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Eileen Reppenhagen

Age: 54

Occupation: Certified General Accountant, writer, speaker

Portfolio: Guaranteed investment certificates (GICs)

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Investing approach A certified general accountant, Eileen Reppenhagen has a somewhat unusual approach to investing. And that approach doesn't come from a book or a broker, but from her Tsawwassen, B.C.-based accounting practice, which she has run for some 25 years.

Not only does she prepare tax returns for dozens of clients, she keeps many of their portfolio records up to date and entered in Quicken financial software. The result? "I am extremely jaded by the results my clients get from investing," she says. "Following what my clients invest in, nothing seems to pan out. They all seem to end up the same, hanging on to things even though they're plummeting. People just watch investments go down like a deer in the headlights."The $100,000 Wall

Ms. Reppenhagen says she once had lunch with a banker, and mentioned she was leery of the stock market because from her observations, those that didn't have well in excess of $100,000 didn't have a chance of attracting a good money manager. "I see clients who stick their money with people who couldn't care less," she said. And the banker's response? "The banks' top brass are worried that people will figure that out."Not In For the Long Haul

In her view, investing for the long haul doesn't work because most people end up picking the wrong investments, and then compound the mistake by holding on to them as they go down.

"Yes, there will be performance stars that come and go, but 90 per cent of funds are dogs and only held up by a few good blue-chip stocks."

What (The Few) Successful Investors Do "They read voraciously, only invest in individual stocks and investigate the companies they invest in," she says. They also know the companies' products and services, follow and read their financial reports, and follow the day-by-day industry news.

What's She's Doing Now With her GICs set to mature in a few months, Ms. Reppenhagen is considering moving into Triple-A-rated bonds, generally those that mature in about five years with current yields of around 4 per cent. But what of the oft-quoted advice that investors need to do more than match inflation after taxes to be able to retire comfortably?

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"I've chosen to live in such a way that I don't care what's left, and I don't have kids." Her plan is to put any extra money into her home, as she puts a priority on having a nice home to live in. Later on, she'll downsize, and use some of the proceeds from her home to live on.

Best Move Demanding - and getting - top terms and rates on her GICs, meaning she regularly is offered anywhere from 0.5 to 1.0 percentage points above the posted rate. "I developed a relationship with the person who sells GICs at my credit union, plus I tell them I'll move it all to ING if they can't match ING's rates." Worst Move

Back in the 1980s, Ms. Reppenhagen decided to try a bond fund after attending an investment seminar and being told that regular monthly investing and being in it for the long haul was the best approach. She was less than amused by the results. Her principal steadily shrank, due to a combination of high fees and poor fund management.

Advice "Start paying attention to what you have invested and how it is invested. If you don't have any idea of what you're holding or why, find out."

Want to share your strategies?E-mail tony.martin@sympatico.ca

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