Proshare investment clubs (PIC) was instrumental in the success of the investment club movement but has since left the field and a vaccum.
Proshare is a non-profit organisation setup in 1992 to promote "responsible share ownership". Proshare Investment Clubs (PIC) was part of Proshare to promote investment clubs in the UK. It underpinned and provided support for most investment clubs from 1992 to 2007.
Proshare (PIC) was instrumental in the establishment of a large number of UK investment clubs (like Mobius). It provided a central and focus point for clubs. It had become simple to set up and run an investment club, with a light touch legal framework in the form of partnerships (known as "the simplified scheme") and a detailed set of guidelines, rules, a constitution and a number of templates on the day to day running of clubs.
PIC produced a comprehensive manual that provided the main documents, processes and templates to start and run an investment club. In the period 1992 to 2007, PIC also organised national and regional seminars and an annual conference & awards dinner.
By 2002, there were 10,217 clubs registered with PIC and an estimated 12,000 clubs around 2008.
Members of the Mobius club took most opportunities to attend and/or participate in PIC events, in particular those in the North of England, as well as from time to time going to London. The Mobius club also actively engaged with meeting other clubs as well as providing support (including via the Proshare online message boards). Mobius members also engaged with the Proshare team directly to promote investment clubs. The Mobius club won the 2006 Proshare award for “Best achievement” in recognition of its work promoting and encouraging the investment club movement.
By the early 1990s, there was a combination of events that led to the strong interest in investment clubs:
There was the UK Government’s privatisation programme that led to a large number of private shareholders.
Computer & communication technologies had also significantly evolved, rendering access to the stock market much easier and at a reasonable cost:
These led to the creation of a number of low cost stock broker firms dedicated to private investors, offering principally execution-only services.
As these “new” private investors started to be interested in other “non-privatisation” shares, there was a desire to provide additional support for this community: Hence the birth of Proshare.
Proshare’s focus has been on "responsible share based investment". Through its seminars, courses and documents, it encouraged a long term approach to investing with focus on investing (rather than trading) and a fundamental approach (with a touch of technical analysis) in its seminars. The Zulu principle was sometimes at the centre of the “how-to” investment seminars. The Proshare investment proposal toolkit has the trait of fundamental analysis in its approach.
Proshare PIC (when it became Proshareclubs) changed its motto from "responsible share based investment" to “a way to learn and a way to earn”.
PIC was really popular with investment clubs and private investors interested in setting up or joining a club alike. By 2007 however, it seemed to be running out of steam (or perhaps funds). PIC was split from Proshare, became Proshareclubs and was acquired by DigitalLook. Unfortunately, the 2008 financial crisis meant that Proshareclubs took a back seat at DigitalLook and since then it appears that Proshareclubs has ceased.
The Proshareclubs website seems to be still up and running, but it looks like it has not been updated for at least a decade. The only active/live part seems to be the message boards and the financial data appearing in the main pages.
Proshare continues to trade and is still active today (at the time of writing, February 2022) championing the cause of employee share ownership.
It has been disappointing that no (central) institution/function exists today to cater for investment clubs. At Mobius (like probably with other established investment clubs), we get contacted by other private investors or other clubs with respect to Proshare PIC & seeking further information/guidance. The PIC manual was only ever produced in paper print format with the first edition in 1993 and last known revision in 1997. The Proshareclubs web site had stated for quite a while that these manuals are no longer available.
The quality and well-defined structure of PIC initial processes & resulting documentation meant investment clubs are being created and setup well after 2007/8. Most UK clubs use at least the PIC constitution, rules and other element of its framework as the starting point and shape/modify them accordingly.