Touch all bases. Dot all i's and cross all t's.
Careful investment strategy dictates following this relentless directive of the nation's financial planners: Diversify. Makes sense, since various investments perform differently at different times.Over the years, however, I've been at odds with some financial planners because their idea of diversity consisted of recommending only investments for which they received the greatest fees. If they sold mostly insurance, they offered some mild diversity from among the choices of their primary carrier. Or they locked comfortably into one mutual fund company without comparing returns of others. Even fee-only planners, who didn't sell any products, sometimes seemed lazy about the selection process.
In 1990, diversity is taken more seriously. The 1987 stock market crash, the twists of the bond markets and general economic volatility have made it mandatory for advisers to do their homework. A client burned is a former client.
With recession looming, most planners recommend keeping three to six months of expenses available - just in case. They suggest that as much as 20 percent of a portfolio be kept in money-market mutual funds or short-term bank certificates of deposit. Regular monthly investing should be continued despite the twists of the markets, they believe. Put in set amounts so you won't be hit by a sudden market fluctuation in any one month. Build a diversified portfolio. Consider tax-exempt vehicles if you're in a higher bracket. Some growth through stocks or stock funds should also be considered, depending on your comfort level.
Here, free of charge from certified financial planners, are recommendations:
Marilyn Capelli, Citizens Bank, Flint, Mich. "I like Vanguard Group for money-market funds, comprising 20 percent of a portfolio. Another 30 percent to 40 percent should be fixed-income, either Treasury securities or funds such as Fidelity Government Securities Fund. Thirty percent to 40 percent of the portfolio could be stocks."
Louis Stanaslovich, certified financial planner with Allegheny Financial Group Ltd., Pittsburgh. "Stay away from limited partnerships or individual stocks, since you won't get enough diversification. Put 30 percent in short-term CDs, Cash Equivalent Fund Government Securities Portfolio and Neuberger/Berman Limited Maturity Bond Fund. Another 10 percent should be in Vanguard Municipal Bond Fund Intermediate-Term Portfolio. Ten percent would be international bonds, such as Massachusetts Financial International Trust Bond Portfolio. The other 50 percent would be equities, such as Pennsylvania Mutual Fund and Templeton Foreign Fund."
Amy Leavitt, certified financial planner with Leavitt Associates, Quechee, Vt. "Keep a long-term focus. I recommend Kemper Government Securities Money Market Fund for 20 percent of portfolio. Another 30 percent would be in Fidelity Plymouth High Income Municipal Fund. The remaining 50 percent would be in stock funds such as American Balanced Fund, Investment Company of America and Oppenheimer Global Fund."
Dale Bradley, certified financial planner with Interwest Financial Advisors Inc. in Portland, Ore. "It will take another quarter to know if we're in a recession or bear market. I'd put 25 percent in a single-premium tax-deferred annuity, such as Federal Home Life's Single Premium Deferred Annuity II. The remaining 75 percent should go into mutual funds. The money market would be Cash Management Trust of America. Other funds would be Washington Mutual Investors Fund and American U.S. Government Guaranteed Securities Fund. For aggressive growth, I like AIM Weingarten Fund or AIM Constellation Fund."
Steven Carter, certified financial planner with CIGNA Individual Financial Services Inc., San Diego. "For safety of principal, I'd put money into a single-premium deferred annuity from Metropolitan Life. For bond and stock income, I like the American family of funds. I suggest Growth Fund of America, which has averaged an 18 percent yield over the past 10 years. I also recommend all-cash real estate partnerships or government income partnerships offered by Krupp."