The prolonged slump in U.S. real estate hasn't made Darius Michalski's clients more interested in stocks or bonds. They want to invest in property, gold and other tangible assets. Period.

Many "have two or three homes rented out and consider those monthly checks their retirement," says the Summit, N.J., planner, who serves several hundred Polish-American and other Eastern European immigrant clients with a net worth of $100,000 to $1 million. While Michalski, who works from an independent office of Cantella & Co., urges his clients to diversify, it's also clear he understands how hyperinflation or rampant corruption made them leery of financial markets. "A lot of them come from countries where everything collapsed, so they fear losing everything," Michalski says.

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