Four key objectives define Mobius: To learn, to invest, to enjoy and to earn. Here we discuss how these were implemented in the club over the years
By in large, UK investment clubs have four main objectives:
In the early years of the UK investment club movement (1990s), Proshare had a motto “A way to learn, a way to earn” and was part of its original logo. Another slogan was “Sensible share investing” - alluding to the fact long term investing was the preferred way forward.
Simply & briefly put …
To learn: The learning element is crucial in the education and often members join or get together to learn from each other and share investment techniques, best practices and acquire the necessary experience and confidence to also invest in their own (personal) portfolio
To invest: This is the core objective: Creating and managing the lifecycle of investing in assets (stocks, shares, bonds etc..) and managing portfolios. The practice of investing can be quite daunting at the beginning for novices. The notion of interacting with stockbrokers, buying and selling stocks, at set prices and managing the spread. Then comes the strategy adopted (top down, bottom up), decision making, asset class, asset allocation, portfolio management among many facets
To enjoy: This is a club after all, and the social element could be important. That is why clubs are normally set (at least initially) by an existing link or bond - be it friends, family members, neighbours, at the workplace, perhaps part of another club.
To earn: This is one of the important aims over time: To have a good return (profit) on the investments made by members.
A club with experienced investors as members may just focus on the task at hand and focus on objectives 2 and 4 whereas a new club with novice investors is likely to focus on objectives 1 and 2.
At the Mobius club …
We certainly embraced all four objectives. In the early years, the 4th objective took a back seat. The first three took centre stage. From time to time a poll among members took place with most members opted in priority order (that changed from time to time) but with all three deemed very important: to learn, to enjoy, to invest.
Indeed, one of Proshare’s main tenets (at least initially) was heavily geared on the learning component, so much so that its underlying message “only invest what you are prepared to lose”, suggesting an indicative £50/month investment per member. The follow-on message felt like “ think of it as a monthly fee one pays to learn to invest”.
So the idea was to experiment & try different ways to learn & invest - so that (at least the theory) members would be in a better position (experience & confidence) to invest in their own personal portfolio:
Members brought to the table new strategies they read about, shared approaches and techniques.
There were tutorial sessions in the monthly meetings. We also invited members from other clubs to discuss and exchange ideas and share best practices.
Members also attended regional seminars (some organised by Proshare in the early 2000s)
Members also attended conferences such as the Annual Proshare awards (2002-2007) the UK NICC National Investment Clubs conferences (2008-2014).
Mobius members at the Proshare Annual Conference & Awards ceremony 2005
The learning component is a continuous process - different members bring in different profiles and these are visible in the way they propose shares for investment or indeed they discuss or review submission or the existing portfolio. One could see over the years how members grew in confidence in actively participating in the Mobius portfolio, as well as strengthening their own personal portfolios. Indeed many of them have used stocks from the Mobius portfolio to complement their own.
Mobius has encouraged members to have their own approach and not set a single definitive investment strategy. This played in Mobius strength, having a diversified set of opinions & views to propose and review shares before submission or for regular reviews (see group dynamics).
Mobius monthly meeting June 2013
The “to enjoy” aim has developed well over time. A typical Mobius meeting is first and foremost a social gathering affair. The meetings typically start at 7:00pm at a member’s home, with a good dinner (buffet) around 8:30/9pm and a 30 minutes break with a chance to catch up too. This has helped team bonding. There are also cinema/dinner outings organised a couple of times a year as well as the traditional Christmas dinner (with partners).
Mobius Christmas dinner 2009
The “to invest” is the central piece and Mobius has developed a really good discipline over time. The transactions analysis page shows the four different periods the club went as its investment maturity developed. Other key components of the “to invest” objective are covered at length in the investments section here and Mobius overview.
The “to earn” objective started to take centre stage around 2006 and 2007, when the club looked to improve on its investment & portfolio’s performance. Members were not satisfied with the fact the club did not beat the FTSE-allshare index for the first 9 years. So it set to review the strategy in a more discipline fashion for a better performance, for example looking at its core investment tools & methods, disciplines around the portfolio and strategies such as systematic and semi-systematic.
As the club's investment methods & portfolio matured, its returns on investment improved significantly (see investment returns) and also beat the FTSE-Allshare consistently over the past decade (see Performance benchmark). In addition, the members’ investment in the club has grown quite sizeable (even at £50/month over a couple of decades). So the notion of experimenting and taking unnecessary risks was taken with a level of caution given the investments at stake. A much higher level of scrutiny was placed on proposals and closer checks on existing holdings in the portfolio
This focus on “to earn” (vs. to learn & experiment) objectives was severely tested when in 2018-19, Mobius welcomed five new members in a short period of time (joining an existing membership count of seven). The new members naturally wished to try & experiment whilst existing members (with larger stakes) had a more cautious approach (see Mobius risk tolerance).