As equities slide, it's time investors looked over their portfolios carefully

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The Independent Online
This week's money pages have, unusually, a single unifying theme to them. In the main, they focus on investment and, in particular, on what investors need to do if the gyrations currently seen in the FTSE 100 share index mark a definite turning point in its 18-month-long upward movement.

Hundreds of thousands of small investors, many of them readers of The Independent, have poured billions into equities in the past year or two, much of that going into funds tracking the performance of the Footsie.

They have been won over by the argument that the long-term performance of equities will always comfortably exceed that of safer alternatives, such as building society accounts. In the very long term, that is historically true.

But there are also moments when investors may be forced to take a cold bath. In such cases, many fund managers will shrug their shoulders, pointing out that in this market you have to be prepared to accept some pain for the sake of long-term gain.

True, but only up to a point. These pages have argued that if you have suffered consistent underperformance, you should be prepared to switch to a better fund manager.

We still hold that view. The experience of the past few weeks indicates that, if anything, the need to look carefully at your investments is even greater today.

We don't pretend to have all the answers. But if we succeed at least in encouraging you to look at your portfolio with a fresh eye, we may have achieved something.

Next week, we hope to suggest some definite investment alternatives for you to consider. And no, Schrodinger, our feline fund manager, is not for hire.

WE HAVE received scores of requests to take part in our free financial makeover series. But it is still not too late to take part. If you want free financial advice, potentially worth hundreds of pounds, and don't mind your case appearing in these pages, write to Nic Cicutti, Free Financial Makeover, The Independent, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. Please give a brief outline of your financial circumstances.

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