When clients withdrew $17 billion from Bear Stearns in just two days, they were taking away more than just their money from the 80-year-old financial institution. The 14,000 employees of the bank are mourning the unexpected events and counselors have been rounded up to help them through the process. Many of them won't have a job after all is said and done and everyone with company stock has seen their assets dramatically drop. Think counselors are an excessive corporate measure? Think again — an employee that owned $200,000 in Bear Stearns stock now has an account worth about $2,000. Most employees working for a financial institution that offers proprietary mutual funds or stocks have retirement accounts primarily composed of these types of investments.
The counselors are actually called employee assistance professionals, and they compare the shock of losing your job or life savings to the initial feeling when discovering you have a terminal disease. They say their work is similar to grief counseling because side effects and emotional stress from these types of events closely resemble the grieving process. Could you imagine if you were someone close to retirement and learning that you've lost everything? It would be terrifying and devastating.