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Investor associations keeping members' interests at heart

THE Australian Investors Association had its national conference this week in Sydney. It has more than 2500 members and more than 300 turned up for presentations covering everything from the sharemarket, property, estate planning and superannuation, to managed funds, ETFs, micro-caps, building wealth for children and stock analysis.

THE Australian Investors Association had its national conference this week in Sydney. It has more than 2500 members and more than 300 turned up for presentations covering everything from the sharemarket, property, estate planning and superannuation, to managed funds, ETFs, micro-caps, building wealth for children and stock analysis.

A better looking line-up of presenters you are unlikely to find anywhere else well, not until the next national conference anyway. It is remarkable the people it attracts, many of whom only ever come out for this type of organisation, one that has its members' interests rather than its own interests at heart. There is some integrity in the industry after all.

There are only a few organisations in the stockmarket that the private investor can trust and perhaps unsurprisingly they all seem to be non-profit. They include the Australian Investors Association, the Australian Shareholders Association and the Australian Technical Analysts Association.

They all offer access, not to a product, or trading platform, or a leveraged derivative promise that you too can transform yourself into a successful forex trader from the depths of your unit in Whoop Whoop, but to people like yourself. The motto of the AIA sums it up as "Investors helping investors" and if you've ever attended its national conference, had 20 coffee breaks, nine meals and a few happy hours with the other 300 people in the same boat as you, you'll know it's true.

Outside of all that, these organisations also offer year-round locally organised events in capital cities (and beyond) and for the paltry sum of $130 at the AIA, $115 at the ASA and $240 at the ATAA, you get access to their resources, their meetings and therefore their members.

Admittedly, some of the meetings, like the annual conferences, are a bit extra but you'll eat and drink your way through most of the fees, while the speakers, presentations and education are at cost, and rubbing shoulders with like-minded investors is priceless.

The AIA "exists for one purpose: to help our members become more successful long-term investors" and to "protect and advance the interests of Australian investors across all types of investments and asset classes including shares, cash, property, self-managed superannuation funds and managed funds".

The ASA is there to "protect and advance the interests of investors" by "raising the standard of corporate governance in Australian companies". It actively pushes for "improvements in transparency and accountability in relation to company performance, executive remuneration, treatment of minority shareholders, risk management and dividend policy". The ATAA has the stated aim of "promoting the correct use of technical analysis" and "the focus of the Association is the provision of education to enable members to be more effective traders and investors".

Of course, none of these associations have the marketing budgets or the profile they deserve because they are non-profit and as a result the success of their events, and the growth in their membership, is not bought by slick TV ads and glossy press ads but is hard won by individuals whose primary motive isn't money but their generous interest in "spreading the word" for the benefit of others. Despite that, they survive and do so because their memberships, once discovered, persist because on any assessment of intrinsic value and price versus trustworthiness, they top the scales. In a market now patrolled by a pack of predator products that dress up the stockmarket as a Porsche driving party, their role in keeping investors, especially new investors, off the wrong track and on the straight and narrow is even more critical.

I have given over my article this week to an unadulterated plug for the three of them, to redress the balance. Too many people tread the investment journey alone, too many people are being picked off and too few have any opportunity to share their emotions and experiences with others. It needn't be that way.


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