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Getting ready for retirement.

Whether you are in the spring or winter of life, you need a retirement plan. Here are some investment tips on shoring up for those golden years.

ED TAYLOR IS TYPICAL OF MOST baby boomers. The 43-year-old stock broker with Spencer Trask in New York has been saving and investing his money for the last 10 years and is now starting to plan for retirement.

"I am worried now that I won't have enough money when I'm ready to retire," he says. "If I could do it all over again, I would have started investing right after college."

Taylor has all the middle-class trappings of success. The divorce earns more than six figures, lives in a loft apartment in the heart of New York City and drives a 1996 Volvo 850. His spare-time hobbies include attending opera performances and playing golf and tennis. But Taylor realizes that financial security is the true measure of success and that poor retirement planning could set back his standard of living for the rest of his life.

To ready himself for retirement, Taylor has been investing in stocks. His portfolio includes aggressive growth stocks like Across Data Systems, a software company; Anicom, a fiber optics company; and CNXS, which manufactures athletic nosetape. He wouldn't disclose how much his portfolio is worth except to say, "It's in the six figures." He is also looking to buy some real estate.

Although a third of Americans believe they will maintain or improve their standard of living in retirement, regrettably most people won't have sufficient retirement funds. According to a survey by Hartford Conn.-based Phoenix Home Life, an insurance company, and Yankelovich Partners, a market research firm, most Americans plan to live 22 years in retirement with an anticipated yearly income of $44,000. "This translates conservatively to a next egg to $700,000," says Robert W. Fiondella, chairman, president and CEO of Phoenix Home Life in Hartford, Conn. "But when you project the value of their assets, most people say they would be worth about $520,000 a retirement, falling short of that $700,000 mark." That gap is probably even wider, given that the average person figures in assets that don't produce interest income for day-to-day living, such as a car.

The study, which surveyed heads of household between the ages of 30 and 59 earning at least $40,000, shows that most folks are not saving enough to meet their retirement goals. More than a third of those surveyed worry about financial security in retirement and outliving their retirement money. And rightly so, says Fiondella. "When you consider that Americans dream of an enjoyable, fulfilling retirement that includes travel, hobbies and freedom from obligations, I fear dreams will turn to disillusionment."

On top of that, the state of corporate America has more and more people fretting about job security, the ability to save, and the cost of funding a college education for their children and taking care of an aging parent or in-law. Planning and preparing for retirement can be a difficult task, says Alice Ericson, spokesperson for Phoenix Home Life. "But everybody needs to be looking ahead no matter how old they are. The earlier you start saving, the more you'll have when you retire," she says.

Still, whether you're 25 or 45 or you can create a feasible savings plan, one that will ensure that life in retirement is indeed golden and not blue. Even when people save for retirement, they are often unsure about how to invest for the future. Don't even think that Social Security will tide you over because the Social Security Administration expects to have an annual deficit starting in the year 2013. So, you can expect to get fewer benefits when you retire, especially if you're now under 50, says Ted Benna, author of Escaping the Coming Retirement Crisis and president of the 401(k) Association in Langhorne, Pa. "The responsibility for planning for retirement has shifted from the company to the individual," he says. "Individuals are going to have to do more savings on their own."

Many folks are relying on their company pensions or savings plans as the main source of their retirement income. But according to a 1993 study conducted by the Employee Benefits Research Institute in Washington, while roughly 57% of all civilian employees work for a company that sponsors some type of retirement, only 44% of workers actually participate in those plans.

"It shows that there are still large portions of workers that aren't participating in employee retirement plans," says Carolyn Pemberton, spokesperson with the institute. "The employer community is working hard to educate their employees to save and plan for their own retirement because it's an important issue, and more and more employers are saying they are not going to do it for you."

Gone are the days of gold watches and hefty pensions. Fewere companies offer traditional, defined benefits plans funded entirely by the company. Now firms are pushing defined contribution plans, namely a 401(k), which is funded solely or in part by the employee.

Jon Fossel, chairman of the Washington-based Investment Company Institute, says that two-thirds of Americans will have to reduce their standard of living significantly when they retire. Ideally, you need 70% to 80% of your final working income to maintain a similar lifestyle in retirement. The way to make up for that is to build a private investment portfolio.

"The returns for those who choose private investments [for retirement] will be higher than the returns from Social Security," Fossel says. In 1995, the average annual Social Security benefit was less than $10,000. However, if you were to start putting away $50 a month starting at age 30, you would have nearly $95,000 in cold hard cash (assuming a 12% return on your investment).

Nix certificates of deposit, money market accounts and other bank savings. These investments offers the lowest rates of return and very little opportunity for price appreciation. Investing in stocks and mutual funds is perhaps the best way save money for retirement.

Age is a factor. Cheryl Broussard, a principal of Broussard & Douglass Investment Management Corp. in Palo Alto, Calif., says, "Someone who's young can take on more risk and put the bulk of their money in something that's aggressive growth," she says. "Someone close to retirement needs to be more conservative. However, even if you're 90, you still want some of your money in aggressive growth--with a fixed income you have loss of purchasing power, and you want to keep up with inflation."

With that in mind, BLACK ENTERPRISE has come up with a range of money market investments that each age group may want to consider. Since there are more than 5,800 mutual funds to choose from, we've asked various finance professionals to recommend their top pick in each of five mutual fund categories: aggressive growth, growth, balanced, international and income.

AGGRESSIVE MONTH

Broussard, author of the Black Woman's Guide to Financial Indepen-dence, recommends 20th Century Ultra (800-345-2021), a no-load fund that invests in fast-growing medium-size and larger companies. Year-to-date the fund has showed cumulative gains of 43%, according to Lipper Analytical Services, a New York-based company that tracks the performance of mutual funds.

The $16 billion fund's weighting is about 55% technology stocks and 10% pharmaceuticals. The fund's largest holdings are technology companies. They include Cisco Systems, 3Com and Bay Networks. Last year, the fund was up 37.68%. Other holdings include Oracle Systems, Intel, Pfizer, Amgen and Microsoft.

Fund manager Chris Boyd says the fund invests in companies that have strong earnings growth. "It's a fantastic fund to earn retirement money," he says. "A shareholder can always count on us to invest the money the way we say we will. We position ourselves in the strongest earnings companies."

GROWTH

Dywane Hall, a registered financial consultant with LPL Financial Services in Falls Church, VA., recommends Mairs & Power Growth (612-222-8478). The $82 million fund ranked No. 5 among growth funds on BE's top-performing mutual fund list in April. It showed year-to-date gains of 43%, according to Lipper.

The fund's larger holdings include Medtronic, a medical device company, with 8.2%, and BMC, producers of aperture masks for the television industry, with 7.2%. Both of the stocks were up more than 100% last year. Other stocks include Pfizer, 3M, General Mills and Norwest Corp.

Fund manager George Mairs III says the fund is appropriate for retirement funds because its objective is long-term growth. "Many of our holdings we have had for 10 years or longer. We tend to hold shares for long periods of time," he says. "We're not momentum players; we tend to buy stocks on a dip rather than on strengths.

About 80% of the companies in the portfolio are headquartered in the Midwest. Mairs attributes the fund's stellar performance in 1995 to the large number of health care stocks. For example, Johnson & Johnson was up 56%, while Pfizer and St. Jude Medical were up 63% and 62%, respectively.

BALANCED

Sheldon Jacobs, publisher of the No-Load Fund Investor newsletter in Irvington, N.Y., recommends the Invesco Balanced Fund (800-525-8085) for retirees. A balanced fund, by prospectus, can't be more than 70% invested in equities, and the remaining portion must be in either cash or investment-grade bonds. These funds generally offer safety of principal, regular income and modest growth.

Before looking into mutual funds, consider how much you have to invest and your risk tolerance level, Jacobs advises. "If you buy a mutual fund, you have two advantages: diversification and professional management, which are vital in the investing game," he says.

Invesco Balanced was the No. 1 balanced fund in BE's top-performing mutual fund list in April. It had year-to-date gains of 35%, according to Lipper. Brian Kelly manages the $94 million fund, which includes agro-chemicals and agricultural companies. "I look for earnings growth, revenue growth and for a stock that is reasonably valued based on historical criteria," Kelly says.

The fund has 54% invested in equities with 39 stocks. Its largest holding of nearly 4% is GCR Holdings Ltd., an insurance company. Some other stocks in the fund are Agrium, Potlach Corp., Granda Group, Arco Chemical and Panaco. The fund's minimum initial investment is $1,000, but a $50 automated monthly payment plan is available.

INTERNATIONAL

Kurt Brouwer, author of Kurt Brouwer's Guide to Mutual Funds and president of San Francisco-based Brouwer & Janachowski, says you can expect to live a long time after you retire. "The reality is that you will probably live until you're 85," he says, adding that you don't have to be conservative just because you're investing for retirement. "You need growth in your portfolio to help keep up with inflation."

Brouwer recommends Warburg Pincus International Equity Fund (800-257-5614) for the international fund category, calling it diversified. Year-to-date the fund is up 26%, according to Lipper.

The $2.8 billion fund's largest holdings include Banco Santander, a Spanish bank, and Nippon Telephone and Telegraph, a Japanese telephone company. Other picks include Rolls Royce, a British aerospace and auto company, DBS Land, a property developer in Singapore, and Woodside Petroleum, an Australian natural gas company. The majority of the fund is invested in East Asia and Europe.

One advantage of investing in an international fund, says fund co-manager Nicholas Horsley, is that it stabilizes the value of your investment portfolio. "If you pick good stocks, you should outperform the markets in which you are invested. Our European stocks did quite well, and our strategy in 1996 is the same as 1995," he says. "We see slightly less potential in Europe, and more in Asia. We're particularly interested in Japan and Hong Kong."

INCOME

If you're near retirement age and looking to complete your portfolio with an income fund, consider T. Rowe Price's Equity Income Fund (800-638-5660), says Jacquette M. Timmons, president and CEO of Sterling Investment Management Inc. in New York. She likes the fund because it's had the same fund manager since 1985 and because of its investment style.

Fund manager Brian Rogers says the $6 billion fund invests in large-cap, blue-chip stocks with higher than average dividend yields. Its top holdings include Smith Kline Beecham, Atlantic Richfield, Exxon and Phillip Morris. Other holdings include Mellon Bank, GTE, Eli Lilly, Honeywell and Anheuser-Busch. In 1995 the fund was up 33%.

"The income yield of the fund is 3.2%, and the current dividend yield of the market is 2.3%," says Rogers. "This fund is ideal if you want more growth, but are still interested in income and don't want to be in a money market fund."

The goal of retirement planning is to help you keep what you earn. It doesn't matter as much where you decide to put your money, financial experts agree, as long as you act now. The more money you squirrel away, the better your chances of avoiding a bare-bones retirement.
COPYRIGHT 1996 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Investments; financial planning
Author:Fairley, Juliette
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Jun 1, 1996
Words:2153
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