, JANUARY 4, 2008  (STAR) By Maria Goretti Jimenez - The end of a year is always a good time for new beginnings. As 2007 draws to a close and the holiday shopping spree comes to a halt, it is only proper to reflect on the state of one’s financial state. Questions like “how can I earn more next year?” and “can I start my dream business this 2008?” will surely linger on everyone’s minds, especially of the most prudent among us.

With the dynamic face of today’s financial service industry, the options of investors and would-be-investors are not only limited to traditional bank products like savings accounts and time deposits. The emergence of Mutual Funds, where the money of several individuals are pooled together and managed by a professional fund manager, has paved the way for alternative means by which to grow one’s hard-earned money.

Expanding business

The mutual fund industry has been growing at an annual growth rate of 47 percent since 2000, when total assets were only around P6 billion and now it has grown to P86 billion. For a risk-laden venture like mutual funds, the rate at which the business has flourished shows how relevant it is with regard to addressing the financial needs of the investing public.

The rapid expansion experienced by the mutual funds business is due to increasing public awareness. In fact, mutual funds are now considered one of the leading alternatives to conservative means of savings, particularly those offered by banking institutions.

Aggressive consumers

But more than an informed public, another reason behind the popularity of Mutual Funds can be found in the attitude of the public regarding investments. Gone are the days when the only consideration was a guaranteed return for a fixed specified period. Combined with forecasts of continued low interest rates in 2008, mutual funds providers are expecting its clients to consider other investment options that could provide better returns in order to beat inflation.

Here’s the simple truth on the present state of investors in the country: they have now become more aggressive in trying other investment options that give higher returns with the minimum risks possible. With investors taking charge of their savings, the incoming year will be a very challenging and fruitful period for investments.

Beginning investment

After giving a brief historical and general perspective of the Mutual Funds business, we need to get to the practical and nitty-gritty side of things. Amidst the promising track record of Mutual Funds over the past years, it is still a venture with considerable risks. There will be periods of volatility and having too much expectation, especially at the start, may not bring your desired result.

And so it is important to choose the asset management company with whom you will entrust your finances. Choose a fund manager with a good track record, preferably one that has continued to improve its industry standing despite competition and various incidences like an economic slump.

Also, read about recent financial service updates. Visit websites in order to have full knowledge of mutual funds both here and abroad. Better yet, call up these companies so they can guide you through the packages available and how it can suit your unique needs as a consumer.

The author is vice president for Mutual Fund Sales at SunLife Asset Management Co. Inc.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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