Each month Emily Trant follows the trials, tribulations and successes of a group of ordinary people from all walks of life who have come together to create an investment club and learn how to put money into the stock market.
Truth is, I don't think any of us know where to start so we take the option of just plunging right in.
It is a cold drizzly night in the middle of December, I am late and the welcoming bright lights of the Christmas shops and bars are beckoning. As I rush headlong into the street, causing the fast approaching cab driver to give me the sort of look normally reserved for Saddam Hussein, I am ready to pack it all in and dive for the warmth and comfort of a nice glass of Merlot.
But something spurs me on. Dreams of making a killing on the stock market? The challenge of taking on and beating those stuffy City experts at their own game? The fact that I promised to turn up and it could be a laugh? Probably a bit of all three – but I haven't got time to waste as a burst into the room ten minutes late and gasping for breath from my near death cab experience.
It's our first official meeting of the Blue Chip Stockings investment club. In all honesty both the name and the whole concept of being part of an investment club are going to take a bit of getting used to.
When I arrived in the UK last Autumn from Canada the last thing I thought I would end up doing was joining an investment club. Now here I am and, despite the slightly bemused look on my face and attempt to hide behind the more knowledgeable looking women at the meeting, I appear to have been made treasurer.
Looking around for someone to blame I plump for Julie, an old hat in the investment club world who has been a member of the Willow Investment Club for more than 10 years. She was the one that I stumbled across at a drinks do I went to a few months earlier and volunteered to share a bit of expertise. Before long, and after a few glasses of wine, I was hooked on the idea and raring to go to help set up an all-female club.
Now we are here we immediately and efficiently get down to the important business – having a good old natter. I just started a new job, Lisa's mum is unwell, Dolores is undertaking a massive home renovation project.
Then we are ready to get down to the other business of the evening. The only problem left is that we don't really know what business we're getting down to, or how to go about it.
Our club decided to use a rotating chairperson structure, and Lisa has offered to chair this meeting. She looks a little hesitant, as though she's not exactly certain where to begin. Truth is, I don't think any of us know where to start so we take the option of just plunging right in.
When we first met informally a few weeks before to work out all the legalities of setting up our club we agreed that we needed to educate ourselves a bit (okay a lot) before we would be ready to make our first investment. Tonight we've decided to demonstrate everything and anything we know about the stock market. As a little project, we each decided to research one stock - Marks & Spencer - and compare results.
Lisa gets started, and explains that she didn't know where to begin (this is quickly becoming our club motto) so began looking up numbers ad hoc. She eventually settled on the FTSE 100 stock with the biggest dividend pay-out and from there was able to compile all sorts of figures and graphs with ease.
We all passed these impressive looking printouts around, followed by an attempt at a coherent conversation about PE's and earnings per share and a host of other strange numbers and digits. I have decided that Lisa is definitely a numbers person.
Janet was the next person to offer up her piece of investment research. She had approached it from a completely different tack, and chose to research a company whose directors she knew. Her research touched briefly upon the numbers, but focused more on the company itself – history, products, growth, directors, management and competition among other things. That was definitely more on a wavelength I could understand.
At the end of our meeting we came to a definite decision on our next steps – do nothing (yet). Our next step is to all research the same company and see who comes up with the best idea.
I think our initial band of five can pull it off. Our short term plan is to tread carefully, at least sound as though we know what we are doing and then starting splashing out on stocks by Spring.
By the time the meeting breaks up I think perhaps that Julie is not such a bad person after all to introduce me to investment clubs.
To find out more about joining an investment club visit www.proshareclubs.co.uk and to find out more about the stock market and check the latest share prices visit www.DigitalLook.com
Next month: Putting our money where our mouths are