LAS VEGAS -- Being financially prepared for retirement consistently ranks at or near the top of investors' lists of priorities regardless of their age, ethnicity, income level or gender. But this basic albeit mundane goal was largely forgotten by fund managers, financial advisors and even investors themselves in the past decade as cheap loans and skyrocketing home prices distracted many from the big picture.

That's all changed now thanks to the bursting of the housing bubble -- a highly volatile and,  as it turns out, often artificial distraction that made it easy for investors and their advisors to backburner their primary retirement goals when their shelter was doubling as a bottomless ATM -- as well as the outright fraud and neglect perpetrated by some of the world's largest banks and investment firms.

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