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Women's Investment Club in California Plans to Weather Stormy Markets


The recent turmoil in the world's financial markets has made investors nervous. There are thousands of investment clubs around the United States, and VOA's Mike O'Sullivan spoke to members of one, who say they are concerned, but plan to keep investing.

Dramatic fluctuations in the Dow Jones Industrial Average and other stock indexes have led some to panic selling. But a group of friends in Los Angeles, who make up the 20/20 Investment Club, say they are in the market for the long run.

Sonya Weaver Johnson started the club 11 years ago with friends and acquaintances. "Some of them, I have met in college, others in graduate school, others once I got married and so on. And so, there is a personal connection. It almost forces a group of friends to get together," she said.

Today, the 20/20 Investment Club has nine members - most are African American and all are professional women. They meet every other month to make decisions on joint investments. Each member invests at least 75 dollars every two months.

Club member Pam Bryant, a nurse, says these are historic times - exciting, but a little frightening. "And I think we can look back historically and see what has happened in the past with the Great Depression and crashes of the stock market, and wonder if we are going to go that way again," she said.

The club has ridden out other storms, including the dot com crash early in the decade, when many new Internet companies lost their value. The club follows the guidelines of a non-profit organization called the National Association of Investors Corporation in selecting their stocks. They have invested only in companies with a 10-year track record, mostly mid-sized and larger firms, including General Electric and Procter & Gamble.

Club member Holly Parker, a lawyer, knows the market has its ups and down, and says investors should not panic. "I will check my statements every now and then, but I am just trying to let it do its thing. They say it is a natural progression in finance and in the markets, so we will see where it takes us. But right now, I am very cautious."

At a recent meeting at the home of the one club member, the women ate breakfast, then got down to business. There was serious news to digest. A government rescue plan for Wall Street had failed to bolster the stock market.

New member Antonia Lambey says the current economic problems show the importance of careful research before investing. "I do not believe that this is the end for investments and a future for growth. There is certainly opportunity for us all to learn and to be a little bit more cautious in our investing in the future," she said.

Members of the 20/20 Investment Club say their cautious approach and long-range view have paid off, at least so far. Their guidelines call for a diversified portfolio, a focus on growth companies, reinvesting their profits and staying in the market through its up and downs. They say they are concerned about market turbulence, but that they are ready to weather the storm until the economy recovers.

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