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By Frances McGuckin

The retirement savings frenzy never stops, with taxpayers keen to reduce their tax and save for retirement. It's a complex affair with no one having the magical answers to the many questions. Perhaps two areas to review are the past performance of your mutual funds and your will.

The mutual fund market is growing and diversifying every day, with many funds realizing healthy gains over the last two years. Portfolios developed in the early to mid 1990s may not be performing as well as they were then. If you are considering long-term results, ensure that either you or your financial consultant thoroughly review your whole portfolio for performance.

In many cases, you will discover that funds need moving to more productive investments. If you are a baby boomer needing to invest aggressively to catch up a little, don't leave it too long. One non-traditional and aggressive approach is suggested by Russell Smart of Performa Financial Group Ltd.

"The key for investors in the next ten years will be to increase their equities, diversifying by country and sector, for example, technology, health care, financial and resource sectors," says Smart. "With the foreign content increased and by increasing their equity exposure, as opposed to whether you should be in bonds, equities and cash, will depend on whether you are looking at long-term investments over seven years. Even people in their 50 and 60s should be looking at this investment option

The more traditional diversification is usually made in bonds & cash, so if you choose this investment strategy, be sure that the results are being monitored closely by either yourself or your financial consultant."

Rather than joint the RRSP rush, take advantage of dollar cost averaging by purchasing a monthly RRSP, which takes advantage of buying at a lower price when the market drops. Even if purchases are made during a market increase, at least that portion of your income is designated for retirement savings. Many people don't have the ability to save unless they are committed to a monthly payment.

While you are busy reviewing your finances, find some time to review your will, or make one if you don't have one. A will made five or ten years ago needs careful reviewing, as family situations can change year-by-year. You may not be speaking to the person you left an inheritance to ten years ago, or may not want them to be the guardian of your children. Make some time to protect both your future and your estate.

This weekly 'Business Concerns' column is available for Syndication. Please phone or e-mail inquires to 

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Frances McGuckin
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