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Bull Session Staying Conservative in an Era of
'Hyper-Growth' Jobs and Investments

Our "Bull Session" feature is a place for readers like you to share your money experiences. To find out how to contribute, click the "Shoot the Bull" button below.

I'm a 21-year veteran of AT&T;, now working as a general manager in Wisconsin. Unlike many people today, I have a long-term view of my career and investments. I'm not considering jumping jobs to a start-up or throwing my savings at Internet stocks.

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Investor Dan Conrad has stayed away from the Nasdaq and limited his investments to mutual funds and AT&T; stock

I'd invest some money in this market, but I think many who do are just looking for quick cash transactions. I guess I'll be the only guy who's staying conservative on this one.

I have friends who left secure positions with established corporations to sign on with "hyper-growth" companies. The reason always seems to be because they want to be on the ground floor of something new. But I think another reason is related to the stock options these new companies offer.

Nowadays, too many people entering the work force view their job as the job du jour. They may go into a corporation fully anticipating to leave their job after a fixed period of time. It might be positive to have experience with lots of different companies, but will they ever become familiar with any of them? And when they reach my age, what situation will they find themselves in?

The Internet and e-commerce opportunities are clearly significant, but I have some concern that many of these start-up firms are not going to succeed. There will be many losers for every winner, because a marketplace with hundreds of undistinguishable service providers cannot thrive.

It's hard not to be curious about some of these new job opportunities, but AT&T; has articulated a business strategy that makes sense to me. And I truly believe that some of these companies going into the Internet space may be caught by surprise as technology changes.

Shoot the bull
My beliefs about business also reflects my investing style.

As an investor, I've stayed away from the Nasdaq, and limited my investments to mutual funds and AT&T; stock through my 401(k).

I now have 70 percent of my money in stock funds and 30 percent in bonds.

Although I may not be seeing triple-digit annual returns on my investments, I'm satisfied with how they've performed. My annual returns have ranged between 16 percent to 23 percent, which is fine to me.

I'm not out to finance my next BMW. I'm investing because I want to send my kids (ages 9 and 13) to college, and because I'll need a certain amount to retire on.

I think sometimes the financial media doesn't report enough of the bad news. What we tend to hear about are people who made a killing on stocks. The media doesn't talk about the guy who invested $200,000 on a company that fell flat on its face.

Overall, I'm satisfied with my strategy and see no reason to monkey around with it. And the best thing is that I'm not losing sleep.

— Dan Conrad, 46, is a general manager at AT&T; in Wisconsin.

 
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