Financial Forum joins nearly 50 other LWR clubs

LAKEWOOD RANCH — The denizens of Lakewood Ranch love their clubs, and a new one has just joined the roster.

It’s called Financial Forum at The Ranch, designed to be an informational session about financial matters, minus the sales pitch.

Since its launch, the club has attracted 10 or 15 members, said Erich Weber, an officer. It has already diversified by adding a women-only version, which will meet for the first time next month, he said.

Both are free and open to the public.

They are among almost 50 clubs at Lakewood Ranch, where such groups thrive. They span everything from bunco to scuba diving to an active Empty Nesters Club, according to Lori Basilone, director of Lakewood Ranch community activities.

“I think it’s when the community was developed by SMR (Schroeder-Manatee Ranch), at that point, I think they found it very important to establish some sort of a social network,” she said.

“A lot of those people who live in LWR are from all over the country, with a variety of interests. They came together and from that point forward, it was, ‘Let’s do a woman’s club, let’s do bunco, let’s do anglers.’ ”

The financial forum is an effort to help its members understand complex topics like bonds, estate planning and annuities.

It was started last month, said Weber, who is employed as a financial adviser at the Sarasota office of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, a wealth management firm.

“We’ve tackled it as being a nice financial resource for people, to look at all the different products out there, just to be a nice, solid resource of education of those issues,” he said. “There are no sales involved, it’s not driven that way,” nor is it an investment club.

Thursday, club members are slated to meet at the Polo Grill and Bar for a luncheon meeting featuring Ryan Johnson, who is slated to speak about annuities.

A separate group, the Women’s Financial Forum at The Ranch, has just started for women only, as they have special needs when it comes to financial information, Weber said.

“The women’s forum is a key, general overview of finance, but for those who don’t want necessarily to get too advanced,” Weber said. “It’s a focus on the basics, gearing those meetings to issues that affect women.”

Weber said he had noticed that people have questions about various financial topics, but do not feel comfortable asking for answers. That’s why the forum was set up in an informal fashion, to help members feel at ease, he said.

The forum meets at 9 a.m. at the Serving Spoon Restaurant, 8215 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., on the first and third Wednesdays of each month. The women’s forum meets at 9 a.m. at the Serving Spoon on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month.

For information, call (941) 364-3536 or (941) 350-5379, or go to the Internet Web site and click on “Groups & Clubs,” then “Special Interest Clubs.”