if you have no money at all, anywhere? We hope that
you will spend January, 2000 committing yourself to financial literacy, creating
your financial success toolbox, and becoming technologically savvy.
Technology, with all its imperfections and untapped potential, is here to
stay, and will become the way many, if not most things, are done. The
telecommunications industry has made it possible for people of modest means to
have access to information that was once the purview of the wealthy. For every
African-American on the web, there are thousands who are not. Donít let fear
of technology keep your family and friends in the dark about investing, and thus
in the poor house. Letís make 2000 the year we revitalized our minds, and
gear ourselves toward financial success, online or off.