The future is in your hands

In order to ensure your family's financial health for years to come, learn the basics of investing, apply technology, and engage in cooperative economics.

boomers investing for retirement and Generation X, quickly followed by Generation Y, reaching their peak earning years, the stock market will continue to boom.

African Americans cannot afford to sit on the sidelines as these developments unfold. Since January, be has rolled out the Black Wealth Initiative, covering it on the pages of this magazine and spreading the gospel of financial empowerment on our Website and at conventions, churches, and meetings of fraternities and sororities. The centerpiece is the be Declaration of Financial Empowerment, our 10-point program designed to give you the basics on managing money. Some key tenets: saving and investing 10% to 15% of your after-tax income as an ongoing process; engaging in sound budget, credit, and tax management practices to stay on course; and teaching business and financial principles to your children to give the next generation a head start.

Building wealth is a lifetime process and it begins with the basics. Cogitate on the following: if, on the day of your child’s birth, you invested $1 a day in, say, a blue chip mutual fund that produced a 10% compound annual return, your child would have earned $1.9 million by the age of 65. Imagine the possibilities.

Embrace online investing. Increasingly, the influence of market activity will shift from institutions to individuals. Over the past decade, money inflows from 401(k)s have made a major impact on the financial markets. What will serve as the main driver of market activity in the future? Online investing. In fact, experts believe the so-called “Connected Economy” will make the markets more efficient — there will be a more democratic flow of information, increased liquidity, and continuous adjustment of prices. We have already seen the tip of the iceberg with the Net. It has made transactions more affordable for the average investor. For example, investors have been able to execute trades for as little as $4.96, which would have cost them hundreds with a broker just a few short years ago. “To be a player in the financial markets, even on an individual basis, you are going to have to operate online,” says Michael Manns, senior vice president and senior portfolio manager at American Express. “In the future, it will provide you with both speed and access.”

Focus on technology, healthcare, and globalization. Yes, the tech sector will continue to be volatile, but it will move the economy — as will those companies involved in telecommunications, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and the global marketplace.

Technology will advance at a rapid pace. New drugs will be developed to treat — and possibly cure — diseases such as AIDS, Parkinson’s, and different forms of cancer. And new markets will flourish as evidenced by approval of the China, Caribbean and African trade agreements.

Look for the high-flying upstarts. You remember how investors cashed in on Net companies in the late ’90s? But your core stock portfolio should contain a mix of tried-and-true blue chips like IBM (NYSE: IBM), Micro-soft (Nasdaq: MSFT), Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), and MCI WorldCom (Nasdaq: WCOM) — market leaders with the financial wherewithal

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