The Editor's Desk

You may think you know Jane Bryant Quinn. If you're a longtime subscriber to NEWSWEEK, you've followed her wise financial advice for 25 years. You've read her syndicated columns and seen her ageless picture (she really is that ageless) in papers across the country. You've watched her on TV, from her appearances on morning shows to the days when she was a contributor to the "CBS Evening News." And if you follow business journalism, you know about her many awards: the two John Hancocks, the Gerald Loeb Lifetime Achievement Award--not to mention World Almanac's naming her one of America's 25 most influential women.

But there are some things about Jane you may not know. She has a wild streak: as she revealed recently in Tip Sheet, she drives a bright red Mercedes convertible. She can be sentimental: every Christmas she and her husband, David, invite friends over to do a reading of Dickens's "A Christmas Carol," complete with costumes and spooky lighting. And for someone who doles out dispassionate financial tips, she is deeply passionate. She loves nothing better than taking on charlatans who peddle bogus investment schemes and misleading insurance or credit-card claims. (Our lawyers have the battle scars to prove it.)

So it came as no surprise when Jane made a remarkable confession: after all these years of dispensing it, she's decided people just aren't that good at following financial advice. We were talking about all the money people have lost in their 401(k)s during the recent stock crash, and she went on a tear. It wasn't enough to give employees a lot of investment options and let them choose on their own, she argued. With 401(k)s taking the place of pension funds and Social Security as many people's best hope for retirement, companies and the government needed to make sure people used them wisely. Well, when Jane gets that worked up, she's usually on to something, so we decided to do a cover. We hope it helps you in these turbulent times--and stirs more debate in Washington and CEO offices about how to keep little guys safer from the bear.

Note: Last week NEWSWEEK lost one of the quiet pros who are the backbone of our business: marketing research analyst Helene Daly, who died of cancer at 58, a month before she planned to retire. We'll miss her deeply.