Here in America, we have the great privilege of voting for those we want in leadership positions in our government. Although some would claim that our “one” vote really doesn’t count for much in a presidential election. Also, some would throw in a criticism of the Electoral College as another dilution of our vote. It may be a somewhat puzzling and difficult to understand system, but it has worked very well over the last two hundred plus years. I, for one, am grateful for the checks and balances that our founding fathers built into our Republic.
But this article isn’t about your vote during an election. This is about an area where you wield a much larger influence on the world. An influence that can change the world for your children and grandchildren well after you and I are gone. That influence is how we allocate our investment dollars.
Every dollar that you invest influences which companies will flourish, and which will become irrelevant. Stock ownership provides you with an influence in how that corporation operates as you become one of the owners of that corporation. It gives you access to the annual shareholder meetings where you can participate in the decision-making process of the company.
Perhaps this is a concept that you have never considered. Perhaps the only thing you thought about with your investments was how much money you can make in your portfolio. I have known about Socially Responsible Investments for almost as long as I have been in this business. I knew that there are some Christian Mutual fund providers available, but never thought of utilizing them for my clients as their performance left much to be desired and their fees were above average in most cases. The problem was that I never thought about whether “I” should be investing my own personal assets with my values in mind.
Today there are several “Values-Based” funds and ETF’s available for investors. The media bombards us with terms like ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance), SRI (Socially Responsible Investing), High Impact investing, and BRI (Biblically Responsible Investing) every day. They do a reasonable job of defining those terms, but the variety of investment choices is becoming more and more confusing as new products are brought out to meet the explosion of demand for values-based products. The editorial column in the March 25th, 2019 edition of Investment News states, “At around $12 Trillion, which is up 38% from two years ago, ESG strategies now make up about a quarter of all U.S. assets under professional management.” So, the demand is there, particularly with those under 50 and with women.
However, are all values based investments the same? No, far from it actually. Many of these are cookie cutter funds brought to the market by the largest Mutual Fund families as a business strategy to capitalize on the above statistical trend, and their fees reflect the unique nature and extra effort required in bringing them to the market. Many of them are designed using the United Nations Global Compact, which sounds good when you read the title, but is so vague in its implementation that it leaves a lot of room for “interpretation”. In my opinion, it is another tool for the “globalist agenda”. Please don’t misunderstand that last statement, any effort to motivate global corporations to do good is a cause for celebration.
As I said above, many of the current offerings that claim to be ESG funds use the same U.N. Global Compact to frame their values, which I guess this is better than nothing. But for the Christ follower, is this good enough? From a pure investment strategy perspective, it begs to question; is the best way to create outperformance to invest in the same things as everyone else? Probably not. So then, how can we create outperformance without becoming an investment lemming.
The answer lies in the difference in our values. In this case, the difference between biblical values and the secular values outlined (very vaguely) in the U.N. Global Compact. One set of values leads to a world of moral and corporate excellence. The other brings a certain level of accountability to the corporate world but leaves much to be interpreted in areas such as “diversity and corporate responsibility”. The Bible leaves nothing to the imagination about how to treat your neighbor, and how to be successful, generous and responsible.
As a strong Christian believer, I hold fast to the truth contained in the Bible as the answers to all of life’s questions. Not only for my personal life but for anything and everything life brings, personally or corporately.
Biblically Responsible Investing gives the investor the ability to make an impact for righteousness in a confusing world of investment choices. Using the Bible to screen for the most inspiring companies available to invest in provides the investor with confidence that their dollars are voting for the best possible future for their children and grandchildren.
 The United Nations Global Compact is a non-binding United Nations pact to encourage businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, and to report on their implementation.