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Tips for Joining a Club or Starting Your Own

June 30, 1996|KATHY M. KRISTOF | TIMES STAFF WRITER

If you think you want to start or join an investment club, the National Assn. of Investors Corp. can help with information on how to find a club that's accepting new members or how to launch your own.

To launch a club:

* Select members. Potential members don't need any investing experience, but they ought to be congenial people who are willing to cooperate within a group and accept and complete assignments. Members must be willing to do research and reports on specific industries and stocks. The NAIC estimates this requires a commitment of three or four hours a month from each member. The typical club has 12 to 20 members, but some have as few as two or more than two dozen.

* Discuss structure. Investment clubs are normally set up as partnerships, where each member gets a share of the profits and losses. However, some clubs require everyone to invest the same amount, whereas others allow differing investments and simply divide profits and losses based on each investor's pro-rata share.

In addition, the club must decide when and how investors can be added or cashed out. And they must decide on an investment policy. Will buy, sell and hold decisions be made based on a majority vote? A three-quarter majority? Will each member have equal say, or will the club allow proportionate voting based on how much each person has invested (in clubs where disproportionate investments are allowed)?

* Consider accounting. Someone will have to keep track of the club's profits and losses and handle the distribution of cash to members who need to take money out or simply quit. Although some of this can be handled by whatever broker you choose to do your trading, a club member should be assigned to review brokerage statements and handle internal accounting for the group.

* Set dues. How much will each investor be required to contribute upfront or each month? The average club sets monthly dues between $30 and $100. However, some simply have an initial investment requirement and then vote on when, or if, to add to the kitty.

* Guide. Check your library or bookstore for the NAIC's just-published "Starting and Running a Profitable Investment Club" by Thomas E. O'Hara and Kenneth S. Janke Sr. (Random House/Times Books).

To Join a Club:

Your best bet is to get your hands on Better Investing magazine, the NAIC's monthly publication. The back of the magazine notes upcoming meetings of NAIC regional councils. At these meetings, individuals who want to join clubs--and clubs that want new members--are invited to post their names on a bulletin board. You can then attend a meeting or two to see if your interests and the club's will match.

The NAIC also has detailed instructions on learning how to invest, how to form a partnership for the purposes of your club and how to handle accounting and brokerage services. However, these services are available only to members. Membership runs $39 for individuals and $35 for clubs, plus $14 for each club member.

For more information, contact the National Assn. of Investors Corp. at 711 W. Thirteen Mile Road, Madison Heights, MI 48071.

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