JAN 27 2015


In an up-and-down industry like oil and gas, it’s important to make sure you’re ready in case your job is one of many being cut.

In the wake of job cuts from Schlumberger Ltd.(NYSE: SLB), and pay freezes from BP PLC(NYSE: BP), rumors around your office may be circulating on possible cuts in your company.

To be prepared, take a second to look at your stock portfolio and benefit plans, said Peter Ip, senior vice president and relationship manager for Houston-based wealth management firm Kanaly Trust.

“It’s easier to plan for retirement, because you have a specific date,” Ip told the Houston Business Journal. “But it’s challenging to plan for an unlikely event like a layoff, disability or death.”

Make sure you’re familiar with your different policies — the first being your health insurance, he said. It’s important to know if it’s a better option to sign up for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA, insurance through your previous employer or if a spouse’s insurance will suffice. This impacts the entire family and should be one of the top priorities.

Aside from that, corporate life insurance policies might not fully protect you or your family if a tragedy does occur, so it’s important to have at least a small personal policy available, as well.

“I always tell people not to depend on a corporate-sponsored life insurance policy, because in the event of a layoff, that insurance will be gone,” said Ip.

Other important things to look at are your 401(k) and benefit packages, to see how your employer handles job cuts. Some might withdraw their contributions to a 401(k), depending on the vesting requirements that have been set up.

Finally, watch your stock portfolio, especially if you’ve been taking advantage of the discounted buying program. It’s important to diversify your portfolio to reduce taking a heavy hit if you’re too heavily invested in your own company, Ip said, as well as in the energy industry as a whole.

“If you have too much of one investment vehicle, it’s not going to be pretty when you need it,” said Ip. “You want to make sure you’re not just diversifying within the industry. You want something not just within the energy industry, but within other industries, too.”

Welcome to COBRA Insurance