Personal Finance: Q & A

Planners Come in All Shapes And Sizes

Gold-fund loss hurts, but holding on and waiting may not restore its luster

Q How can I learn more about financial planners?

- J.G., Sacramento, Calif.

A Several groups, listed below, can help you learn what type of planner may best help with your money matters. Experts agree you should always check out professional credentials and billing. "Fee-only" planners charge straight fees. Others earn commissions from the sale of financial products. Some use both methods. Ask about commissions so you aren't induced to buy an investment that doesn't meet your needs.

Groups to call include the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (888-FEE-ONLY), International Association for Financial Planning (888-806-PLAN), Institute of Certified Financial Planners (800-282-PLAN), American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (800-862-4272). They can answer questions and perhaps refer you to nearby planners.

Q A year ago, my financial planner placed one-third of my investable assets in the Franklin Gold Fund. The other two-thirds is in the Franklin Money Fund, safe, but not only have I missed the great capital gains [of 1997] but I am now down nearly $60,000. I no longer work with this planner. I am hesitant to sell the gold fund at such a loss. What would you do?

- G.F., Portland, Ore.

A "Unless your own personal outlook for financial markets is very bearish, your current asset allocation seems inappropriate," says Tim Schlindwein, a personal-finance expert in Chicago. Most planners limit gold "to no more than 5 or 10 percent of one's investable assets." He suggests moving some money from the gold and the money funds and into bond products that may provide higher returns. Maybe even put part of the money in a conservative stock mutual fund. You might consider splitting your gold-fund sales between the 1997 and 1998 calendar years for tax purposes.

Got a question about finances?

Send it here, to:

Guy Halverson

The Christian Science Monitor

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New York, NY 10110

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