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How to build a rock-solid ethical portfolio in uncertain times

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Wheat: Like Eric's, clients are hesitant to open up their statements. They don't want to know what is happening and, in a sense, have a blinder on to the market. In part, that's good.... Not opening your statements prevents the knee-jerk reaction that maybe some people might have. But in general, I tell all my clients that it is important to maintain a good asset allocation, both today when the times aren't as good as well as when the markets are doing really well – and that we need to try and keep their costs low and we need to rebalance their portfolio on a regular basis to make sure that we're buying low and selling high instead of selling when things are down.

In uncertain times, do less of your assets go to stocks?

Packer: Absolutely. And as you know, the other things that we take a look at [are]: The age of the person, the years toward retirement, and also the personal comfort level with risk.... So it's really a balancing act, we find.

Are there other conservative strategies that investors with this social perspective should think about?

Wheat: Government bonds are sometimes one of the best things for people to do in conservative times. Often socially responsible investors tend to overlook government bonds as an investment vehicle. But most of the clients I deal with are very comfortable investing in Treasury securities and certainly in municipal bonds as well. Particularly for clients who have higher income levels, municipal bonds – municipal bond funds – depending on what state they're in, are really effective devices. From the mutual-fund perspective, a number of funds across the asset classes that still are doing very well I like to recommend. Parnassas Equity Income Fund is one of them. And TIAA-CREF Social Choice Fund is another one I recommend people have to get the broad-based equity exposure for growth long-term.

The equity-income fund would be fairly conservative, but Social Choice?

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