Money: The Life Cycle

As people age, they should move their portfolios from riskier investments like stocks to more conservative options like bonds and cash. Yet often they don't. Enter life-cycle funds. Investors pick a fund based on the year they plan to retire and let a professional manager do the rest, gradually swapping investments as the years go by. Michael Porter, senior research analyst at investment tracker Lipper Inc., calls it "fast-food investing."

And investors are eating it up. Assets in life-cycle funds--also called target-date or target-maturity funds--jumped more than 65% last year, to $44 billion, with people buying them mostly in retirement plans...

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