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Q: I'm interested in a mutual fund that is balanced and diversified and has a high rating from Morningstar.
-From Roy on AOL.

A: Your best source for finding such a fund would be Morningstar. And, since you're already an on-line person, visit them at www.morningstar.com.

Two helpful spots on that home page include Fund Selector, it's located in the upper left hand column on the page, and, the Fund Lists. To find Fund Lists scroll down a tad and it will be on the right side of the page directly under Stock Lists.

By using the Fund Selector, you'll be able to screen funds based on a host of data including, type of fund, managers tenure, whether the fund is a load or no-load, the amount of risk you'd like to take as well as its star fund rating.

Morningstar will be the first to advise you not to select a fund just because of its star ratings. That means, just because a fund has a 5-star rating doesn't necessarily mean it's right for you. Other important factors to look include whether the fund invests in the kinds of securities you're willing to take a long-term ---as in at least five years---bet on; check out how it has performed in the past under the same manager and against other like funds; if its risk parameters are in line with yours; and, whether its minimum initial investment costs are something you can handle, as well as its annual fees and expenses.

Q: My husband has a certificate for a fund purchased in 1965. I tried looking it up but can't seem to find any information about it. Could it be a part of another fund and how would I find that out?
-Lin on AOL.

A: Oh my, researching old funds isn't always quick and easy. But, the best place to start is by trying to find out-- or remember---the name of the broker and brokerage firm the investment was initially purchased through and name of the original fund family. And the fund's cusip number.

Mutual funds all have individual cusip numbers. Locate that number --it's likely to be on your monthly statement or confirmation slip---and researching the fund will be all the easier.

Also, you might try visiting the Investment Company Institute's web site at www.ici.org. They have a listing of all open and closed end mutual funds and unit investment trusts with address information.

If you don't find anything helpful there, you can contact the Securities and Exchange Commission Office of Investor Education and Assistance. Their telephone number is 202-942-7040. Or better yet, e-mail them with your request at help@sec.gov .

Since the fund industry is a rapidly changing one with dozens of new funds coming out annually and dozens of funds either merging, closing or changing their names each year, it's really important to keep good records about your fund investment. So, why not keep a separate folder on each mutual fund you own with a couple of files in it. Use one for keeping fund statements in and the other for tossing literature about the fund and fund family. That way you'll be able to keep tabs on any name changes the fund may have.

Good luck!

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