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

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What are you recommending, Doug?

Mr. Wheat: I recommend cash or cashlike vehicles as the most rock-solid thing for people to have their money in right now. ShoreBank, you may be familiar with, is a socially responsible bank and they now have a high-yield online savings account, which has a 3.5 percent yield and is comparable to what you can get at any large bank like ING Direct or HSBC. With the difference being that the money that ShoreBank gets goes to affordable housing and other social projects.

Are your clients more worried than usual?

Packer: People are hearing the news about the mortgage meltdown, credit crunch, energy prices. So there's certainly an interest of people saying: How can I preserve part of the principal that I have?

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?

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