Local club shares investing expertise

Members and prospective members of the Fortune Group Investment Club watch a webinar on the basics of investing in the stock market Jan. 22 at the Dorothy Alling Library in Williston. (Observer photo by Matt Sutkoski)
Members and prospective members of the Fortune Group Investment Club watch a webinar on the basics of investing in the stock market Jan. 22 at the Dorothy Alling Library in Williston. (Observer photo by Matt Sutkoski)

By Matt Sutkoski

Observer correspondent

January 30th, 2014

Members of the Fortune Group Investment Club, based in Williston, have surely made money from the stock market over the years, but money is not the only fortune club members have attained.

The small group, which held a public meeting last week to invite more members, said camaraderie has helped them be more confident about their own investing decisions, and the meetings are a great way to relax and talk with like-minded people.

Last Wednesday’s Fortune Group Investment Club meeting at the Dorothy Alling Memorial Library was essentially an introduction to the art of investing. Rita Martel of Winooski, a member of the group since its inception 19 years ago, said library staff told them a few people had inquired about finding an investment club.

Martel said the club readily offered to hold a meeting to try to attract those inquiring library patrons.

“The library has been so good about letting us use their space,” Martel said.

The club currently has six members. Membership numbers have fluctuated between the current number and 15, Martel said. Those numbers are about right for an investment club she said, as large numbers of people in any one club can get too unwieldy.

Club member Pamela Ashikaga of Burlington said the investment club is not to be confused with a mutual fund.

“A mutual fund is if you want to invest a large amount of money,” she said.

The club gets good returns on its investments, but those looking to make large amounts of money should invest on their own or through mutual funds.

The focus of Wednesday’s gathering was a webinar which explained why an investor’s club is a good idea, why the support and work of friends in a club might lead to greater success than going it alone and why conservative, patient investing is better than chasing the Next Big Thing.

It’s also not wise to think in the short term, and panic when things in the markets go awry. The advice was prescient. World stock markets, including the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Standard & Poor 500 index slumped sharply in the two days after the Williston investor’s club meeting.

Worries about slower growth in China, lackluster corporate profits in the United States, and political instability and economic mismanagement in some countries led to the selloff, according to the Associated Press.

Each investing decision depends upon extensive research and thought, Martel said. She’s suspicious of publications that purport to have all the answers. To illustrate her point, she showed the group a book called “All I Know About The Stock Market.” The entire book consisted of blank pages.

“There’s no end to learning how to invest,” Martel said.

The research needed to invest in the stock market has gotten easier both for individuals and investment clubs. Much of the necessary information is available online. Still, the research takes time and thought, Ashikaga said.

If the consensus among club members is to sell one company’s stock, and buy another, it would fall on one or two members of the group to lead the research. Each member of the investment club is responsible for monitoring the health and finances of the company they’ve invested in.

Another benefit of joining an investment club is participants who might not have a lot of money to invest at once can contribute as little as $25 a month toward the club’s overall investments, Ashikaga said.

Ashikaga said investors clubs are good for newcomers to the stock market because they can learn and gain confidence in their own investing decisions. The clubs are good for seasoned investors, too, because the social aspect allows for networking and learning from other peoples’ skills.

The Fortune Group Investment Club is a member of   BetterInvesting, a national organization with a goal of bringing investor savvy and knowledge to people other than the Titans of Wall Street. In other words, the rest of us.

BetterInvesting emphasizes using the stock market as a long-term strategy to compound savings and wealth.

Ashikaga said the investors club adheres to BetterInvesting’s core principles, which are: invest regularly; reinvest all earnings; diversify; and invest in quality growth companies.

Those who want more information on the investors club in Williston have another chance to connect. Another meeting is planned, this one to help beginners navigate the jargon associated with investing, for Saturday, Feb. 8 from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Dorothy Alling Memorial Library.

Anyone who would like more information on the Fortune Group Investment Club can contact Shirley Katz via email at