C-Trade, who recently added unit trusts to their interface has taken it a step further introducing the investment club function to their mobile application. The club function has existed for some time but was only available via the unpopular and user-hostile USSD function. The C-Trade app now allows the administration of clubs.

What are investment clubs?

Investments clubs are formed when a group of people come together with a common investing goal. Each member needs to have their C-trade account. From this account, they can contribute to the club’s fund. C-Trade also allows a system where the club can automatically draw from members individual accounts if agreed by members. The club has a simple structure with a chairperson and all members in the club sharing equally.

How it works

Perhaps this is easier illustrated with a practical example. Say a group of 5 members came together and decided to create a club. One person, acting as the chair would create the group and the others would request to join at the approval of the chair. From this point members share equally in all buys and sells. Members can push funds to the club account from their accounts or have club payments and receipts, debited or credited to their accounts automatically.

If the 5 members decided to purchase 100 shares of Company X that were trading for $1 each, then each member of the group is debited $20 plus additional costs and when the trade completes each one is allocated their 20 shares. This is one of the primary advantages but more on that later. If they decide to sell these shares, for simplicity lets assume at the same price each member will be credited with $20 less costs.

Advantages of Clubs

Clubs bring four main advantages for those investing on the ZSE. Most of these apply top people working with small amounts of money but can also be useful to those with large capital if used correctly.

Pooling of funds

This makes more sense for smaller players but has applications for the big players too. Take the example of CAFCA, one of the best performing counters on the ZSE in 2020. CAFCA shares cost ZWL$61 in a market where most shares play around ZWL$5. CAFCA is highly-priced because of the expected returns. We all want CAFCA returns but we don’t always have CAFCA money. To buy the minimum 100 shares in CAFCA requires ZWL$6100. Contrast that with the majority of small trades being for between ZWL$500 and ZWL$1000. 12 $500 traders could come together to buy 100 CAFCA shares.

Go together

If you want to go fast go alone if you want to go far, go together. Clubs help to foster motivation and a group effect. By allying with people with similar goals you have more reasons to pursue the goal. A lot of people invest for the medium to long term. Being motivated for things that we cannot see is not always see. C-trade clubs share and distribute the burden of motivation.

Shared knowledge

A well-organised investment club can also pool the minds and resources of club members to come up with a robust and profitable strategy. All other things being equal you are likely to reap rewards from having more minds working on something. For amateur investors, this is great because different members can be assigned to specialise in different stocks, by sector or individually to narrow down the best investment opportunities.

Eating an elephant

In the pooling of funds example, I hinted at something else the observant may have noticed. The minimum buy allotment is 100 shares. As a club, depending on the size an individual member can buy less than 100 shares. Continuing the CAFCA example if 12 people came together to raise the ZWL$6100 each would have to pay ZWL$508.33 plus costs and in return would receive 8.33 shares in CAFCA. Now I’m not certain about being able to hold .33 shares but let’s just focus on the 8 we are sure about. The way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. A person with otherwise limited funds can slowly acquire otherwise inaccessible shares.

Disadvantages

Perhaps the only disadvantage of clubs is that they offer no further advantages. There are no advantages from a tax or transacting cost standpoint. So if you have no problems with raising large enough amounts of money, analysing stocks, being motivated or affording high priced counters then you may not see the benefits of clubs at all.

Ownership

Any shares a member buys under a club structure belong to them. If the exit the club they leave with their shareholding. members can join along the way and will only be allocated shares that were purchased after they joined. Similarly, a member who leaves a club has no entitlement to shares purchased after their departure. The club is a vehicle that facilitates and trades and is not an entity of its own at any time.

Minority cases aside C-trade has opened up the game here. This will hopefully bring more players to the game while availing those players with more options in terms of what they can invest in.  We certainly look forward to more developments. The current app does not have the function but a new app update that is in controlled life offers the functionality. You can contact C-Trade for more information.