Entries by Robert Netzly

Inspire Investing Ranked #3 in ‘Top 50 Fastest Growing Firms’ by FA Magazine

Faith-based ESG investing firm Inspire Investing was ranked the 3rd fastest growing Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) in the nation in FA Magazine’s ‘Top 50 Fastest Growing Firms – 2020’ annual report. SAN JOSE, CA / ACCESSWIRE / AUGUST 20, 2020 — Inspire Investing, a global leader in the faith-based ESG investing industry, ranked as the […]

Inspire Investing Recognized On Inc. 5000 List Of Most Successful Private Companies

Faith-based investing firm Inspire Investing earned a top-quartile spot on the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies. San Jose, Calif., August 12, 2020 — Inspire Investing, a global leader in the faith-based investing industry, announced that it was featured on the annual Inc. 5000 list, the prestigious ranking of the most successful, fastest-growing […]

Inspire Investing Highlighted for Faith-Based ESG Investing Efforts in US SIF Foundation’s “Rise of ESG in Passive Investments” Report

Inspire Investing was highlighted in the US Sustainable Investment Forum (SIF) Foundation’s report titled, “Rise of ESG in Passive Investments” for their efforts to bring a faith-based approach to environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing. Only eight leading investment firms out of many were selected for special mention case-studies for their work in the growing ESG investing industry.

“We are honored to be highlighted in this industry-leading research study by the US SIF,” stated Robert Netzly, CEO of Inspire Investing. “The US SIF is the leading voice in the secular sustainable investing industry, and their research is a primary source of information for investors around the globe interested in ESG incorporation. We are proud to represent faith-based investors everywhere in this major report.”

About the “Rise of ESG in Passive Investments” Report

The US SIF “Rise of ESG in Passive Investments” report explores the growth of passive ESG investing and the debate on the effectiveness of passive ESG funds versus active ESG funds, as well as the increasing flow of assets to passively managed ESG funds.

A key observation of the report is that the “net flows into passively managed ESG funds outpaced net flows into their actively managed counterparts during the four of the past five years…In 2019, net flows into passive ESG funds totaled $12.7 billion compared to $8.7 billion for active ESG funds.”

Inspire Investing was highlighted as one of eight ESG investment firms chosen as case-studies for their work to combine passive investing and ESG.

The US SIF is a leading voice in sustainable ESG investing and produces some of the most widely followed and influential research in the industry.

About Inspire Investing
Inspire Investing is a leading provider of faith-based ESG investments and creator of the globally recognized Inspire Impact Score™ which is used by investors around the world to measure the biblical alignment of their investments according to Biblically Responsible Investing (BRI) principles. For more information, visit www.inspireinvesting.com.

Inspire Investing Announces Faith-Based ESG Investor Engagement Campaign For 2020

Inspire Investing released the details of their Faith-Based ESG Investor Engagement Campaign for 2020. Fifty-five publicly traded companies were selected for Inspire’s faith-based investor engagement efforts based on specific criterion to help improve their Inspire Impact Score™, a faith-based measure of environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics used by investors around the world to align investment portfolios to support biblical values.

“Our desire is to help companies to connect with and understand the issues that are important to faith-based investors so that they can take proactive steps to improve their Inspire Impact Score and attract interest from the large and growing faith-based investor population,” stated Robert Netzly, CEO of Inspire Investing. “We have worked with many companies over the years to help them better understand the concerns of faith-based investors and are excited to begin efforts with this year’s class.”

Selection Criterion

Fifty-five companies were selected for exhibiting strong scores across several important ESG issues, yet being at risk for having their Inspire Impact Score downgraded due to one specific diversity-related issue unique to each company that was identified within the past year

“These fifty-five companies are doing some great things and excel in numerous ESG categories, but like a color-blind man playing with a Rubix Cube, they are making some unintended mistakes,” commented Netzly. “We want to help these companies excel even more by sharing our unique insight into the faith-based ESG investor population and the issues that are important to this passionate and influential demographic.”

Investors can view Inspire Impact Scores and other ESG data for the selected companies, as well as tens of thousands of stocks, ETFs and mutual funds for free with a simple ticker symbol search at inspireinsight.com.

 Engagement List

The list of companies selected for engagement in Inspire Investing’s Faith-Based ESG Investor Engagement Campaign 2020 are below:

*Note: Inspire and Inspire employees and affiliates may own shares of the below companies in portfolios and funds under management, including third-party and personal investment accounts. This is not an endorsement of, or recommendation to invest in, the companies named herein. Not investment advice.

Click name of company to view Inspire Impact Score data on inspireinsight.com.

AllianceBernstein Holding HomeStreet Inc
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Lenovo
AMC Entertainment Holdings Lionsgate Entertainment Corp
American Electric Power Lowe’s
AMN Healthcare Services Luby’s
ANGI Home Services Lululemon Athletica
Apollo Global Management Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group
Avis Budget Group Monster Beverage Corp
Big Lots Myriad Genetics
BJ’s Restaurants NiSource
Booking Holdings Inc Noble Energy
Burlington Stores Nomura Holdings
Byline Bank Omnicom Group
Cincinnati Bell Pandora
Comerica Incorporated Papa John’s International
Consolidated Edison PDC Energy
Designer Brands People’s United Bank
DocuSign PPL Corp
Dollar General Qurate Retail
Domino’s Pizza Regions Financial Corp
Dunkin’ Brands Sarepta Therapeutics
Fiat Chrysler Spirit Airlines
First Commonwealth Bank Sun Life Financial
Flushing Financial Corporation Syros Pharmaceuticals
Gates Industrial ViaSat
Genesco Waste Management
Georgia Power Company Wolverine World Wide
Groupon  

 

About Inspire Investing

Inspire Investing is a leading provider of faith-based ESG investments and creator of the globally recognized Inspire Impact Score™ which is used by investors around the world to measure the biblical alignment of their investments according to Biblically Responsible Investing (BRI) principles. For more information, visit www.inspireinvesting.com.

Media contact:
Eric Smyth
(831)382-6572
inspire@inspireinvesting.com

Inspire CEO’s Statement On Racial Injustice

As an upper-middle class white male, I have no place speaking about racial injustice. The closest thing to racism I have experienced are Latino people making fun of me within earshot, not realizing that this blue-eyed white-boy is fluent in Spanish. Try as I might to empathize, there is no way I can fully understand the experience of my black fellow Americans.

But, although I have no place speaking about racial injustice, I can and must speak out against racial injustice. Racism in every form is an evil that must be opposed by Christians and all well-meaning people everywhere. Racism is the overflow of a broken, sin-stained world full of broken, sin-stained people. Hatred is a real force in the world, and the people of God must rise up to overcome racism in the love of God, by the blood of Christ, in the power of the Spirit. As a people who worship a Savior who chose to put on brown skin, and lived and died as a colored middle-eastern man, we of all people should live by the truth that all men and women are created in the image of God, and that image is beautiful and demands dignity.

At Inspire Investing, we try to do our part in the fight against racism by advocating for biblical values with corporations around the globe, including the biblical value to “love your neighbor as yourself” no matter their color, and that all people are created in the image of God and deserve dignity and respect. We routinely engage with corporations on issues related to God-honoring diversity practices (which differ in important ways with the world’s practice of diversity) and encourage them to be a blessing to all their employees, customers, communities and the world at large. There is no room for racism in a well-run business.

Racial Justice Investment Screens

Our biblically responsible investing screens have always included diversity issues as an important metric. In our Inspire Impact Score methodology, we reward companies with best in class performance related to God-honoring diversity and penalize companies with below average performance related to diversity. Specifically, our Inspire Impact Score currently considers diversity in the following categories:

  1. Diversity and Opportunity Controversies: Company involved in published diversity and opportunity controversies, such as wage discrimination, promotion and harassment issues;
  2. Human Rights Controversies: Company has been linked to published controversies linked to human rights issues, including supply chain incidents involving contractors and suppliers;
  3. Labor Practices (Best In Class): Company exhibits above average Labor Practices performance relative to their industry peer group. This category considers compliance with fair labor standards for union and non-union employees, including employee retention, education, training, health, safety, compensation, benefits, diversity and mentoring programs;
  4. Social Impact (Best In Class): Company exhibits above average Social Impact performance relative to their industry peer group. This category considers a company’s overall impact on their communities, positive human rights behaviors, philanthropy and charity.

Standing For, Standing Against

We stand together with our black brothers and sisters who are (peacefully) raising their voice for an end to racism in our nation. We also stand together with the (honorable majority) members of law enforcement agencies who daily work to protect the lives and liberties of the black communities in our country.

We stand against those who are attempting to pollute the Black Lives Matter movement with violence and hatred of their own. And we stand against the (dis-honorable minority) members of law enforcement who abuse their power to inflict suffering on the black community. (Note: Let the reader understand that Black Lives Matter as a movement is different from the organization Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, which runs the website blacklivesmatter.com. That BLM organization is heinously wicked and guilty of promoting thoroughly evil ideologies, violence and hatred under the thinly veiled disguise of a “racial justice” organization and is to be opposed.)

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

May the Lord be merciful to our nation and grant us the grace of peace and brotherhood for all. May we as His people be ministers of reconciliation, ushering in the peace of Christ as the Day of His coming draws ever-nearer. Maranatha! Lord Jesus, come!

$100M Ex-Ameriprise Team Says “So Glad” They Joined Inspire Advisors Christian RIA Platform

Father-son $100M team left Ameriprise after 25 years to join Christian RIA firm Inspire Advisors to align their practice with their Christian faith.

San Jose, California, June 2nd, 2020 – Keith and Jacob Chandler, the father-son advisory team now at the helm of Inspire Advisors’ Palmdale, CA office say the Christ-centered culture is a big reason they joined Inspire Advisors a little over a year ago after spending more than 25 years at Ameriprise:

“What we love about Inspire Advisors is that we can now be part of a company that truly reflects our values and mission. We love that we can be part of a team of Christian professionals whose desire is to display excellence in their work and inspire transformation for God’s glory throughout the world. We are so glad that we joined the Inspire Advisors team and are excited to see what the Lord has in store for this business,” says the duo who manage over $100m of assets.

“Welcoming Keith and Jake to the Inspire Advisors family over this past year has truly been a blessing,” commented Robert Netzly, CEO of the Inspire Investing family of companies. “They are consummate professionals and exhibit God-glorifying excellence throughout their practice. We are honored to serve them and their clients as we work together to inspire transformation for God’s glory throughout the world with biblically responsible investing and planning advice.”

Biblically Responsible Investing Focus

The Inspire Advisors platform is purpose built from the ground up to support Christian financial advisors who want to run their practices with 100% biblically responsible investing (BRI) alignment, a growing conviction among financial advisors and their clients.

“When we looked across the RIA marketplace we could not find any national-brand RIA platform that was dedicated to biblically responsible investing,” said Netzly. “That’s a problem that we are solving with Inspire Advisors. There has to be a top-tier RIA firm that is sold out to the advancement of biblically responsible investing and serving the Christian advisors who want to run their practices for the glory of God.”

Financial professionals that join Inspire Advisors have access to Inspire’s deep bench of biblically responsible portfolios delivered in a turn-key, separately managed account (SMA) format, including customizable unified managed account (UMA) and robust tax-loss harvesting capabilities.

There are currently several dozen SMA strategies available to Inspire Advisors recruits and their clients, with strategies ranging from passive, index based portfolios to actively managed, tactical, sector rotation and other strategies. Some strategies are built using Inspire’s popular suite of biblical ETFs, while others are built using only individual stocks and can be customized for individual practices or client needs, giving advisors one of the most robust, widely diversified selection of biblically responsible investing portfolios available anywhere.

Powerhouse Investment Team

Inspire Advisors touts a powerhouse investment team backing up their portfolios that gives financial advisors instant credibility with investors both large and small. Inspire’s investment committee is led by Chief Investment Officer, Darrell Jayroe, CFA, CFP, CKA, who has served in senior portfolio management positions for over 20 years. Inspire’s Chief Economic Advisor, Dr. Erik Davidson, DBA, CFA, previously served as the Chief Investment Officer at Wells Fargo Private Bank overseeing $200 billion in assets and a team of 400 professionals. Inspire Investment Analyst, Shane Enete, CFA, previously oversaw hundreds of billions of institutional assets at firms Meketa and Brandes Investments, and currently shares his time as Professor of Finance at Biola University and heads up Biola University’s Inspire Research Institute for BRI. Such a world-class team provides advisors and their clients with institutional-level portfolio management and expertise to invest with confidence.

Inspire Advisors is a sister company of Inspire Investing, a global leader in the biblically responsible investing industry, and leverages the size and scale of the combined organization. Together, the Inspire family of companies manages over $658M AUM as of May 29th.

Christian financial advisors interested in exploring a relationship with Inspire Advisors can email inspire@inspireadvisors.com or visit www.inspireadvisors.com to learn more.

# # #

About the Inspire Investing family of companies

Founded in 2015 and headquartered in the Silicon Valley of California, Inspire Investing seeks to create meaningful impact in the lives of people across the globe by providing high quality, biblically aligned investments and financial advice that support Christian ministry and is a leading authority in the Biblically Responsible Investing (BRI) movement. For more information, visit www.inspireinvesting.com.

*Disclaimer: Investment advisory services offered through Inspire Advisors, LLC and CWM Advisors, LLC dba Inspire, both being Registered Investment Advisors with the SEC. CWM Advisors, LLC and Inspire Advisors, LLC are affiliates.

Media contact:
Eric Smyth
(831)382-6572
inspire@inspireadvisors.com


 
 
 
 

Christian RIA Inspire Advisors Grew AUM Despite Market Meltdown

Inspire Advisors, the Christian-focused Registered Investment Advisory (RIA) firm, grew assets under management (AUM) despite the COVID-19 selloff in stocks.

San Jose, California, May 18th, 2020 – Inspire Advisors, the Christian-focused RIA platform serving independent Christian financial advisors and their clients, saw total assets under management (AUM) grow during the first part of 2020, despite a steep selloff in stocks.

Inspire Advisors began the year with $152M in total AUM. At the end of March, Inspire Advisors’ AUM was 14% higher at $174M, even after the stock market sold off more than 30%. As the market rebounded throughout April and new advisors and their assets continued to flow onto Inspire Advisors’ biblically responsible platform, AUM continued to climb to $207.9M as of May 18th, 37% higher than the start of the year.

 “We continued to see strong inflows during the market selloff,” commented Robert Netzly, CEO of the Inspire family of companies. “We successfully recruited new advisors and our existing advisors are winning new accounts. The growth and momentum of the biblically responsible investing movement proved to outweigh the COVID-19 driven crisis in terms of net AUM growth in our case. Christian advisors and their clients are hungry for a top-tier firm that is dedicated to biblically responsible investing and planning advice. We are here to serve them, no matter what the market decides to do tomorrow.”

Inspire Advisors is a sister company of Inspire Investing, a global leader in the biblically responsible investing industry, and leverages the size and scale of the combined organization. Together, the Inspire family of companies manages over $612.8M AUM as of May 18th.

Christian financial advisors interested in exploring a relationship with Inspire Advisors can email inspire@inspireadvisors.com or visit www.inspireadvisors.com to learn more.

# # #

About the Inspire Investing family of companies
Founded in 2015 and headquartered in the Silicon Valley of California, Inspire Investing seeks to create meaningful impact in the lives of people across the globe by providing high quality, biblically aligned investments and financial advice that support Christian ministry and is a leading authority in the Biblically Responsible Investing (BRI) movement. For more information, visit www.inspireinvesting.com.

* Disclaimer: Investment advisory services offered through Inspire Advisors, LLC and CWM Advisors, LLC dba Inspire, both being Registered Investment Advisors with the SEC. CWM Advisors, LLC and Inspire Advisors, LLC are affiliates.

Media contact:
Eric Smyth
(831)382-6572
inspire@inspireadvisors.com


 
 
 
 

Amazon.com Board Recommends Vote Against Viewpoint Diversity

In its recently released Notice of 2020 Annual Meeting of Shareholders & Proxy Statement, the Board of Amazon.com recommended that shareholders vote against a shareholder resolution on viewpoint diversity. The Board’s opposition suggests that an intolerant bias is alive and well in the leadership ranks of one of the world’s largest and most influential corporations.

The text of the proposed resolution, officially titled “ITEM 12—Shareholder Proposal Requesting a Report On Viewpoint Discrimination” located on page 41 of the document, states the importance of preventing discrimination based on religious, social or political views. If implemented, it would provide transparency to shareholders on the “range of risks and costs associated with discrimination against different social, political and religious viewpoints”.

The resolution reads as follows:

“Whereas, Shareholders of Amazon.com, Inc. (“Amazon”) invest in the company to receive maximum return on their ownership investment in Amazon, without the costs and risks associated with Amazon restricting specific social, political, or religious views.

Whereas, any decision by Amazon to either endorse or reject social, political, or religious views may alienate customers, harm the company’s reputation, and negatively impact business performance.

Whereas, the City of Seattle, the State of Washington, the United States, and several International Conventions prohibit discrimination against religious groups and beliefs, and the City of Seattle prohibits discrimination against political ideology.

Resolved: Shareholders request that Amazon issue a report, at reasonable cost and omitting proprietary information, evaluating the range of risks and costs associated with discriminating against different social, political, and religious viewpoints.”[1]

Amazon.com has taken great pains to portray themselves as champions of diversity, and have made public statements about their supposed commitment to respecting diverse viewpoints. For example, their website proclaims that  “diversity and inclusion are good for business—and more fundamentally—simply right.”[2]

AMAZON.COM DIVERSITY ONLY SKIN DEEP

This begs the question, if Amazon.com is such a believer in diversity, why would their Board recommend that shareholders vote against a resolution that would provide “a full evaluation of viewpoint bias and associated risks to ensure that Amazon is making balanced decisions and that it is acting consistent with its commitment to diversity?”2

The simple answer is because Amazon’s Board lacks diversity to the point that they cannot even see that a problem exists. On the surface, Amazon’s Board of Directors seems rather diverse: Of the ten Directors, five are women and five are men; there are two people of color; and they each have varied backgrounds in business, academia, law and so forth. However, this appearance of diversity is superficial. A look under the surface into the ideological perspectives of Amazon’s Board reveals a monolithically homogenous worldview committed to advancing a progressive-liberal political and social agenda.

An examination of the personal political contributions of each individual Amazon.com board member tells a striking story. Of all the independent board members who made non-corporate political contributions in the Trump vs. Hillary 2016 election cycle, all of them donated to liberal, Democratic Party candidates, Political Action Committees (PACs) or other liberal political action groups, according to data from campaignmoney.com.[3]

Prominent recipients of donations given personally by Amazon’s Board members included Hillary For America, Hillary Victory Fund, Friends of Schumer, Victory Now PAC, ActBlue, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. No conservative groups. No Republican, Libertarian or Green Party candidates. Just one flavor of super-non-diversity.

AMAZON.COM VIEWPOINT CENSORSHIP

Plainly stated, the current Amazon.com “commitment to diversity” is only a commitment to embracing a progressive-liberal viewpoint about diversity. Conservative, mainstream perspectives are not welcome. Case in point, numerous well-regarded, socially conservative, faith-based non-profits have been officially removed from the “Amazon Smile” charity platform, preventing Amazon.com customers who want to donate to those charities through their Amazon Smile purchases from doing so.[4]

This charity censorship relies upon a list provided by an extremely partisan and discredited non-profit group operating under the misleading name “Southern Poverty Law Center”, or SPLC for short. The SPLC has been under intense fire in recent years as sexual abuse, racism and financial scandal has been exposed at the highest levels of the organization and reported in major media outlets across the nation.[5] Other organizations, such as Twitter,[6] the US Department of Defense, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation,[7] have ended their relationship with the SPLC because of their glaring moral and ethical failures, but not Amazon.com.

SHAREHOLDERS’ RIGHT TO TRANSPARENT REPORTING

Shareholders are not asking Amazon.com to somehow become a stalwart defender of conservative values. All they are requesting is that Amazon.com provide a transparent reporting on its stated commitment to diversity, something that the Board of Directors should be quick to embrace as it is their fiduciary responsibility to ensure the company is living up to its promises.

But, ironically, Amazon’s board is fighting against this resolution for viewpoint diversity put forward by the very shareholders they are supposed to represent.

To be clear, I believe Amazon.com has every right to use their corporate influence to promote whatever agendas they see fit, including progressive liberalism. But don’t try to hide it. If Amazon’s leadership is committed to a progressive-liberal agenda, then shareholders have a right to know about it, as well as the potential risks that position could cause by alienating customers who hold a different view. This is basic corporate responsibility. Denying shareholders material information that can affect their investment is not just bad-form, it is unethical.

Amazon.com shareholders should be pounding the table for access to transparent reporting on Amazon’s performance regarding viewpoint diversity or lack thereof, and the risks associated with that performance. If you are an Amazon.com shareholder, you have the right to cast your vote on “ITEM 12—Shareholder Proposal Requesting a Report On Viewpoint Discrimination,” and I would encourage you to exercise your right, no matter which way you vote.

[1] Amazon.com Notice of 2020 Annual Meeting of Shareholders & Proxy Statement: https://s2.q4cdn.com/299287126/files/doc_financials/2020/ar/updated/2020-Proxy-Statement.pdf

[2] https://www.aboutamazon.com/our-company/our-positions

[3] https://www.campaignmoney.com/

[4] https://www.christianpost.com/news/amazon-removes-conservative-legal-group-charity-smile-program-splc-hate-group-label.html

[5] https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-reckoning-of-morris-dees-and-the-southern-poverty-law-center

[6] https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/op-eds/twitter-dumps-southern-poverty-law-center-stops-making-hate-pay

[7] https://www.christianpost.com/news/amazon-removes-conservative-legal-group-charity-smile-program-splc-hate-group-label.html

Important CARES Act Highlights Investors Should Know About

The CARES Act highlights contain provisions that will affect US businesses and the stock market in a big way, making it important for investors to pay attention and be educated about what is in the CARES Act and what it means for their family and their portfolio. To help shed some light on the CARES Act highlights that investors should know about, Inspire Investing has partnered with our tax advisors at Hayashi and Wayland to provide the following information about the CARES Act. (This information is provided for educational purposes only and should not be considered as tax or investment advice. Please consult your personal tax or investment advisor to discuss your individual situation.)

The $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security “CARES Act” represents the largest economic relief package in American history[1].  The CARES Act contains sweeping provisions that have powerful implications for American families and the US economy at large, both because of the gargantuan amount of money that will be flooding the US economy and also because of certain investment related directives that temporarily change the rules for retirement accounts, charitable giving and more.

The CARES Act was designed to offer assistance to individual taxpayers, business owners, and the entire economy to try to revive itself from the downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the business closures, layoffs and economic suffering that has followed.  This relief plan will offer assistance to tens of millions of American households affected by the coronavirus pandemic. 

We have outlined the CARES Act highlights below: 

INDIVIDUAL PROVISIONS

One-time, non-taxable payments

These payments will be made to taxpayers whose adjusted gross income is under $75,000 (single), $112,500 (head of household) and $150,000 (married). Single or head of household taxpayers will get $1,200.  Married taxpayers will get $2,400.  In addition, for each child 16 years old or younger, you will get an additional $500.  Above these income figures the payment decreases. Single taxpayers earning $99,000 or married taxpayers who have no children and earn $198,000 will not receive any payments.  A family with two children will no longer be eligible for payments if its income surpassed $218,000.  Payments received are not considered taxable income to the recipients.

You will not be able to get a payment if someone claims you as a dependent, even if you are an adult.  In any given family and in most instances, everyone must have a valid Social Security number in order to be eligible.  There is an exception for members of the military.

You can find your adjusted gross income on Line 8b of the 2019 1040 Federal tax return.  And if you already filed your 2019 taxes and provided direct deposit information for a refund, it will be deposited that way into your account.  If you have not filed your 2019 tax return, your 2018 return will be used for determination.  If you would prefer to have your 2019 tax return considered over your 2018 tax return we would recommend that you file 2019 as soon as possible.

If you are ineligible for the payment due to your income being in excess of the limits for 2019, you may benefit once you file your 2020 taxes because the payment is technically an advance on a tax credit that is available for 2020. 

It is not clear yet when and how physical checks will be mailed to those who will require that.  Information from different sources at this time say anytime from the end of April to the end of May.

Retirement Accounts

For the calendar year 2020, no one will be required to take a required minimum distribution from any retirement account. If you are under age 59 ½ and need to make a withdrawal due to the outbreak, the usual 10 percent penalty is waived for distributions up to $100,000 and you are able to spread the income taxes associated with this distribution over 3 years. You can also put the funds back into the account within 3 years even though the amount would exceed normal contribution limits.  These exceptions only apply to coronavirus related withdrawals.

Charitable Contributions

The bill makes a new deduction available for up to $300 of charitable deductions.  All taxpayers can derive benefits from making up to $300 of charitable deductions even if you don’t take an itemized deduction. In addition, there is no cap on the amount of charitable deductions you can take as an itemized deduction for 2020.  

Unemployment Compensation

The Federal Government will provide a temporary Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) through July 31, 2020.  This compensation is $600 per week for any worker eligible for state or federal unemployment compensation benefits. The FPUC would be paid in addition to and at the same time as regular state or federal unemployment benefits. States have the option of providing the entire amount in one payment or sending the extra portion separately, but it must all be done on the same weekly basis.

Mortgages and Foreclosure Actions

Starting March 18, 2020, most mortgages are prohibited from foreclosure actions for 60 days for borrowers who request it and can demonstrate a COVID-19 related hardship.

Eviction Proceedings

Landlords are subject to a 120-day moratorium on filing eviction proceedings for the non-payment of rent.  Unpaid rent will continue to accrue, but landlords may not charge fees or assess fines.

BUSINESS PROVISIONS

Payroll Tax Deferral, Reduction, and Credits

Employers are eligible for a 50 percent refundable payroll tax credit on wages paid up to $10,000 during the crisis. It would be available to employers whose businesses were disrupted due to virus-related shutdowns and firms experiencing a decrease in gross receipts of 50 percent or more when compared to the same quarter last year. The credit is available for employees retained but not currently working due to the crisis for firms with more than 100 employees, and for all employee wages for firms with 100 or fewer employees.

Employer-side Social Security payroll tax payments may be delayed until January 1, 2021, with 50 percent owed on December 31, 2021, and the other half owed on December 31, 2022. 

Paycheck Protection Program

This program administered through the Small Business Administration is meant to help small businesses (fewer than 500 employees) impacted by the pandemic and economic downturn to make payroll and cover other expenses from February 15 to June 30. Notably, small businesses may take out loans up to $10 million—limited to a formula tied to payroll costs—and can cover employees making up to $100,000 per year. Loans may be forgiven if a company uses the loan for payroll, interest payments on mortgages, rent, and utilities and would be reduced proportionally by any reduction in employees retained compared to the prior year and a 25 percent or greater reduction in employee compensation.

Other parts of the wide-sweeping funding bill include:

  • $150 billion for local governments for expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency
  • $8.8 billion in additional funding for Child Nutrition Programs in order to ensure children receive meals while school is not in session
  • $450 million in assistance for banks so they can continue to assist those Americans most in need
  • $30.75 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund for states, school districts and institutions of higher education for costs related to coronavirus
  • $4.3 billion to support federal, state, and local public health agencies to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus, including the purchase of personal protective equipment; laboratory testing to detect positive cases; contact tracing to identify additional cases, and infection control and mitigation at the local level to prevent the spread of the virus
  • $2 billion in direct allocation to state and local Community Development Block Grants that must be allocated within 30 days of enactment of the bill

Who Really Cares?

Because of its size and scope, the CARES Act will likely make an historic, indelible mark upon the US economy and the hundreds of millions of Americans who both power and rely upon that economy. As such, investors should be educated about the highlights of the CARES Act and how it will affect them.

Additionally, as faith-based investors we should remind ourselves that although $2.2 trillion dollars is a staggering amount of money, our hope and trust is not in government stimulus but in the one true God who is sovereign over governments, and who is infinitely more great, powerful and yes, even more caring than the CARES Act.

These are unprecedented times full of uncertainty and trials of many kinds. There are many real reasons to fear and one can hardly be faulted for feeling afraid amidst the swirl of global pandemic. But for anyone finding themselves under a cloud of anxiety, the Bible reminds us to “cast all your anxieties upon Him for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). And when you find yourself worrying about your earthly treasure, Jesus offers a peace that passes all understanding, and an “inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:4-7).

Jesus cares for you. No matter what.

Trust in Him. No matter what.

[1] https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/27/house-passes-2-trillion-coronavirus-stimulus-bill-sends-it-to-trump.html

Where Is God When Stock Markets Crash?

This past Monday, March 9th, 2020, the stock market had its biggest percentage-point drop since the Financial Crisis of 2008, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 7.79% in just one day. In nominal terms, that is a loss of 2,014 points, the Dow’s biggest point drop ever. (Source: Wikipedia)

Furthermore, this historic one-day wipeout of stock market value came on the heels of losses greater than 10% over the previous two weeks, sending markets perilously close to official “bear market” territory, defined as a decline of 20% or more from a previous high.

This kind of market activity has many investors on edge, in a panic, as they recall painful experiences from previous market melt-downs in 2008, 2001 and 1987. And maybe 1933? Is anyone still out there?

But as Christian investors, what should our response be? As a people who have supposedly placed our faith and trust in God, we should be at rest knowing that God is good, He is in control, and we can trust Him- shouldn’t we? Yet we can be just as susceptible to panic and fear as the next investor on the street.

It is precisely at times like these that we need to remind ourselves, from the truth of Scripture, where God is when stock markets (and other things in life) come crashing down.

GOD IS OUR FORTRESS

When we find ourselves infected with fear and panic, Psalm 46 is a strong dose of good medicine,

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.  Selah
 (v. 1-3)

God indeed is our refuge and strength! He protects us, and He also strengthens us. In Him we need no other defense, and in Him the weak are made strong. Are you feeling exposed to danger? God is your refuge. Are you feeling helpless and weak? God is your strength.

REJOICE IN THE RIVER OF LIFE

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.  Selah
 (v. 4-7)

There is a river that makes glad the city of God, the River of Life which runs down from the throne of the Most High. Have you tasted of that River of Life through faith in Jesus Christ? If so, then rejoice and be glad! Your eternal soul is being kept by Him, and you have a portion in the “holy habitation of the Most High.” Nations rage and kingdoms will totter, but the Lord of hosts is with you. The God of Jacob is your fortress.

BEHOLD THE WORKS OF THE LORD

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
‘Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!’
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.  Selah
 (v. 8-11)

Look upon the works of the Lord, and remind yourself of His might and power! He alone has the power over desolations and wars, weapons and warriors. Know that He is a sovereign God, and let that knowledge bring you peace. God will be exalted over all the earth! The Lord is with you, and He is your fortress!

Your investment account may lose value—maybe even a lot of value in times like these. But remember who He is who allows it to happen, who is in control of the ups and downs of the market and your portfolio. Do not put your trust in the provision, but put your trust in the Provider. God does not promise to take care of your investment portfolio, but He does promise to take care of you. And that is really all we need to know.