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Well, at least it's a new way of tackling the country's underinsurance problem. MLC's animated online Life Stages tool shows the events that can occur in six key stages of life - as young independents, professionals, a young family, a mature family, pre-retirees and retirees - along with the questions you should be asking and the available solutions. Check it out at

Young switch on to super

Who says young people aren't interested in their super?

The Australian Taxation Office's recent statistical overview of self-managed super funds found 11 per cent of new members were under 35 in the June 2010 quarter.

OK, that's still not high but the Self-Managed Super Fund Professionals' Association of Australia reckons the GFC experience is prompting younger Australians to make super a higher priority than previous generations.

"Younger Australians are becoming increasingly knowledgeable about, and interested in, the performance, management and control of their superannuation savings," chief executive Andrea Slattery says.

Precious savings

Thinking about gold or other precious metals as a safe haven? There's more to it than just squirreling away a few ingots, according to the latest CMC Markets Precious Metals Pulse.

While precious metals can be a prudent defensive play, CMC chief market analyst Ric Spooner says investors need to understand each metal's cycles and actively manage their exposure to make the most of their investment.

He says low international interest rates, countries such as China buying gold as a way to diversify their exposure to US dollars and the growing wealth of traditional gold-owning nations, such as India and China, all bode well for precious metals this year.

But buying at a reasonable value is critical. An investor who bought gold near the peak of the market in 1980, for example, would still be behind in real terms.

Spooner says Australian investors should also consider the implications of changes in exchange rates and understand that gold prices often move in different directions to silver and platinum. As a general rule, silver and platinum are likely to outperform when the outlook for industrial production and economic growth is improving, while the reverse is true of gold.

ETF action afoot

Get set for a swath of new Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) to hit the market now that the Australian Securities Exchange has changed its rules to allow the listing of fixed-interest ETFs.

With bonds coming back in favour for security-conscious investors, issuers think the time is right to offer retail investors low-cost exposure in this area.

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