The following guest page, providing pointers on how to join, set up, and manage local chapter meetings is courtesy of forum and DC local chapter members Rager1 and wife. These comments were first presented during the Bogleheads 13 Conference, Philadelphia PA.
Joining a local chapter
To join a Boglehead local chapter use the map below to search for a local chapter in your geographical area. Click on the Chapter number link to find out who the contact is for that particular chapter. As of January 1, 2019, there are 81 Local Chapters. Note that some chapters are active, while others are currently inactive.
How to Set Up a Local Chapter
Use the following steps to create a local chapter.
- Initiate a post on www.bogleheads.org to see if there are others in your area who would be interested in a local chapter.
- Once you have a total of 5 people who are interested, send a private message to Mel Lindauer who will assign a Local Chapter number for the new group.
- Establish an email account to use for communication with others. (Ex: email@example.com, where xx represents your geographical area). This email account will be listed as the contact email for the new group.
- Coordinate with those who expressed interest to set up a meeting date, time, and place for the first meeting.
- YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE AN INVESTMENT GURU TO SETUP AND LEAD A LOCAL CHAPTER!
You need the ability to communicate with other group members and to facilitate the meeting discussions (make sure everyone has the opportunity to speak and be heard, and see that meetings start and end on time).
Establish a meeting date, place (near mass transit if applicable), and time for the first meeting. Use libraries, fire or police stations, or other public locations that are available at no cost. Communicate the time and location to the group members.
At the first meeting, give each person an opportunity to state their name, what they are interested in, and how they heard about Bogleheads. Depending on the size of the group, this time frame will either be short or long. It’s important, however, that everyone participate in this first discussion. This will set the stage for future participation by the group members. Expect that members will come and go but a small core group will develop.
At the end of the first meeting, ask each person to list the top 3 subjects/topics that they would like to discuss at future meetings. Before the next meeting, consolidate the responses and identify the top 3 subjects/topics for the group. (Use these top 3 topics, as identified by the group, as the agenda for the second meeting).
Set up a regular meeting schedule that is preferred by the group. Some groups meet every other month, some quarterly, and some monthly. It’s important that everyone knows the meeting schedule so they can plan accordingly. Send an email to your group members advising them of the meeting schedule (this includes a reminder a few days ahead of each meeting). Set up a Google Group , Yahoo Group, or Groups.io for your local group to handle communication.
Make sure the meetings start and end on time. Ask if other group members have topics that they would like to present at future meetings. You will find that many of your group members have expertise in different areas of interest. Make sure that everyone who attends the meeting has the opportunity to talk. (Don’t let any one person dominate the discussion).
Have conversation starters in case the discussion stalls. Some examples:
- Articles referencing Bogleheads, WSJ stories, or investing books authored by other Bogleheads, i.e. Rick Ferri, Bill Bernstein, Larry Swedroe, Mike Piper, Alan Roth, Bill Schultheis, Mel Lindauer, Taylor Larimore.
- Discuss postings of interest from the Bogleheads Forum.
- Recognize when group members get promoted, transferred, married, etc.
- Have members who attend the national Bogleheads meeting report to the group.
- Many presentations are available on the Financial Literacy wiki page, and can be reused/customized at will.
Samples of topics that may be of interest:
- Retirement planning.
- Tax implications of various investments.
- Asset allocation decisions.
- When to take social security.
- Investment Policy Statement (IPS).
- Long Term Care Insurance.
- Single Premium Immediate Annuities.
- Ways to live beneath your means.
- Invite guest speakers who have expertise in specific areas of interest.
What Doesn’t Work
Experience teaches what does not work. Seek to avoid the following acts of commission or omission in your meetings:
- Not having a routine meeting schedule, including location and time.
- Allowing any one person to monopolize the meeting.
- Not giving everyone the opportunity to speak.
- Allowing anyone to pitch a product or service during the meeting.
- Not acknowledging differences of opinion and moving on.
- Getting stuck on a topic that is a matter of opinion or preference.
- Not using the meeting time wisely. (People are giving up their personal time to come to the meeting).
- Allowing any one topic to go on and on and on.
- Keeping the discussions too serious. (Be sure to have fun!).
- Moving the meeting place and time frequently.