Dividends more than dollars

Merriwa and Cassilis Women in Black group ride stock market highs and lows together

Agribusiness
Back: Julia Hardey, Sarah Thompson, Jane Hegarty, Annie Kraefft.
Front: Bindi Frampton, Linda Grant, Claire Martin, Annie Rodgers, Tilly Hegarty.
Other members absent include Fiona Strachan, Winks Armstrong, Robyn Dorney, Doris McRae

Back: Julia Hardey, Sarah Thompson, Jane Hegarty, Annie Kraefft. Front: Bindi Frampton, Linda Grant, Claire Martin, Annie Rodgers, Tilly Hegarty. Other members absent include Fiona Strachan, Winks Armstrong, Robyn Dorney, Doris McRae

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The Merriwa and Cassilis women who are taking on the stock market

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They call themselves Women in Black.

A group of Merriwa and Cassilis district ladies first came together over a bottle of wine to talk shares in 1999 - 20 years on and the conversation is still going.

At the crux of it all, they are learning about the share market as they catch up and have a laugh with the profits from their trading a bonus.

Each member pays $50 a month in membership fees.

This fee goes into the group's bucket of funds and is traded on the share market. At times this meager starting amount has been successfully grown to more than $200,000 worth of shares.

With these sorts of skills the Women in Black are never in the red.

However, the group had to grow its experience, drawing upon the finance skills of its members, said founding member Sarah Thompson.

"I remember one of us thought PE was physical education that we did at school," Mrs Thompson said.

But all were keen to learn.

"I guess it was a time when there was an increased interest in women being involved in finance," she said.

"For me, it's given an increased confidence that I could be financially independent, which I might not have felt otherwise."

They made the decision not to use a stockbroker, preferring to remain independent.

"We thought if we hired a stockbroker, we would be advised by that stockbroking firm on what to buy, and we wanted to learn why you choose different stocks," Mrs Thompson said.

To allow new members to join the group they are able to sell shares and kick of the process again, with everybody learning from the challenge and experience along the way as they rebuild the pot.

But the group's president and another founding member Annie Rodgers said making money was never the main criteria.

"We have to get the meeting out of the way fairly early so we can crack on with the gossip and chatting," Mrs Rodgers said.

"If it wasn't for the group a lot of those women I'd never see."

They help each other through tough years and challenging life events.

"A problem shared is a problem halved, we're all in the same basket," she said.

And they're grateful to their husbands for their enduring support, despite often being told to clear out with a meat pie when it's their wife's turn to host.

This year Women in Black are celebrating their anniversary by encouraging others to start up their own group.

"The main advice is to have a main policy that you all stick to, really enjoy it, be open with each other...," Mrs Rodgers said.

Laughter the simple reason for why they've managed to stick together for so long.

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