Serious Investing

I mentioned in a recent post that I attended an ‘investment meet up‘.

I had been contacted out of the blue by someone who had read my blog and who had wondered if I’d be interested in attending a meet up for investors in Manchester, which was run by SIGnet, the Serious Investors Group Network.

My immediate reaction to the ‘serious’ bit was that it wasn’t for me. Yes, I do invest on a regular basis but I don’t see myself or put myself in the ‘serious investor’ category – that to me would be someone who’s been investing a lot longer than I have, someone who lives and breathes investing, and who actually knows what they’re talking about! You know…people like the guys from Monevator or John from UK Value Investor.

However, I thought about it some more and I realised that in my own way, I am ‘serious’ about investing (Dogs of the FTSE and Monkey Stock portfolios aside!) as I am committed to investing long-term to grow my wealth and to ultimately fund my early retirement. My net worth is currently made up of around 60% in equities.

I was assured that it was just a group of like-minded private individuals who liked to meet up and chat about their investments, what they’d bought, sold and are interested in. SIGnet has a heavy presence in London and has apparently been around for 20-30 years.  I first heard of them when Mike @ 7 Circles blogged about them (though not in a very good light) but they were looking to secure a stronger base in Manchester.

So I agreed to attend. The fact that I had to book the day off work to attend gave me an idea of the types of people who would arrange a meet up on a Monday morning/ afternoon, when folk like me would normally be working in the office…

Meet Up

Anyway, the meet up took place in the boardroom of the Rain Bar pub in Manchester city centre. There weren’t that many in attendance, just the ten of us in total, and they all seemed to be regulars as they knew each other.

I fully expected to be the only woman there but was pleasantly surprised to find another.

As predicted, they were a mix of retirees, semi-retirees and freelancers/self-employed. And from the sounds of it, all experienced investors, including the chap who looked young enough to be a millennial.

I was hoping to just lurk in the background and listen, hoping that I wouldn’t be out of my depth, but within minutes of kick-off, as the newbie present, I was asked to introduce myself to all and talk about my investing background – yikes!

So, I just talked about my buy and hold strategy, investing in broadly diversified index tracker ETFs and investment trusts and building dividend income.

When prompted, I talked a little about my aim to FIRE, although none of them had heard of it before – my guess is that most of them had actually achieved FIRE already, but just weren’t aware there was a cool acronym for it!

We broke up for a pub lunch and when the event was all over, I stuck around for a drink with a few of them for a pleasant chat.

Did I Learn Anything?

It was fascinating to hear about other people’s investment strategies. Being in the bubble that is the FIRE community, it can be easy to forget that there are strategies other than just buying and holding index trackers, not that there is, of course, anything wrong with this strategy!

There was a lot of talk about AIM stocks, ‘ten-baggers’, which I assumed to be the likes of Fevertree (if you had bought at the start). As one said, he wasn’t interested in bits of dividends from FTSE stocks – that wouldn’t be enough for him to live on so he looked for stocks with potential for big capital growth. Good, if you can spot those kinds of stocks.

A couple had investments in properties (buy to let), there was mention of one dabbling briefly in bitcoin but in the main, everyone was investing in the stock markets.

Another mentioned that one of his strategies was to sell half of a stock, pocketing the profit and to hold onto the rest, a strategy which I adopted myself recently when I sold some of my AJBell shares to take advantage of the >170% gain since its IPO – I intend to hold onto the rest.

There were two presentations, with the millennial guy talking about how he personally went about choosing his investments, his analysis and research etc.

Another couple of the guys did an interesting presentation of a company (they were investors themselves, not owners of the company) but it prompted me to read more about it when I went home.

There was no hard-sell, nobody was asked to part with any money or to invest in anything – it was all quite casual though professional, all very informative.

Ultimate Lesson

The people in attendance made me feel very welcome and by the end of it all, I didn’t feel like an ‘impostor’.

However, I did realise that I wasn’t quite ready to be part of their club of ‘serious investors’. By that, I mean that I’m not where they are right now but I’m on my way there.

They are where I would like to be upon achieving FIRE, a position where I envisage I will have more time to dedicate to my investments, due to not having to work full-time.

That’s not to say that I wouldn’t attend future meet ups – I fully intend to (and to pay SIGnet’s annual £25 membership fee) because not only did I enjoy their company but I think there is still so much I can learn about investing, despite having invested for over 6 years. These people will have been invested during the big stock-market crashes, something I’ve never experienced before and many likely to be living off their investments already.

I’m not sure I would book the day off to attend another meet up (unless I had surplus holidays to use up) but I believe there’s the occasional evening meet up so will definitely be looking to attend a few of those.

Has anyone else ever been to one of these kinds of meet ups specifically for investing?

16 thoughts on “Serious Investing

  1. That’s a really interesting write-up Weenie. I’ve never been to one myself and have no plans to in the immediate future. However, like you, maybe once I’m FI and have more time on my hands, there is definitely lots I can learn from groups like these.

    • Glad you enjoyed it, CC. Although I’m a little further in my journey than you are, I’m still not where these people are but certainly, I’m interested in learning!

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  3. Interesting post, I often wondered if there was something similar over here in York. I’ve most of my investments now in a Vanguard Lifestrategy 80/20 and occasionally hyperventilate over switching it into 60/40 – that’s how exciting my investment life is these days. Buying individual stocks I see as gambling, pure and simple and I think I’d be sitting in this kind of meeting harrumphing that nobody knows anything, despite their analysis, presentations and track record. But, I’m always open to learning and like meeting people, so something like this would probably appeal to me too.

    • Hi Jim

      I think there might be a group in Leeds, but not sure if they actively run events.

      Haha, I can imagine you harrumphing over the ‘gambling of individual stocks’ but as you know, there’s no right or wrong way to invest, it all depends on the individual’s capacity for risk, what they are expecting from their investments and when. I was however glad I wasn’t the only one in trackers as there were a couple who had similarly diverse portfolios.

  4. I would love to assist into one of these meeting to meet other like minded people and give an insight on their ideas. However, I don’t think it is the right time for me yet as I’ve still got so much to read, improve and test. If I were FI I would spend loads of time on reading about companies, do some investing courses and or even study business.

    I’m curious about whether sb from the meeting mentioned or shared any opinion from the below?

    Were they investing in US or UK equities? Did anyone mentioned anything about the UK market being undervalued? Any comments or worries related to the large US debt or what phase we are currently in the economic market cycle? What about crowdfunding or P2P lending companies? Any comments? Any value investor? How many companies did they hold on their portfolio? Any specific industry or sector with a shared view on its future growth?

    I think that if I would meet with any group of serious investors they would kick me out of the room in 10min, hehe.

    Thanks for the write up, really interesting Weenie.

    • Hi Tony

      These kinds of events are much more popular down south so there probably is one near you – I’ll see if I can find any info.

      I think investments were mostly in UK equities but I’m sure I heard mention that a couple invested in US too. No real discussion about economies or undervalued markets, or crowdfunding and P2P as it wasn’t possible to discuss everything but that’s not to say none of them had such investments.

      From the sounds of things though, most of them had more focused portfolios, ie just a few stocks – I think I was in the minority with a broad diverse and large number of investments.

      Haha, I doubt that they would kick you out after 10 mins – in fact, if you were prepared to talk of your own investing experience (the unfortunate negative experience), they’d probably be buying you drinks to hear more!

  5. Crumbs Weenie, if you don’t think of yourself as a serious investor, your bar is very high! I would rather you managed my money than almost anybody else.

  6. How funny that these seasoned investors haven’t heard of FIRE! It really does show that sometimes we operate in a bubble 🙂

    I’m also 6 years into my investing journey, and I’d also hesitate to call myself a serious investor, but actually over time all that blog reading and research does add up to a fair bit of knowledge. Mind you, I just invested in a tiny bit of crypto to get it out of my system, so have I really learned anything? 😉

    • Hi Mindy

      Yes, I realise how niche a community we really are when I’m with my friends and there are so many things that I can’t talk about relating to FIRE as they wouldn’t have a clue what I was talking about that!

      Good to hear that I’m not the only one who doesn’t think of themselves as a serious investor! Good luck with your crypto!

  7. I work with a guy who buys few stocks rather than index funds. He often comments on his stocks taking a dive. Sounds too risky for me and I’m not sure than works anyway long term.

    Read half your returns are from dividends being reinvested, returns on returns. I am interested in AIM market returns though but if i did that it would in an index fund. Cheers, Adam

    • Hi Adam

      Thanks for the comment – agree, just a few stocks is just too risky; great if those few do well, terrible if they don’t. I’m interested in a AIM stocks too but not sure I’m lucky enough to pick the ones to do well. Perhaps I’ll see if there are any investment trusts which have some AIM exposure.

  8. Sounds like an interesting event. Thanks for the write-up, Weenie.

    Like Tony said, above, I’d be interested in knowing if there are any similar events going on down south. I think I’d feel just as out of place as you described, as I’m only invested in a single global tracker, and currently don’t think that stock picking is for me. However, I’m sure the people attending these events still have some valuable advice and experience to share, so it would be interesting to give it a try!

    • Hey Dr FIRE
      Since this post, I have attended a second event and it doesn’t matter that what you’re investing in is different from everyone else as there is no right or wrong, only what you are comfortable doing for your own situation.
      I’ll find out about other events down south and will drop you a note.

  9. Hi Weenie,

    Thanks for writing about this meet up, I’d never heard of SIGnet before this. I think it’s great to go along to these kinds of in-person meet-ups, though I think I would have been quite daunted by the prospects of being among serious investors! Even though I have been actively pursuing FIRE for over 3 years now I still feel like I’m a dabbler when it comes to knowing what I’m doing with investing.

    I was happy to see Jim’s comment above about having various of the different Vanguard Lifestrategy mixes. My ISA’s have all been invested in Lifestrategy funds, but I have a real mix of 60/40, 80/20 & 100 depending on how risk averse I was feeling when I invested! At some point I feel like I should take some time to decide on a “proper” strategy as I know there are lots of different allocation split methods out there. However this approach is working for me for now, as at least it means I’m investing rather than sitting on the side lines.

    Like Mindy I’m amazed the group hadn’t heard of FIRE, clearly it’s not gone as mainstream as I thought it had yet!

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