"Sure I'll tell you how I'm investing my own money," said a stock trader who works at a mid-size brokerage firm. "But you can't use my name because I'm investing a lot more conservatively than my clients, and they'll give me grief."

Once a year, I take a small sampling of how some Wall Street pros are putting their own money to work. Typically, the folks closest to the stock and bond markets invest more cautiously than you might expect.

Some experts say it is because they can't monitor their own investments as carefully as they do clients' money. But others admit privately that, even when optimistic predictions about the markets are coming out of their firms, they prefer to remain extra careful. This is their own money, after all.

With stock prices sinking steadily over the past several months and interest rates rising, the pros this year seem to be investing their own dough much more carefully than ever. Like the average small investor, the experts are looking to put the bulk of their assets safely away, while keeping a small amount of "mad money" for stocks or other investments that could hit the jackpot.

Here's what some of the pros are doing:

Kim Rupert, a vice president at MMS International who's in charge of keeping an eye on what the Federal Reserve is up to, is investing as if interest rates aren't going much higher.

Rupert said she has 35 percent of her own money in long-term zero coupon Treasury bonds, and 65 percent in money market funds. "The zero coupons are pretty cheap nowadays and I'm planning ahead for the next few years," said Rupert, adding, "I like the over 9 percent" yields.

While she believes interest rates could go up slightly, Rupert doesn't think the increase will be so large that she'll regret having locked up the 35 percent in zeros. Besides, she said, the 65 percent of her money allocated to money market funds could quickly be shifted to long-term bonds if rates do climb substantially.

Hildegard Zagorski, a stock market strategist at Prudential-Bache Securities Inc., said she is "not doing very much in the market." Zagorski said that aside from buying an option on a gold stock a few weeks ago -- as a play on higher inflation -- she's kept her money invested cautiously.

"I'm extremely conservative," said Zagorski, who added that this is just her nature and not a reflection on the current market. "I don't fool around with stocks."

Money that Zagorski has invested in a 401(k) retirement plan and an individual retirement account is being put to work in a money market fund and a Treasury bond fund.

"I'm nibbling {on stocks}, but not going wild," said Hugh Johnson, the chief market strategist for First Albany Corp. "I think the market is going to go down. But I'm starting to see some values."

Johnson said he's mainly buying blue-chip stocks like American Telephone & Telegraph Co. and Philip Morris Inc. But primarily, Johnson said, he's investing in his own company, First Albany.

By nibbling on blue chips and investing in First Albany, Johnson has tied up about 75 percent of the money he has available. The remaining 25 percent is being invested in Treasury, zero or municipal bonds.

Oppenheimer & Co.'s market watcher, Michael Metz, is using a different approach. "Right now I'm looking for bargains in the small capitalization area," said Metz. Small stocks, he said, have been underperforming the rest of the market. And some are selling at "going-out-of-business prices" even though they aren't.

But Metz said he is putting only 30 percent of his money into stocks right now. The rest is invested in Treasury securities with maturities of four to seven years.

Metz believes the stock market as a whole will be stuck in a trading range, with the Dow Jones industrial average going no higher than 2900 and no lower than 2400. Small stocks will stage a better recovery than big ones, Metz contends, when the price of oil prices and inflation comes down next year.

The small stocks that Metz likes include Vitalink Communications of Fremont, Calif., Tech-Sym Corp. of Houston and Storage Equities Inc. of Glendale, Calif.

Liam Dalton, who runs the money management firm of Axiom Partners in New York, is the boldest of the group sampled. And he has only 55 percent of his total assets in the stock market.

Over the short term, Dalton said he thinks there is a better chance that stocks will rise than fall. Any good news out of the Middle East would be like tossing a match on a pile of dry wood and would cause a rally, he said.

But even Dalton is investing selectively. "I'm looking to pick off some of the less vulnerable stocks," he said. Cooper Tire, for instance, has a strong franchise in its business and should have good earnings. More important, said Dalton, the stock is depressed. He also likes Kuhlman Corp., a Birmingham, Mich., manufacturer of plastics products.

Dalton said 35 percent of his assets are in bonds and the rest is cash.

Now for my secretive trader friend who didn't want his identity revealed. He's keeping 60 percent of his investments in money market funds right now and only 40 percent in stocks. "I've always liked cash on hand. You never know when you'll need it," he said.

"In stocks I try to pick out large stocks with recognizable brands," like AT&T, Mobil and Hershey, this trader said. "The only way you make money is over the long term."

The trader does have some mad money. He sets aside $10,000 to $15,000 to buy put and call options "just to play, just to keep involved."

And probably so his clients won't think he's a coward. John Crudele is a columnist for the New York Post.