By Gillian Bullock, ninemsn Money
The lessons learnt from a share market correction can prove invaluable for the many investment clubs around Australia. Those that can ride market volatility are the survivors.
But that's the point share clubs are in the main all about learning … and there's a lot to learn from market downturns.
As Kerrie Brown of LIPS (Ladies Investment Portfolio Syndicate), which has been running for 11 years, says, "An investment club is for learning, not for making huge amounts of money."
But of course you can make money. Indeed, Brown says her club has enjoyed an annualised return of 14 percent [prior to this year's market correction] and that was "despite making some doozie mistakes".
Another long-running investment club is Sheba Investment Network. Frances Beck says her club has posted returns of up to 30 to 35 percent a year following a range of basic investment techniques, including willingness to sell when the investment reaches a predetermined amount and reinvesting all profits and dividends.
Beck and three of her fellow club members have just launched their book The Money Club, which provides information on establishing and running a club.
A key to success is for members of the club to have common goals. According to the Australian Stock Exchange, clubs that fail within 18 months are those that have disagreement among members on an investment strategy.
That's not to say a strategy cannot evolve over time. For instance, Beck says, "Our strategy has changed over the years, with a consolidation of our investment portfolio to fewer, larger stocks. We have sold out of our non-performing shares and now concentrate on stocks which deliver earnings and dividends." The club's portfolio includes AMP, Argo, BHP, Rio, Alesco and Bank of Queensland.
Similarly, LIPS changed its strategy over the years and now no longer invests in speculative stocks. "Our best purchase was the small Queensland company Campbell Bros that we bought at $4 to $5 and it's now trading around $29," says Brown.
Most investment clubs have a partnership structure. You cannot have more than 20 partners otherwise the club would be classified as a managed investment scheme and you would need to issue a prospectus. And all members need to be actively involved in the club otherwise the non-active partners may be deemed to be receiving advice from the active partners who would then need an advisory licence to operate.
According to Beck, the best number of members is fewer than 12. Sheba Investment Network at one stage had 15 members but that proved unwieldy. The club now has six members.
LIPS, meanwhile has eight members, five original while the other three joined a long time ago.
Half the point of an investment club is the social aspect, but you should still pay meticulous attention to taking minutes at every meeting so that there are no arguments down the track about which shares you buy and how much you pay for them. And you need to keep records for tax purposes. Most clubs meet monthly any less frequently and you could miss buying opportunities.
Success lies in buying at the right time. Brown says she and her partners were "rubbing our hands together when the market recently dropped as we hadn't been buying for a while".
Most clubs require a contribution of $50 or $100 a month.
Before you set up a club, get advice. The Australian Stock Exchange (http://www.asx.com.au/investor/education/investment_clubs/) has some good guidelines but you can also check out The Money Club website (www.themoneyclub.com.au).
Given you are buying and selling shares, you need to register your club, acquire a tax file number, open a bank account and file an annual tax return. But with the legalities out of the way, a share investment club can be a lot of fun.
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