For most, investing in the stock market is scary and intimidating, best left to stockbrokers and financial planners with multiple degrees in finance and financial planning.
However, a group of local women known as the Hard Servers Investment Club are not intimidated or afraid to invest in the stock market. Instead, they learn about it, make their own investments, and make money – not thousands, but enough to keep it fun and keep investing for the past 38 years.
Before the club’s founders started the Hard Servers Investment Club, they were friends who regularly played tennis together at a private club formerly located at Maryland Farms – hence the name.
Around 1980, the recently deceased Effie Schumacher joined the tennis players. She once mentioned that she had been a member of a women’s investment group when she lived in Kansas City, Missouri. This piqued the interest of many of his new friends.
“None of us knew anything about stocks,” said Fran Cliff, one of the original members.
The Hard Servers Investment Club originated as a “partnership to invest partnership assets solely in stocks and solely for the education and benefit of partners,” she said.
“At first it was just a great place for learning and social time,” Cliff said. “We always do it for the social part as well.”
The 10-member group initially met at each other’s homes. Their number eventually rose to 25, which is the maximum allowed by the club’s statutes.
Membership has fluctuated over the years as members have moved or passed away. Currently there are 12 members, with six founders still guiding newcomers.
Effie and her husband, Ed, who was a stockbroker at the time, first taught the group how to interpret the stock chart.
“Ed provided training and helped us understand the finances,” Cliff said. “We had a female broker who helped us buy the shares.”
The ladies learned how to plot stocks, use the value curve to follow the market, and subscribe to Better Investing magazine.
From the beginning, club members used their monthly membership fee of $25 to purchase stock shares. Unit value – the amount each member owns based on the length of their membership and the amount invested – has risen from $100 in 2000 to $417 per unit in January 2022.
Each member monitors one or two stocks from the group’s portfolio and reports on their findings at monthly meetings. After the reports are written, they discuss the stocks held, their future potential and whether to buy, sell or hold. Members keep the club’s portfolio well balanced while looking for new opportunities to increase their profit margin with new stocks. The portfolio currently holds 21 different stocks after the group voted to sell 25 shares of a stock that did not look to have a good future.
During the early years of the 1980s through the early 1990s, the ladies did most of their stock research in libraries and in the pages of Better Investing magazine. This is where they found an opportunity to directly buy stocks such as McDonalds and Southwest Airlines without paying fees.
“Now everything is done on the computer,” said Barbara Hildebrand, the club’s current president.
Once companies started charging flat fees to invest in stocks, members decided to go out on their own and stop using a broker.
Club members no longer meet at members’ homes – now they meet monthly at the Lynnwood Downs Clubhouse in Franklin at 9:30 a.m. on the third Monday of each month. From time to time, they have fun meeting up in a different place.
Older members and new members have developed close friendships, which Susan Lyons, former club president and founder, values the most. It’s the insight of new members and the wisdom of those who have been around for a while that makes the club special, she said.
Women interested in the Hard Service Investment Club should email Hildebrand at [email protected]