Going Beyond Investing

The Az One Investment Club provides its members with credit counseling and other financial services

Sometimes, to have a strong functioning investment club, you have to do more than simple investing. Bayonne, New Jersey-based Az One (pronounced As One) Investment Club discovered that to get their organization up and running, members would first have to teach each other the basics of investing, then provide assistance to themselves in various aspects of their finances, including debt management and tax reduction. Their efforts have been so successful that Az One club members produce a local community newsletter and provide seminars on investing.

The club was formed in April 2000 after Az One President Phillip Curtis and several family members began discussing entrepreneurial ventures at a family gathering. Curtis says, “None of us knew the first thing about the stock market.” So Ted Borroum, the club’s advisor, volunteered to teach club members about investing. Borroum, who is an assistant vice president and senior programmer analyst for a major Wall Street investment bank, used a patient, detailed teaching style, and when tackling difficult subject matter, he says, he sought to break it down. “I’d speak in terms everyone could understand,” he explains.

Borroum says that after about five meetings, the group of 21 friends and family members, who range in age from 16 to 68, was ready to begin investing. While learning the fundamentals, members had been making their monthly contributions of $50. They were split into groups that researched different industry sectors such as food, technology, pharmaceuticals, or automotives. After researching a proposed stock, presentations were made to the entire club, which then voted on whether to purchase.

Curtis says the club holds positions in IBM (NYSE: IBM), Home Depot (NYSE: HD), Pepsi Bottling Group (NYSE: PBG), Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT), and Rainbow Media Group (NYSE: RMG). The club’s portfolio balance as of June 6 was $13,851; it managed a 6.1% return last year, but it’s down 7% since inception. Curtis says, two of the club’s members who are accountants provided information, via two-hour seminars, on how to reduce debt by lowering credit card interest rates. Member Lois Borroum, Ted’s sister, says that by simply phoning her credit card company, she was able to negotiate her rate from 24.99% to 16.99%. The accountants also aid other members by doing taxes for their freelance businesses, such as Curtis’ real estate endeavor.

Az One’s newsletter and seminars encourage community members to invest and start investment clubs. “We seek to give back to the community and help those who don’t understand the market,” says Curtis.

AZ One’s Top Holdings

Company

Exchange/
Symbol

Portfolio
Weighting

IBM

NYSE: IBM

48%

Home Depot

NYSE: HD

19

Pepsi Bottling Co.

NYSE: PBG

17

Wal-Mart

NYSE: WMT

15

Rainbow Media Group

NYSE: RMG

1

*AS OF JUNE 6, 2002
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