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All about investing

Local investment club stays on top of the stock exchange

Created date

January 29th, 2014
man sitting at desk with papers

Jerry Basista has been interested in economics and the stock market since he was in high school. In fact, he made his first stock purchase, shares of ITT Corporation, when he was in college. 

“I’ve been an active investor for 60 years,” he says. “I’ve always enjoyed it.”

Over the years, Jerry has added many other stocks to his portfolio, but he’s held onto some of those ITT shares.

“If you are interested in investing, it can be very profitable if you know your companies when you buy them,” Jerry says of his personal investing philosophy. “That way, you can follow through on them over the years.”

Jerry, a retired engineer, lives at Run, an Erickson Living community in Novi, Mich. Among his nearly 1,000 neighbors, he has connected with many other active retirees who share his interest in investing and understanding the stock market. Along with about 25 other residents, Jerry belongs to Fox Run’s resident-run investing club. 

The club meets once a month to discuss a variety of topics related to money management and investing, from tax and estate planning to the advantages of different asset classes to the performance of individual stocks like Apple or General Motors. 

Of course, current events impact what the group talks about at meetings. In recent months, they’ve had discussions about the federal government sequester, the Detroit bankruptcy and Federal Reserve policy and its impact on U.S. Treasuries. 

Meaningful meetings

About two years ago, Jerry took over leadership of the investing club from its founder and former leader Pearl Holforty. As the club leader, Jerry helps guide the club’s discussions.

“Before meetings, I go through financial periodicals like Fortune magazine and the Wall Street Journal, and I clip and note what is interesting,” he says.

Periodically, the investing club hosts professional speakers who educate members on complex financial topics. Recently, they brought in a money manager to talk about the risks and benefits of annuities. At another meeting, one club member’s daughter, who works as an engineer at General Motors, spoke to the group about investing in automotive stocks—a topic of keen interest to Detroit-area investors. 

The group also had a chance to talk one-on-one with Fox Run’s comptroller, who shared insights about how the community manages its investments. 

The members also swap stock tips and have spirited discussions about the merits of different investing strategies. 

In 2013, the members of the investing club put their money where their mouths are, so to speak, in a fun and informative experiment. Last May, each member was given $100,000 of play money to start a virtual investment portfolio. Using that “money,” each member built his or her own fantasy stock portfolio. 

Club member Harry Burt tracked each member’s portfolio performance, and at the end of the year, the investor with the highest returns would win a prize—and endless bragging rights.

Jerry says he and his fellow investing club members all take different approaches to investing, which is what has made their contest so interesting. 

“We have different people here with different ways of thinking. I am extremely conservative, so I am shooting for 6% returns,” Jerry says. But, Bill Davis, knowing this is play money, is a contrarian.”