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by Stephen Horwood, B.Math.

Welcome to the newest web site specifically for gay and lesbian folks, straight from our Nation's Capital!  The first thing I'd like to do as a regular columnist for this site is to introduce myself and tell you a bit about my background.  I'm very excited about the opportunity to create awareness of such an important topic, and having started my career in the high tech sector, I truly believe this is one of the best mediums for such a column.  Hopefully you'll enjoy reading about financial issues in this column and come back each week for your weekly dose of financial common sense (or maybe not so common in some cases).  As the audience of this site will be mostly gay men and women, I will aim to include content relating to personal finance and its ramifications on the lives and affairs of gay and lesbian people in the Greater Ottawa Area ... so if you're hoping to read financial information specifically targeting Mom, Dad, 2.5 kids and a picket fence, you might want to 'turn the page.'

>My name is Stephen Horwood and I am a Personal Financial Advisor with Money Concepts. You have likely seen my picture in the local gay print newspaper each month along with Dan Throop, a Money Concepts franchise President. Together we have been providing personal financial advice for our Community for over 6 years - and loving every minute!  I have a bachelor of Mathematics from the University of Waterloo, and since then have taken the Canadian Securities Course (CSC), the Mutual Funds Investment Exam, and Professional Financial Planning I & II, from the Canadian Securities Institute.  I feel my background provides me with appropriate skills to be handling personal finances so that we all can retire with a plan, and hopefully a great plan at that

Speaking of plans, what are you doing for New Year's at the end of this month?  Are you the type of person that will be sitting down with the paper that comes out on December 31st, wondering if you should finally sell (or buy) a certain company's shares, or whether GIC rates will skyrocket in the face of uncertainty after December 31st?  Or perhaps you are the type of person who would like to go out and end the year in style, not worrying about what is happening on the Dow Jones or TSE today and tomorrow?

Well I don't want to sound like MOST of the other articles that you may have read, and tell you not to worry, because it may be that you should worry!  Do you have a plan for your finances, and do you have a professional helping you to develop and implement that plan?  If not, that's where I can help.  Personally, I know little about fixing cars, treating medical ailments, or creating the legal wording of my will - for those services I go to a professional.  Your retirement is perhaps one of the most important 'plans' of your life.  Some people can do it alone, but unfortunately some people only think they can do it alone.  A second opinion may prove invaluable.

Back to the Y2K issue ... people have many theories.  I have heard people say they want to sell everything prior to December 31st and then buy back in January - they want to try and "sell high and buy low."  They have the theory correct, but what if the theory doesn't pan out? Do we really know what's going to happen in a month or two?  The answer is:  "Of course not, we can only speculate."  Can we know what's going to happen in 5 years or 10 years, perhaps not, but we can look back over time and realize that the general trend of financial markets is 'up.'  So here's my theory on the Y2K kerfuffle that we're all caught up in - if you have a financial advisor helping to formulate and follow a reasonable plan for your future, there should be no need to worry about some bumps along the way.  You (and I) should be looking at your long term financial goals, which are most likely to create a comfortable and realistic retirement for you based on your unique characteristics.  Everyone is different (don't we know it!) so each person/family has a different set of circumstances that affect a long term plan.  And the rules keep changing ... for example, the implications of the recent Supreme Court decision in the M & H case are far reaching and affect most of us.

In my future columns I'll talk about the ramifications of the Supreme Court decision, and many other issues that are unique to our community, and how they affect our financial affairs. I appreciate e-mail with your comments, questions, as well as any financial topics you would like to know more about.  Stay tuned for more ... and make those short-term New Year's party plans.  I'll handle the long term financial plan.

Stephen Horwood is a Personal Financial Advisor with Money Concepts.  He may be contacted at  Tel: (888) 615-2130.  Fax: (613) 925-1063