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Utopia Fund Manager Follows His Gut

Fund manager Paul Sutherland uses a Zen philosophy on behalf of his investors.

"The key elements of balance and finding your spiritual center are vital to your understanding of money," says Sutherland, author of "Zenvesting" and founder of the Utopia Funds. "Like food, water, warmth and touch, money is part of our lives. View it like energy."

Of course, there are positive and negative energies, just like there are gains and losses on Wall Street.

So far, Sutherland has avoided the bad karma associated with bad investments by carefully managing risk, keeping a close eye on valuation and effectively mixing stocks, options and bonds to smooth out returns. The four Utopia funds he introduced in 2005 -- Growth, Core, Yield Income and Core Conservative -- are beating their Morningstar peers and are doing it with less volatility. They carry an expense ratio of 1.4%.

"We have no market cap, country or valuation constraints when we invest," says Sutherland, whose assets now top $750 million in both separate accounts and mutual funds. "You have to be a global manager now. That means willing to keep an open mind."

His mind may be open to investment ideas, but his portfolio is closed to companies that manufacture products or services that "hurt people" including alcohol, tobacco and pornography.

"I would not call it a 'negative screen', just common sense," says Sutherland. "I have a 17-year-old daughter. I'm not going to buy Playboy (PLA) shares. I wouldn't feel right having it in my house, so I certainly would not want it in my portfolio."
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