Dear Harry:

I have finally realized that I'm not able to get any decent return from my investments, so I'm considering going to an investment adviser.

I've investigated performance, fees, integrity (especially in their promotional literature), and just plain social skills. I want to deal with someone I can get along with. I'm finding that I have trouble with the statement that "I don't make money unless you do."

The reason is that many of them get their fees based on the total assets they manage. Sure, if there's a gain on the portfolio the fee base goes up, but the fees get paid even if there's a loss.

Are there some financial guys who are really straight and charge based on what is actually earned?

What Harry says: Sure there are. But you may have some trouble finding them. Many mutual fund managers are paid based on the total value of the fund assets, but their performance figures are easily verifiable. This is a contrast to what you're looking for. There are many investors who would rather go for mutual funds than a private counselor. One of the major reasons is that there are many sources for advice. They range from Money magazine and Smart Money to newsletters with years of successful choices behind them. You might consider going for some of your money with a financial adviser and some in mutual funds. I know several people who have done well with that approach. Unfortunately, the results don't favor one system over the other.

Write Harry Gross c/o the Daily News, 400 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19130. Harry urges all his readers to give blood - contact the American Red Cross at 800-Red Cross.