Scheme pushes share clubs: ProShare encourages individuals to invest by pooling funds in a social setting

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The Independent Online
PRIVATE investors who are newcomers to buying shares, or who have not had enough money to do so, will be able to club together in a scheme launched by ProShare, the campaigners for wider share ownership, and Barclays Bank.

The initiative involves ProShare taking over the UK's 600 investment clubs and Barclays Stockbrokers providing administration and optional investment advice.

The idea is to encourage private individuals to meet in a social environment, such as a pub, and pool their resources together so that investing in the stock market becomes affordable.

A minimum of three people, and a maximum of 20, will be able to form a ProShare Investment Club. The members will decide how much to put in each month, say pounds 20, and the club will pay a membership fee of pounds 50 a year to ProShare. Shares will be selected by majority vote.

Sir Peter Thompson, chairman of ProShare, denied suggestions that private investors would be better advised to invest in shares via personal equity plans, which provide tax advantages. 'PEPs are boring,' he said. 'There's no social side, no pooling of resources, no fun.'

To emphasise the fun 'clubbing together' side, Sir Peter and his ProShare colleagues made their announcement yesterday dressed in a range of sportswear.

Barclays Stockbrokers is offering an introductory package, giving ProShare investment club members their first purchase of shares free, with the opportunity to lodge up to 10 existing shareholdings free of charge on, or before, 31 January, 1994.

Thereafter Barclayshare portfolio services will cost from pounds 12 plus VAT per quarter while its advisory service will cost pounds 30 plus VAT per quarter. For further information call ProShare on freephone 0800 556622, or Barclayshare on 0800 551177.

The investment club movement began in the US in 1898 and there are now 35,000 clubs worldwide. The first UK club was founded in 1959, but only about 600 of the 3,000 clubs formed since then have survived. The Wirral Ladies investment club is one of the oldest.

Sir Peter said that security of club members' money would be paramount. All transactions would have to be signed by at least two authorised people. He said: 'The clubs could be seen as a do-it-yourself investment trust, but must never be thought of as a get-rich- quick scheme.'

(Photograph omitted)