December 28, 2006

Playing Follow the Leader

New subscriber service offers one investor's actions as a roadmap

There is no dearth of information on the wide array of investment vehicles and asset classes in today's retirement finance world, but sifting through everything and making sense of it all is no easy task. Often the simplest information is the most effective, says John Samore, founder of GrowYourRetirement.com, a subscription-based Web site and e-mail service that provides information based upon Samore's own investment experience to people interested in investing a portion of their retirement savings in the stock market. Tired of what he calls the "pump and dump" process of sorting through piles of company information and analysis to get a handle on the stock market, Samore decided some years ago to keep it "clear and simple." After enjoying some investing success, he decided to share information with anyone interested in taking a tip or two, and in October 2004, began sending out by e-mail to friends and family members details of the trades he had made. Since then, word has spread, and now, spurred on by a smartly redesigned Website, Samore says his customer base is growing quite fast.

Although he is not an investment advisor, financial planner, or affiliated with a broker/dealer, Samore works full time in a financial firm and runs the service on the side. He's hoping to grow his subscriber base in the coming years to a level where he can dedicate himself to GrowYourRetirement.com on a full-time basis.

"I have been working for 12 years, so like many others, I have established Roth IRAs and rolled over 401(k)s when I have changed jobs," he says. "There are so many information sources out there for the stock market, but the more I personally trade, the smarter I get. And I think people appreciate my e-mails because they are based upon my personal experience."

Indeed, a personal approach to the stock market can make it seem far less daunting, Samore says, and human nature is such that people want to learn from what others have done and take advantage of their experience. And of course, simplicity --which is one of Samore's main goals--is paramount.

"I have a good foundation to invest but I want to grow my retirement portfolio in a profitable yet conservative manner, and minimize losses the best that I can," he says.

In attempting to keep losses to the lowest levels, Samore has set certain parameters for his investments. For one, he limits his investment universe to three market indexes, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the S&P Mid-Cap 400. Like most investors he aims to "buy low, sell high," and within those three indexes, invests only in stocks that pay dividends.

Then, he shares via e-mail what he bought, at what price, on which date and at what time.

"I'm not buying hundreds of thousands of shares, I am growing at my own pace," he says. "I take a bit of profit, I leave a little cash in and when the stock hits my target, I will send my subscribers an alert that tells them what I sold, the number of shares, and when, as well as an individual profit calculation that I made for the stock."

According to Samore, for the first nine months of 2006, GrowYourRetirement.com produced returns of 11.57%, exceeding all three of its benchmarks. At the same time, though, he is the first to caution people against coveting super-size returns, particularly when looking at the stock market as a place to make money for retirement. "Be smart, not greedy," is his motto.

For those who are looking to maximize growth and returns for the future with no immediate income tax implications, but have limited time to research every equity security available for investment, GrowYourRetirement.com can be another source of information and service. Clients manage their own accounts with a discount broker, and young professionals who are shifting jobs every couple of years, have built their base 401(k) and perhaps have rolled over funds into an IRA can benefit the most, Samore says, as the e-mail alerts don't require them to take time out of their busy work schedules to pore over chunky equity research reports.

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