Investment clubs opening at rate of 300 a month as craze grips UK, says ProShare

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The Independent Online

In just one year, the number of investment clubs in the UK has more than doubled from 3,800 to 8,500, and 300 new clubs are being created every month, according to research published today. Five years ago there were only 300 clubs in Britain.

In just one year, the number of investment clubs in the UK has more than doubled from 3,800 to 8,500, and 300 new clubs are being created every month, according to research published today. Five years ago there were only 300 clubs in Britain.

ProShare, the organisation which promotes responsible share investment, has run the club movement since 1992, and in its latest annual survey says that club members now total nearly 120,000 individuals with club portfolios worth £150m. This total was only £41.8m last year, showing both the growth of the movement and the performance of their investments.

ProShare's survey for the year to the end of August illustrates the craze for friends and work colleagues meeting regularly to pool their money and play the markets.

One pub-based club which has been going since 1994 is the "H&G", named after the Horse and Groom pub in Rochford, Kent. Barry Lake, the chairman of the 13-strong club, says: "We each put in £25 a month. You could spend that in the pub in an evening, so its not a disaster if the investments go wrong."

Mr Lake says the club's portfolio grew in value from £33,000 in 1999 to £60,000 this year, after peaking at £90,000 in the spring.

ProShare says the investment club movement is a powerful driver both for wider share ownership and use of the internet. Sixty-one per cent of the individuals in the survey had never traded a share before joining a club. Seventy-seven per cent have access to the internet. Membership is spread over a range of ages and backgrounds, although three-quarters are over 45. While a tenth of members are in banking and financial services, over twice that number are in education, medicine and the public sector.

The Racqueteers Investment Club, was formed by a score of tennis enthusiasts in Leamington Spa, mostly in their 40s or 50s, and meets in the Clarendon Arms in Kenilworth. Roger Williams, the Racqueteers' chairman, says: "I have learnt that the collective wisdom of a group of 20 people is much more effective than any individual."

The average return this year for all clubs was 23 per cent, up from 10 per cent last year

Over half the clubs have invested in AIM companies, and nearly three-quarters in the FTSE 250. This compares to 78 per cent of clubs which have investments in the FTSE 100.

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