Suppose the portfolio manager of a fund you own quits.

Suppose his/her replacement is an untested MBA hotshot. Wouldn't you want to know about that? Of course. That is one of the reasons why you read my column.Here is some investment and mutual fund news that may either make you money or save you money.

- JACK WHITE ADDS STRONG FUNDS TO ITS NO-TRANSACTION-FEE PROGRAM. By now, you must know about the centralized mutual fund management programs offered by Charles Schwab, Fidelity Investments, Jack White & Co. and other discount brokers.

These centralized fund accounts are absolutely the best way for no-load mutual fund buyers to buy/sell no-load funds. All your fund transactions are consolidated into one central account. One monthly statement, one annual 1099 statement and one phone number to deal with no matter how many fund families you invest in.

While Schwab and Fidelity are household names, Jack White (800-233-3411) is making quite a name for himself in the mutual fund business. He currently offers the widest range of no-load funds (282 at last count) on a no-transaction-fee basis.

His most recent addition (and a high-quality one, I might add) is the Strong family of funds.

If you haven't opened a centralized mutual fund management account yet, you're working harder than you have to.

- SCUDDER WAIVES IRA CUSTODIAL FEES. Effective immediately, Scudder is joining the growing (but small) list of mutual fund families that are waiving the annual IRA custodial fees.

I have seen IRA custodial fees as high as $100 a year, but they're customarily in the $20 to $40 range. Regardless, Scudder is now offering free IRA accounts.

Scudder is well regarded for its innovations to the mutual fund industry. The very first no-load fund in America was a Scudder fund in 1920, and Scudder had the first no-load international fund in 1953.

Also, Scudder is offering a free easy-to-understand IRA guide. It's basic information but useful to novices. Call 800-225-2470 for information on both services.

- STEINROE AND BLANCHARD WANT YOUR IRA MONEY, TOO. Chicago-based SteinRoe funds are also waiving annual IRA custodial fees for IRAs with balances higher than $5,000.

The $75 one-time account opening fee for the Blanchard Flexible Income Fund (which I highly endorse) is being waived until April 15 for IRA accounts.

- TWO GREAT BOOKS WORTH READING. There is never a shortage of investment books being brought to the market (watch for mine, "Mutual Fund Superstars," in February). Two new books, however, are unusual in that they are written by two of the most legendary and innovative founders in the mutual fundbusiness.

James Stowers, founder of the 20th Century family of funds, has a new book called "Yes, You Can . . . Achieve Financial Independence" ($29.95, Deer Publishing).

While fairly basic in nature, I would classify this book as mandatory reading for every person graduating from high school. Motivational, informative and valuable, Stowers leads readers through the process of finding money, saving money and investing money. Do your kids a favor and get them this book.

It is available in most bookstores, but 20th Century shareholders can get an extra $5 discount by calling 800-345-2021.

John Bogle, chairman and founder of the Vanguard funds, has written what will likely become a classic, "Bogle on Mutual Funds," ($7, Irwin Professional Publishing).

"Don't buy another (mutual) fund until you read this book," says Don Phillips, publisher of Morningstar.

Other than placing too much emphasis on fund expenses, Bogle adroitly leads you through asset allocation, risk/reward trade-offs, fund selection and portfolio design. A great book!

- A NEW HARBOR INTERNATIONAL GROWTH. One of my all-time favorite international stock funds, Harbor International, has closed to new investors. I hate it when good funds do that.

However, the Harbor group is loathe (as all other funds) to turn away your business. Therefore, its newest offering, Harbor International Growth, is now open for business.

This is no clone, though. It is run by a different portfolio manager - not by whiz Hauken Castegren, and it's worth monitoring. Call 800-422-1050 for more information.

- FOUNDERS GOES INTERNATIONAL. International investing is so hot this year (and I expect it to continue) that Founders funds has two new international offerings.

Founders Passport will invest in small companies in both emerging and developed international markets. Managed by Michael Gerding, you can expect this fund to be more aggressive than Founders Worldwide.

Founders Opportunity Bond seeks high current income, but it will do so by scouring the globe using a flexible approach. It will limit its foreign exposure to 30 percent of the portfolio and also will invest no more than 35 percent of the assets in junk bonds.

Flexible bond funds, like Founders Opportunity Bond, are a new breed of bond funds designed to be an all-weather alternative for income investors. I like flexible income funds a lot. Call 800-525-2440 for details.

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- JANUS VENTURE HAS NEW SKIPPER. James Craig, one of the finest money managers in the business, has turned over the reigns of the Janus Venture fund to Jim Goff and Warren Lambert. Both were formerly analysts of the fund.

These two aren't exactly novices. Goff also runs Janus Enterprise while Lambert manages Janus Mercury and Janus Balanced. However, Craig will now take over Janus Balanced and continue to manage the flagship Janus Fund.

Confused? James Craig just wants to concentrate on large blue-chip stocks. Enterprise, Mercury and Venture all focus more on small cap stocks.

Should you be concerned? No, this is just a little musical chairs among a competent trio.

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