I recently received a long letter from a reader who had inherited a portfolio of shares from her husband who died a couple of years ago. I later spoke to her.

Last summer, when the markets fell sharply, she quite sensibly consulted an investment advisor – not her broker – who looked over the portfolio and gave his opinion about her holdings.

Up to last March, the overall portfolio, mainly invested in a mixture of bluechip Irish and European shares, had made a modest (c) 2.5 per cent gross return. This was roughly the rate she would have earned had the money been in a good bank deposit.

By late August the share values were down at least 10 per cent she said, though the dividends (about €5,000 a year’s worth) were still being paid.

She was now wondering if she should have taken the advisor’s advice when he gave it: “Is it too late to act now?” she wrote.