Investment Club Scores Gains, Has Fun

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Jun. 23, 2014 12:00 am  

The investment club started trading in 2011. Some of its central Arkansas members include, from left, Vernon Scott, Scott Schuldt, Daniel Robinson, Lee Welfel, Dr. Cole Brucker and Matt Black. | (Photo by Jason Burt)

“Then we went out and recruited,” Welfel said.

The group got its name from Ben Franklin, who created the original Junto Club with the goal of “mutual improvement,” according to Robinson.

Junto Investments started with eight members, four in Little Rock and four in St. Louis. It has ballooned to 17 members with some in New York, Ohio and California.

“Collective ideas are better than any singular idea typically and you benefit from other people’s knowledge,” said Robinson, 35, who is a regional investment officer at Arvest Asset Management. “We’ve tried to broaden our member base with specific type members, so … everybody has their own niche.”

Other members, all male thus far and ranging in age from 26 to 35, include attorneys, a business analyst, a chemist, an account executive and an emergency room physician, Nicholas “Cole” Brucker, who works at Baptist Health.

To buy in now would cost a new member $4,600, and each member contributes $300 a quarter. The club is a general partnership and files tax returns, said Welfel, who is the organization’s president.

Only one member has left the group since it formed, and that’s because he worked for Merrill Lynch & Co., which didn’t allow the outside investment activity, Welfel said.

The 29-year-old Welfel, a vice president at Delta Trust Mortgage Inc., doesn’t miss a chance to ruffle the feathers of a fellow investor.

“If you have the worst stock pick of the year, then you get the trophy: a pig with lipstick,” Welfel said.

The 2013 award went to Matt Black, 35, of Maumelle, an agency owner of Allstate Insurance Co. In 2012, Black recommended the natural resource company Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. of Phoenix; its stock lost 28 percent of its value over an eight-month period.

“It’s all in good fun,” Welfel said of the teasing.

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