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Mutual Funds and Your Retirement

Pieter Kark and Ken Yap Comments

Jack’s store always did well. There were down times, like during the dot-com bust; but four years out of five, for the 40 years Jack ran the business, it was in the black.

When Jack hit age 65, he wanted to retire. His wife wanted to sell the house and move into a condo closer to the beach and their kids, living down South. The business had made money over the past few years, but barely. Profits had covered the couple’s living expenses but given them only a small savings. A large chain had offered to buy the store 10 years ago when returns were good, but lately interested buyers had dwindled. The few offers coming in only covered a few years’ retirement. It looked like Jack would have to keep operating a couple more years or take a loss (including his condo).

Phil, on the other hand, ran a nursery. His business, like Jack’s, experienced ups and downs and some years of marginal profit. But his profession, being focused as it was on growth, gave him a unique perspective on money—which may have saved his retirement. Just as he grew many varieties of flowers and plants, he believed he should grow his money in diverse ways. During each year the business experienced profit, Phil invested half of it. He didn’t understand the stock market, but a good friend had referred him to a financial advisor. Over the years, he invested in mutual funds.

A Team of Experts

Why mutual funds? Why not a portfolio of stocks and bonds Phil could buy and sell over time? He and his wife, a schoolteacher, were rarely available to make quick decisions regarding the rise and fall of the market, especially during business hours. Instead, the advisor recommended mutual funds, which are managed by groups of experts on a client’s behalf.

This financial team stays on top of the performance of the stock and money markets, as well as the opening and closing of new financial markets around the world. It also keeps track of which companies are doing what, their future plans, and changes in company leadership. Investing in mutual funds puts professionals at your fingertips. The role of the advisor is to inform you which funds have been doing well, when there’s a major change in a fund’s management team, or when a new fund becomes available.

So Phil bought a portfolio of two or three mutual funds and watched his investments grow. Each time his business did well, some money was invested in those funds, all of which behaved slightly different. One gave a slow, safe, but steady income. Another was more variable, but though it fluctuated with the market, its overall value grew nicely.

Phil could have closed his business, even declared it bankrupt, and still retired comfortably. Since he didn’t have to take from the business to cover his immediate living expenses, he was able to allow his nephew to buy into the company. If the business remained profitable, the nephew would eventually buy Phil out.

When it comes to your retirement, don’t be a Jack. Sometimes the business ain’t enough! Mutual funds can allow you to retire the way you want to, with money left over.

Pieter Kark was educated in England and Massachusetts and has worked as a teacher for nearly 40 years. He has written extensively on medical, scientific and ethical matters and currently writes creative nonfiction. Last winter, he closed his neurology practice to move to San Jose, Calif., and collaborate on a book about healthcare with his wife. He is also a licensed Avatar Master ( Mr. Kark can be reached at

Ken Yap is a registered representative at World Group Securities and an associate at World Financial Group. He shows self-storage business owners and professionals how to potentially pay less taxes, plan for retirement with tax-deductible dollars, transfer ownerships, and protect the future of their companies. For more information, call 408.977.3408; e-mail

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