Wednesday, May 8, 2002

 

by Al Thomas

The Surgeon General

by Al Thomas

The Surgeon General of the United States says that smoking cigarettes is harmful to your health. It is printed on every pack of smokes you buy. When was the last time a smoker read or paid any attention to it?
Don't you wish your brokerage account had some kind of warning telling you when to sell out of a stock or mutual fund that is going down? How about "If this stock falls more than 12% below its highest closing price the Money General says it should be sold and the money reinvested in a different equity"? Think of what that would have done for your financial health during the past 2 years. Most people would be feeling a lot better.
Your broker is supposed to be a doctor of finance and should be concerned about your financial well being. When you ask him why your portfolio has gone down you probably will get one of two answers ­ "Don't worry, the market always comes back" ­ except when it doesn't. And "Buy and hold is the best strategy when you are in for the long haul". That long haul may be 20 years to break "even". Of course, that does not make you feel any better when you see your money disappearing. It all comes down to the fact he does not know how to do this and has not been trained by the brokerage company. The same goes for most financial planners.
Financial planners will tell you how to split up your investment among stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate and so forth, but they have no idea when to sell out of a losing position. Neither brokers, bankers nor financial planners have ever heard that cash is a position. Yes, cash in a money market account will not make big returns, but it will protect your money while the stock market is in a general slide down. Think about this: what if your money had been in a simple 3% money market account for the past 2 years. Would you have more money today? Probably.
It is very difficult to find a broker who has any training in protecting your assets. If you ask to see the training manuals for brokers you will find two. One concentrates on learning all the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission so they will not be sued and the other is a Sales Manual on how to open new accounts and get investors to put in more money. No instruction on how to protect the investors money when a stock or fund starts down. The one thing they are never taught is when to sell.
If you expect to have financial health you must learn how to wisely invest your money. There is no Money General or Easter bunny. You cannot rely on any "expert". Just as you are responsible for the health of your body by what you put into it so your financial health is up to you by making sure you do not lose what you are putting away for your retirement.
Copyright Albert W. Thomas All rights reserved. Author of "If It Doesn't Go Up, Don't Buy It!" www.mutualfundmagic.com comments to al@mutualfundmagic.com 1-888-345-7870




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