Wealth Protection Strategies for the Average Investor

These Are Uncertain Times For investors. As the Greenspan era — a period that included one of the longest economic expansions in history — came to a close, we witnessed successive interest rate hikes, exorbitant oil prices, and the cooling down of the once-torrid housing market. One of the chief concerns among individual investors has been the elimination of pensions and the restructuring of retirement plans. These developments come as the first crop of baby boomers turns 60.

So as Ben Bernanke, the new chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, settles into his post, the investment environment remains disconcerting to many. To help you figure out your next step in preserving and building your wealth, we have assembled a group of top financial professionals for our semiannual investment roundtable. Members include Gail Perry-Mason, first vice president of financial services at Oppenheimer & Co., an investment advisory firm, and co-author of Girl, Make your Money Grow! A Sister’s Guide to Protecting Your Future and Enriching Your Life (Broadway; $19.95); David Hinson, principal of New York-based Wealth Management Network, a consulting practice dedicated to assisting clients in the creation, preservation, and transfer of wealth; Jan J. Williams, an estate planning specialist with AXA Advisors in Atlanta who deals with business owners and professionals; and Dale Bryant, who operates The Bryant Group, an investment firm that caters to small investors.

BLACK ENTERPRISE: What is your market outlook for 2006?

Gail Perry-Mason: In the United States, it’s going to be slow growth. I still think there is growth there. No matter who you are or what you do, there is always some opportunity. You’re going to get opportunity with diversification. Our firm is looking at maybe 8% but more overseas.

David Hinson: I think 2006 is going to be a very good year for investing. I think, though, that we are going to see a lot of volatility in the market. Over the past couple of years, much of the returns have been made in spurts, short periods of time. Last year, we sweated out the market until the fourth quarter, when there was a rally in which most people got 80% to 90% of their total return for the year within a two-month period.

I think we’re going to see an increase this year in market volatility because the issues that we are facing in the U.S. economy and the global economy are fairly traumatic. But I believe that we will see that stocks will outperform bonds in 2006. I believe that active management will outperform passive management. I believe that international equities and emerging markets will outperform U.S. equities.

Jan J. Williams: I am an optimist. For 2006, what the African American community has to do is get smart and outsmart the rest of society and not get caught up in a U.S.-only focus and what U.S. politics say should be done.

The world is a global market now like never before. There is no historical precedent. Never before have we had emerging markets that have stabilized. In previous times,