Investors urged to try the pool: A shareholders' club gets a new look. Caroline Merrell reports

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The Independent Online
INVESTMENT clubs are poised to gain a new lease of life following a pounds 25,000 initiative just launched by a private shareholder lobby group, Proshare.

Investment clubs have been around since the Fifties and Sixties. But of the 1,200 investment clubs registered with the National Association of Investment Clubs only about 500, with an average membership of 12, are active.

The clubs offer groups of up to 20 investors the means to pool their money and resources to build up a portfolio of shares. These groups meet regularly and decide on the best areas of investment.

Proshare is offering a formula for interested investors to set up their own clubs and hopes that it can develop the investment club movement to be as successful in the UK as it is in the United States, where there are 15,000 clubs.

Part of the Proshare package is a manual that contains the method for setting up a new club. The manual explains how to write a constitution and gives a set of rules outlining the election of officers and new members, the withdrawal of membership and how often meetings should be held.

The specimen rules also describe how to run the club's portfolio, set up bank accounts for members, appoint trustees and settle any disputes. They even provide a detailed description of the legal background to setting up a club.

Proshare has already absorbed the National Association of Investment Clubs, which has now become the Proshare Investment Clubs. The existing clubs within the association will be given the option of becoming members of Proshare Investment Clubs for a special discounted membership of pounds 35. Previously the clubs paid around pounds 10 to register.

Membership of Proshare Investment Clubs costs pounds 50 per year for a start-up club. For that the club receives the manual, a monthly newsletter, a Proshare guide to information sources, a Shares For You video and the Proshare Guide to You and Your Stockbroker.

The revamped organisation also hopes to build up links between clubs and to give its members special discounts.

Barclays Stockbrokers is offering Proshare Investment Clubs a share investment service called the Barclayshare Investment Club Service, which provides dealing, administration and stockmarket advice.

The portfolio service costs a minimum of pounds 12 per quarter, deals with all sharedealing administration and simplifies tax returns.

For a minimum of pounds 30 a quarter, Barclays offers a stock market advisory service which includes the benefits of the portfolio service plus direct advice.

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