Getting The Scoop On Investing

Tune in to our panel of financial news commentators as they offer the best strategies for building your portfolio

YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN.

That’s just part of the harsh new realities of investing in today’s environment. Yes, you should consult with financial advisors, but use them as part of your resource network. You can no longer afford to be a passenger, allowing others to steer your investment decisions. You must command the driver’s seat.

Why? Recent events dictate such urgency. By now, you’ve heard the horror stories about legions of employees who had their retirement funds wiped out in the Enron scandal. In recent months, fed up investors have complained to regulators about conflicts of interest inherent in analysts pushing clients’ companies. Others have started hawking shares of companies with head-scratching accounting measures. And examples of individuals who have been bilked in scams — ranging from money managers skimming customer accounts to tax frauds involving slave reparation claims — abound.

Even if you believe you’re working with the best, the brightest, and the honest, take charge of your financial destiny. The best place to start is acquiring knowledge through reliable, unbiased information from trusted sources. To help you get plugged in, we’ve assembled our roundtable of experts that include financial news reporters and money managers who double as television market commentators. They are:

Sharon Epperson, a correspondent for CNBC Business News who has appeared on the network’s popular Business Center program

Karen Gibbs, anchor and senior business correspondent for Your World with Neil Cavuto on the Fox News Channel

Valerie Coleman Morris, a financial anchor for the “Smart Assets” desk for CNNfn (CNN Financial News)

Eric McKissack, vice president and portfolio manager for the Ariel Appreciation Fund, a mid-cap fund, which is one of the top 70 mutual funds (see “Which Way is Up?” in this issue), and a guest on Wall $treet Week

Charles Payne, founder of Wall Street Strategies, a New York investment advisory firm, who appears regularly on CNNfn, ABC News, and Yahoo! FinanceVision Website.

BLACK ENTERPRISE: Last year, we witnessed the tragic events of Sept. 11, an economic downturn, and a market decline for the second consecutive year. What is your outlook for the economy and the market in 2002?

SHARON EPPERSON: When I’m talking to regular folks, [I find that] they are shell-shocked from what has happened over the past two years. But they are still very interested in being a part of the market. They are trying to come up with a plan for college savings, retirement, [and] preserve money they still have in the stock market. There was a time when [investors] were so enthusiastic about the run-up in technology and not really focused on what companies were really about. Now, people are really focused on how [to] make investments grow for the long term.

KAREN GIBBS: I’m very bullish for what is getting ready to happen this year for several reasons. [One of which is] very low interest rates. Right now, it does not pay to put your money into a savings account. [These rates] will force people back into the stock market. Because of the fiscal stimulus coming out of Washington, D.C.,

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