Entries by Eric Smyth

LGBT fund shut down, biblical investing soars

LGBT activists are scratching their heads following the abrupt closure of a widely followed investment fund that was focused on LGBT advocacy and invested only in the stocks of companies which demonstrated outspoken support for LGBT acceptance and approval in the workplace.

The ALPS “Workplace Equality” ETF (exchange traded fund), which traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker EQLT, was launched on February 24th, 2014 and ceased trading two weeks ago on April 26th, 2019.

During its five full years of trading, EQLT enjoyed massive global exposure, high praise from major media outlets and even above average performance over most timeframes. EQLT was praised as the golden-child of a new age of progressive values among supposedly forward-thinking businesses and investors.

But EQLT was a complete failure.

EQLT Failure

After five years, massive publicity and solid performance, EQLT only managed to attract $16.7M in assets under management by the time it was liquidated last month. A statement issued by the fund’s Board of Trustees at ALPS ETF Trust explained the reasons behind EQLT’s demise:

“The decision to close the Fund was made by the ALPS ETF Trusts Board of Trustees after consultation with ALPS Advisors, Inc., the investment adviser to the Fund. On consideration of the Funds’ inability to attract significant market interest since the Funds’ inception, its future viability as well as prospects for growth of the Funds’ assets in the foreseeable future, the Board determined that it was in the best interests of the Fund and its shareholders to liquidate the Funds shares, which are listed on the NYSE ARCA. The last day of trading for the Fund is scheduled to be Friday, 26 April, 2019.”

What happened? If the media’s insistent message that the mainstream current is in support of LGBT advocacy, and that holding to the biblical definition of marriage and sexuality is, as The New York Times put it in an article on the subject, “squarely at odds with that of nearly all of corporate America”, then how is it that a fund like EQLT was a flop?

And EQLT is not the only pro-LGBT fund that is struggling. The UBS InsightShares LGBT Employment Equality ETF (ticker: PRID) was launched January 10th, 2018. PRID follows a similar investment methodology to the failed EQLT of investing in companies identified by LGBT activism powerhouse, Human Rights Coalition (HRC), as supporters of the LGBT agenda.

PRID offers an expense ratio of 0.65%, trades on the New York Stock Exchange and is managed by subadvisor Vident Investment Advisors, an affiliate of Vident Financial, which also offers their own stable of “principles based” investment funds.

More than a year later, PRID claims just a scant $2.65M in assets under management according to data sourced from Morningstar.

Biblically Responsible Investing Success

Meanwhile, support for biblically responsible investing (BRI) is skyrocketing. I recently wrote an article highlighting some examples of the explosive growth of the biblically responsible investing movement:

  • A $520M investment advisory firm making the decision to transition all of their assets into biblically responsible investing portfolios;
  • My own biblically responsible investing firm, Inspire Investing, growing from $250M in assets under management to $465M just since the start of this year;
  • The launch of two new biblically responsible investing ETFs from BRI fund company, Timothy Plan, which both have over $40M in assets in just the first week since launch;
  • Inspire Investing being nominated as a finalist for “Best Thematic ETF of the Year” award in the annual ETF.com Awards.

By the grace of God, we are seeing a massive expansion of the BRI movement across the country and around the world. Across the pond in Spain, a startup Catholic fund company named Altum Faithful has caught the European investment world’s eye and gained assets at a rapid pace. Altum has also recently released a research paper analyzing the performance of the S&P 500 compared to a biblically screened version of the S&P 500 with compelling results.

The Real Picture

Why is there such disparity between the ongoing success of the biblically responsible investing movement and the surprising failure of pro-LGBT investment funds?

I believe that the bottom line is that – contrary to popular media opinion – there are still lots of people in this world who believe in biblical values, love God and want to glorify Him in everything they do, including how they invest His money.

In fact, data from Pew Research, Economic Policy Institute and the US Census indicates that Christians control approximately two-thirds of the assets in U.S. retirement funds, a whopping $21 Trillion dollars.

As Christians we are called to love our neighbors in the LGBT community, and we should seek to be a blessing to them as ministers of Christ’s love on earth. And while I hope that most people want to support and love LGBT people, I believe that most people do not support or accept homosexuality as a moral or appropriate lifestyle choice and do not want to get involved in LGBT activism.

The success of biblically responsible investing and failure of pro-LGBT funds suggests this is the real picture.

What do you think?


Robert Netzly is the CEO of Inspire Investing and frequent contributor on FOX, Bloomberg, New York Times and other major media. Read more from Robert in his #1 bestselling book Biblically Responsible Investing, available at Amazon.com and other major retailers.

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Advisory Services are offered through CWM Advisors, LLC dba Inspire, a Registered Investment Adviser with the SEC.