Abby Monson and Blair Trout pose in front of the United Bank sign

These women mix, mingle, and make money in the stock market.

Originally published in West Virginia Focus magazine

On the first Tuesday of every month, a group of some 30 women from all walks of life meets at a Morgantown eatery or home to catch up and talk current events. But the monthly gathering isn’t some get-together for those fabled “ladies who lunch.” These ladies are part of the Women’s Investment Group (WIG) of Morgantown, and they meet with two goals: Make friends and make money.

WIG began in October 2013 as the brainchild of Blair Trout, the group’s vice president and an executive banker at United Bank in Morgantown. A native Texan, Blair was new to the area and looking for a way to meet new women. She’d always been interested in investing, so she came up with the idea for WIG: a women-only group focused on finding sound stocks to invest in and providing a social outlet for professional women. She reached out to two friends, Lauren Ritchie and United Bank co-worker Abby Monson, now president and treasurer of WIG, and the three set off to recruit WIG’s first members. They had no trouble drumming up interest, receiving responses from local women of every background, from WVU executives and professors to physicians, lawyers, and family businesses owners.

When it comes to choosing investments, the founders encourage members to take a common sense approach to initial stock research. “We tell them to think about what companies they spend a lot of money on. They might not even know if the company’s public or not, but that’s when we do more in-depth research,” Blair says. By the end of each meeting, every attendee contributes $50 to the investment pool and the group votes on two stocks to buy. “We are long-term investors, so we’re usually buying, not selling and trading. But that’s always an option,” Abby says.

So far WIG’s investment approach is working. The group is currently invested in 12 publicly traded companies, including Michael Kors, Johnson & Johnson, GE, and Apple. As of late August, the investments were up 10.6 percent, year-to-date. “WIG gives us a chance to come together and learn about finance, the stock market, and how to invest—all while having fun,” Blair says. “At the end of the day, it’s also a bit of a confidence booster. We’re dabbling in a male-dominated industry, but a lot of women are the ones who manage the finances of the family. It’s actually really empowering.”

Written by Morgan Grice