Inspire Investing rings the New York Stock Exchange closing bell

Inspire Investing Surpasses $200 Million Assets Under Management

Biblically responsible investing (BRI) firm Inspire Investing breaks above $200 million in assets under management on increased buying volumes and positive performance.

San Jose, California, May 23, 2018 – Inspire Investing, the biblically responsible investing (BRI) asset manager that gained prominence last year with the launch of several new investment offerings geared toward serving faith-based investors, just passed a major milestone in the continued growth of their firm.

Positive performance and a surge in buying volumes propelled Inspire above $200 million AUM, just four months after Inspire CEO, Robert Netzly, and his team rang the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange for the second time in less than twelve months. That represents more than a 50% increase in AUM for the faith-based investing firm since the start of this year.

Inspire’s total discretionary assets under management were $207,392,054 as of market close on May 21st.

Growing Awareness For Biblically Responsible Investing

Netzly attributes his firm’s asset growth to an increased awareness among Christian investors of the opportunity to align their investments with their deeply held biblical values, as well as the low cost, index approach to biblically responsible investing that Inspire has championed.

“Christian investors are discovering that they can invest in companies they believe in, inspiring companies that are doing things like working to cure cancer, creating clean water solutions and blessing their employees and communities they operate in, instead of companies like those that manufacture abortion drugs, violate human rights, and exploit their communities. And they don’t have to sacrifice performance to do it.”

Robert Netzly, CEO of Inspire Investing.

Inspire’s Data Driven Approach To Biblically Responsible Investing

At the center of Inspire’s approach to biblically responsible investing is their proprietary Inspire Impact Score methodology. Using a wealth of environmental, social and governance (ESG) data from some of the most respected data providers in the world, Inspire analyzes companies from the bottom-up with a rules based, methodology driven process through the lens of a biblical values worldview.

The result of this objective, data-focused process is an Inspire Impact Score that ranges from -100 to +100, with scores closest to +100 representing greater alignment with biblical values. Inspire invests in those companies closest to +100 and never invests in companies with scores lower than zero in any of their strategies.

“We believe that companies more closely aligned with biblical values represent higher quality investment opportunities, and the number of our strategies outperforming their benchmarks seems to be supportive of that thesis,” says Netzly.

A brief video with more detail about the Inspire Impact Score process and criterion can be found on the company’s website at www.inspireinvesting.com.

Inspiring Transformation Around The World

Not only does Inspire Investing seek to invest in the most inspiring companies in the world, but they also aim to be one of the most inspiring companies in the world. As such, Inspire donates 50% or more of their corporate profits to Christian ministry every year. Last year alone Inspire built a clean water well for impoverished villagers in Nepal, provided relief for Syrian refugees and Hurricane Harvey victims, sent Bibles into North Korea and shared the hope of Christ with thousands of youth in America.

For more information on Inspire Investing, please visit: www.inspireinvesting.com

For media inquiries or interview requests, contact: inspire@inspireinvesting.com

About Inspire Investing

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 low cost, biblically aligned investments that support Christian ministry and is a leading authority in the Biblically Responsible Investing (BRI) movement. For more information, visit www.inspireinvesting.com.

Investors Get Burned By Tobacco Stocks

Tobacco stocks lose big

“Big tobacco” company Philip Morris’ stock recently registered it’s biggest drop in a decade, plummeting 18% on April 19th. The sharp decline came on the back of news that the cigarette giant’s newest ploy to hook another generation on nicotine  — a heat-not-burn tobacco device they call iQor, which heats a tobacco plug instead of lighting it on fire — fell far short of sales projections.

The new iQor product, and several other new attempts at taking tobacco beyond the cigarette, are being brought to market as the smoking industry finds itself struggling to attract new customers…and as their loyal, longtime customers die by the millions due to lung cancer, heart disease and other smoking-induced diseases.

Global smoking statistics are gut-wrenching:

  • Tobacco kills up to half of its users.
  • Tobacco kills more than 7 million people each year. More than 6 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 890 000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
  • Around 80% of the world’s 1.1 billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries
  • (source: World Health Organization )

Investors hooked on tobacco (stocks)

And yet, investors seem to have no qualms about profiting from the death of millions as tobacco stocks remain among the biggest holdings of some of the largest mutual funds and ETFs in the world. A quick survey of the most popular smoke stocks show companies like Vanguard, American Funds, SPDRs/State Street, DFA Funds, T. Rowe Price, TIAA CREF, iShares, Fidelity and others as their biggest investors.

Click below to see a list of the biggest investors in these three tobacco stocks:

Tobacco stocks wise stewardship?

Some investors justify their investment in tobacco companies with the excuse that excluding them from a portfolio might not be “wise stewardship” because their returns might suffer.

I’m sorry, but give me a break.

Since when did “wise stewardship” include profiting from the sale of an intentionally addictive product that kills half the people that use it? Do we really care more about our profits than people?

And for Christian investors, we should be very aware that an investment in tobacco companies runs counter to Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor as yourself”. If you love your neighbor, you don’t sell them cigarettes.

Christians quit tobacco stocks

Thankfully, despite tobacco stocks continuing to be embraced by some of the largest mutual funds, ETFs, pension funds and other investors, there are a growing number of investors who are kicking the tobacco stock habit and creating demand for tobacco-free investments. For example, the biblically responsible investing movement is adding to that trend as more and more Christians are realizing that they can align their investments with their biblical values.

Additionally, research from major universities such as Oxford, Wharton and Biola are finding that investing with a values based approach does not require a sacrifice of performance. And if the recent stock price struggles of big tobacco are any indication, investors might consider making a “wise stewardship” decision and purge their portfolios of tobacco faster than you can strike a match.

Will you kick the habit?

 

 


About the author:

Robert Netzly is the CEO of Inspire Investing, a social enterprise creating meaningful change in the lives of people all over the world by providing low cost, biblically responsible investments easily accessible on the NYSE. Follow Robert on Twitter and LinkedIn and get inspired!

Image result for twitter logo Twitter.com/robertnetzly
Image result for linkedin logo LinkedIn: @Robert_Netzly

 

Inspire team on NYSE bell podium

Ringing The NYSE Closing Bell: One Year Later

Days are long and years are short. It was one year ago today, April 20th, that I pushed the big red button at 4pm Eastern and rang the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange, surrounded by my amazingly talented team at Inspire Investing and our amazingly beautiful wives. It was an experience like no other.

Not only did we ring the closing bell in front of over 100 million viewers worldwide to signal the end of the trading day, but we also rang in a new season for our growing company and the biblically responsible investing (BRI) movement around the globe.

Miraculous Milestones

The days have been long since the clanging of that bell sparked global interest in Inspire’s low cost, index based biblically responsible investing solutions. Our team has been fairly inundated with investor demand from both the retail markets and institutional markets from countries all across the world. We have added new talent to our phenomenal team, attracted capital to fuel our growth and made headlines in hundreds of media outlets around the globe.

But the year has also been short. So much has happened, there have been so many meaningful milestones, and yet it feels like just yesterday when we were standing on that platform above the heart of the world’s financial system, praising God for all to see. Below are just some of the miracles, big and small, that God has blessed us with since we rang the closing bell of the NYSE:

  • Grown assets under management (AUM) to nearly $200 million
  • “Best New ESG ETF – 2017” Award finalists
  • “Best New ETF Issuer – 2017” Award finalists
  • Launched new biblically responsible investing products
  • Earned a place in the portfolios of multi-billion dollar asset management firms
  • Hired several new members to our team of rock-stars
  • Attracted private capital to accelerate growth
  • Featured on FOX News, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Times, Bloomberg and other major global media
  • Rang the NYSE closing bell a second time on January 30th, 2018

And even better than that is the impact that God has allowed us to create:

  • Drilled a clean water well for the entire village of Birendranagar in Nepal
  • Provided relief for hundreds of Syrian refugee families
  • Helped mothers choose life for their unborn babies
  • Gave emergency relief to Hurricane Harvey victims
  • Influenced numerous large corporations to stop supporting unbiblical issues, such as abortion and LGBT activism
  • Helped countless investors align their investments to support biblical values

Only The Beginning

These lists could go on to mention the dozens of encouraging emails we have received from investors all over the world, thanking us for giving them the ability to invest for God’s glory, the numerous “transformation stories” of people’s lives changed through their interaction with our company, financial advisors who have transitioned their entire practice to align with biblically responsible investing, and many more.

We could not have accomplished any of this on our own strength; God has been so gracious to us! We are so thankful for His grace and for the overwhelming support and encouragement from our raving fans around the globe who are cheering us on and inspiring transformation for God’s glory throughout the world by investing with their values.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you. We have only just begun.

Blessings,

-R


About the author:

Robert Netzly is the CEO of Inspire Investing, a social enterprise creating meaningful change in the lives of people all over the world by providing low cost, biblically responsible investments easily accessible on the NYSE. Follow Robert on Twitter and LinkedIn and get inspired!

Image result for twitter logo Twitter.com/robertnetzly
Image result for linkedin logo LinkedIn: @Robert_Netzly

Biblically Responsible Inspire 100 Index Outperforms S&P 500 During Market Selloff

Biblically responsible Inspire 100 Index outperformed and proved less volatile than secular benchmark S&P 500 Index during some of the worst one-day stock drops since 2008.

The biblically responsible Inspire 100 Index outperformed the behemoth US large cap benchmark S&P 500 Index during one of the most tumultuous weeks for stocks since the 2008 crash. This gives credence to the financial merits of the rapidly growing biblically responsible investing movement.

“We are very pleased with the performance of our Inspire 100 Index during this recent market shakeup. To see such reduced volatility in our index when compared with secular benchmarks is a huge win for the biblically responsible investing movement and Christian investors everywhere”

Robert Netzly, CEO of Inspire Investing.

Biblically Responsible index vs. S&P 500 index chart

For the date range marking the top and bottom of the recent stock market decline (Jan. 26 – Feb. 9), the S&P 500 Index fell 7.74% while the Inspire 100 Index was down only 6.94%. This represents a total 0.80% out-performance during the period for the biblically responsible index (illustrated in the chart to the left).

Not only did the Inspire 100 Index experience a smaller total decline, but it also exhibited lower overall volatility with smaller declines than the S&P 500 index on the worst down days when stocks dropped the most.

About The Inspire 100 Index

The Inspire 100 Index tracks the performance of the one-hundred most inspiring, biblically aligned large companies in the United States, as measured by their Inspire Impact Score. The Inspire 100 Index is market-cap weighted, rebalanced annually and is designed to provide a biblically responsible alternative to the S&P 500 and other large-cap US indexes.

Detailed information on the Inspire 100 Index including performance history and holdings, as well as a short video describing the Inspire Impact Score methodology, can be found at www.inspireinvesting.com.

Inspire’s Rapid Growth And Innovative Approach

Inspire investing made headlines across the globe last year with the debut of their innovative approach to biblically responsible investing by giving faith-based investors access to low cost, index-based investments that are aligned with biblical values. Inspire’s assets under management rose by an impressive 154% in 2017 and are currently nearing the $150-million-dollar mark.

Inspire uses their proprietary Inspire Impact Score Methodology to identify the most inspiring, biblically aligned companies in the world to include in their portfolios: companies that are doing things like creating clean water solutions, curing cancer, giving generously to their communities and blessing their workforce. Inspire portfolios also pointedly avoid investing in companies involved with immoral issues such as abortion, pornography, human trafficking, LGBT activism and other areas of concern for faith-based investors.

Inspiring Transformation Around The World

Not only does Inspire Investing seek to invest in the most inspiring companies in the world, but they also aim to be one of the most inspiring companies in the world. As such, Inspire donates 50% or more of their corporate profits to Christian ministry every year. Last year alone Inspire provided clean water to impoverished villagers in Nepal, provided relief for Syrian refugees and Hurricane Harvey victims, sent Bibles into North Korea and shared the hope of Christ with thousands of youth in America.

“Our goal is to donate $1 billion dollars to Christian ministry over the next ten years,” commented Robert Netzly, CEO of Inspire Investing, “That is why we do what we do here at Inspire Investing and we are so thankful for the outpouring of support from our brothers and sisters around the world as we inspire transformation for the glory of God together.”


*Disclaimer: Investment advisory services offered through CWM Advisors, LLC dba Inspire, a Registered Investment Advisor with the SEC. The S&P 500 Index is an unmanaged, market cap weighted index of the 500 largest companies in the United States. You cannot invest directly in an index. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Inspire Investing Named as Finalist for ETF.com Industry Awards

Biblically responsible investing firm Inspire Investing has been named as a finalist in two categories in the 2017 ETF.com awards.

San Jose, CA, February 8, 2018 (Newswire.com)Inspire Investing, a leading biblically responsible investing (BRI) firm, has been named as a finalist in multiple categories for the 2017 ETF.com Awards.

Inspire is a finalist in both the “Best New ESG ETF – 2017” and “New ETF Issuer of the Year – 2017” categories. Winners of these award categories are judged based on criterion such as: contributing to positive investor outcomes, opening new areas of the market, lower costs, driving risk-adjusted performance, providing innovative exposures not previously available to most investors, product performance and fund management.

Other finalists joining Inspire in these categories include: Davis Advisors, iShares (BlackRock), VanEck, GraniteShares, QuantX (Blue Sky Asset Management), Sage Advisory Services and USAA.

“We are honored to be nominated as finalists in two categories for these prestigious awards. This recognition by our industry peers is such a validation for our team here at Inspire that our work is paying off, both in advancing the biblically responsible investing movement and also in providing outstanding investment options for people around the world,” says Robert Netzly, CEO of Inspire Investing.

“We are honored to be nominated as finalists in two categories for these prestigious awards. This recognition by our industry peers is such a validation for our team here at Inspire that our work is paying off, both in advancing the biblically responsible investing movement and also in providing outstanding investment options for people around the world,”

Robert Netzly, CEO of Inspire Investing.

About ETF.com Awards

The ETF.com Awards, presented by ETF.com and Inside ETFs, are the most widely recognized and respected awards for the exchange traded fund industry.

To be recognized as a finalist, investment firms must be selected by the ETF.com Awards Nominating Committee comprised of senior leaders at ETF.com, Inside ETFs and FactSet. There are only a maximum of six finalists nominated per category. The winners are being announced at an exclusive gala dinner on March 22 at Chelsea Piers, Pier 61 in New York.

The Awards Selection Committee who have chosen the winners for this year’s awards are:

  • Kim Arthur, Main Management
  • Eric Balchunas, Bloomberg Intelligence
  • Ben Blaisdell, US Trust
  • Rob Glownia, RiverFront
  • Tom Lydon, ETFtrends
  • Phil Mackintosh, Virtu
  • Tyler Mordy, Forstrong Global Asset Management
  • Jason Nicastro, LPL Financial
  • Todd Rosenbluth, CFRA
  • Jim Wiandt, Industry Expert

Inspire’s Rapid Growth And Innovative Approach

Inspire investing made headlines across the globe last year with the debut of their innovative approach to biblically responsible investing, giving faith based investors access to low cost, index based investments that are aligned with biblical values. Inspire’s assets under management rose by an impressive 154% in 2017, and is currently nearing the $150-million-dollar mark. Inspire uses their proprietary Inspire Impact Score Methodology to identify the most inspiring, biblically aligned companies in the world to include in their portfolios: companies that are doing things like creating clean water solutions, curing cancer, giving generously to their communities and blessing their workforce. Inspire portfolios also pointedly avoid investing in companies involved with immoral issues such as abortion, pornography, human trafficking, LGBT activism and other areas of concern for faith-based investors.

Inspiring Transformation Around The World

Inspire water well in Birendranagar, NepalNot only does Inspire Investing seek to invest in the most inspiring companies in the world, but they also aim to be one of the most inspiring  companies in the world. As such, Inspire donates 50% or more of their corporate profits to Christian ministry every year. Last year alone Inspire provided clean water to impoverished villagers in Nepal, provided relief for Syrian refugees and Hurricane Harvey victims, sent Bibles into North Korea and shared the hope of Christ with thousands of youth in America.

“Our goal is to donate $1 billion dollars to Christian ministry over the next ten years,” commented Robert Netzly, CEO of Inspire Investing, “That is why we do what we do here at Inspire Investing and we are so thankful for the outpouring of support from our brothers and sisters around the world as we inspire transformation for the glory of God together.”

Christian Leaders Descend Upon New York Stock Exchange With Inspire Investing as Biblically Responsible Investing Movement Gathers Steam

More than 100 influential Christian leaders in finance, politics, pro-life and non-profit join Inspire Investing to ring the NYSE closing bell as biblically responsible investing movement sweeps the nation.

​Inspire Investing, a leading biblically responsible investing (BRI) firm, is hosting one of the largest gatherings of Christian leaders ever held at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) as they ring the closing bell today.

The NYSE bell ringing is one of the most-watched daily events in the world, with an estimated 100 million viewers each day. Inspire is leveraging that platform to bring the rapidly growing biblically responsible investing movement to the attention of investors everywhere.

“We have been riding a rocket ship of growth this past year at Inspire and the biblically responsible investing movement is at one of the most exciting points I have ever seen. At today’s bell ringing, we are sharing that excitement with the world and ushering in a new day for the BRI movement,” says Robert Netzly, CEO of Inspire Investing.

We have been riding a rocket ship of growth this past year at Inspire and the biblically responsible investing movement is at one of the most exciting points I have ever seen. At today’s bell ringing, we are sharing that excitement with the world and ushering in a new day for the BRI movement.

ROBERT NETZLY, CEO, INSPIRE INVESTING

Influential Guest List

Among the more than 100 influential Christian leaders joining Inspire at the New York Stock Exchange are pro-life ministry leaders, including Abby Johnson, the former-Planned-Parenthood-director-turned-pro-life who is the founder of And Then There Were None and author of the book “Unplanned.”

Also attending is Rob West, who is the president of Kingdom Advisors, the largest association of Christian financial professionals in the country, and host of “Moneywise,” the popular Christian finance radio show with more than one million daily listeners.

Additional guests include executives from Thrivent, one of the largest Christian financial institutions in the country; the presidents of numerous Christian foundations; several executives from multi-billion dollar investment management firms, and a contingent of bloggers, including “Money Saving Mom” Crystal Paine whose blog has more than one million followers on social media.

All told, the attendees at Inspire Investing’s NYSE bell-ringing event control more than $100 billion of assets.

Inspire’s Rapid Growth and Innovative Approach

Inspire investing made headlines across the globe last year with the debut of their innovative approach to biblically responsible investing, giving faith-based investors access to low-cost, index-based investments that are aligned with biblical values. Inspire’s assets under management rose by an impressive 154 percent in 2017 and are currently nearing the $150 million mark.

Inspire uses their proprietary Inspire Impact Score Methodology to identify the most inspiring, biblically aligned companies in the world to include in their portfolios: companies that are doing things like creating clean water solutions, curing cancer, giving generously to their communities and blessing their workforce. Inspire portfolios also pointedly avoid investing in companies involved with contentious issues such as abortion, pornography, human trafficking, LGBT activism and other areas of concern for faith-based investors.

Inspiring Transformation Around The World

Not only does Inspire Investing seek to invest in the most inspiring companies in the world, but they also aim to beone of the most inspiring companies in the world. As such, Inspire donates 50 percent or more of their corporate profits to Christian ministry every year. Last year alone Inspire provided clean water to impoverished villagers in Nepal, provided relief for Syrian refugees and Hurricane Harvey victims, sent Bibles into North Korea and shared the hope of Christ with thousands of youth in America.

“Our goal is to donate $1 billion dollars to Christian ministry over the next 10 years,” commented Robert Netzly, CEO of Inspire Investing. “That is why we do what we do here at Inspire Investing and we are so thankful for the outpouring of support from our brothers and sisters around the world as we inspire transformation for the glory of God together.”

Why The Wall Street Journal Is Wrong About Socially Responsible Investing

Is Socially Responsible Investing For “Suckers”?

“The basic idea is to throw money away,” declares The Wall Street Journal today in reference to socially responsible investing (SRI). In their article titled “Stocks Weren’t Made For Social Climbing” author Andy Kessler and WSJ make the misguided assertion that anyone who invests with an eye toward corporate responsibility and making the world a better place is a “sucker”. In Kessler’s words,

“Wall Street considers it a truism that money sloshes around the globe seeking the highest return. But there are countless investors, believe it or not, who are willing to accept lower returns. P.T. Barnum supposedly said there’s a sucker born every minute. Many of them go into so-called socially responsible investing…In reality there is no trade-off of Vice vs. Nice. There are only returns.”

I am more than a little surprised at the ignorance of this article, but I suppose it is an opinion piece after all, and hey, everyone is entitled to an opinion…even me! So, here is my opinion then.

Socially Responsible Investing Performance Studies

While Kessler has an entertaining writing style and definitely knows how to turn a phrase, his entire premise is flawed. He makes the rather uninformed statement that responsible investing requires one to sacrifice performance, but he gives no basis for this conclusion.

The facts are that research done over the past several years by the likes of Oxford UniversityWharton University, Biola University and others show that responsible investing did not require a sacrifice of performance in their studies. In fact, some of these studies show that there was actually a slight improvement in performance for responsible investors compared to non-responsible investments.

According to Oxford University’s study with Arabesque Partners, “80 percent of the reviewed studies demonstrate that prudent sustainability practices have a positive influence on investment performance.”

Socially Responsible Investing For More Than Returns

That aside, Kessler has also made himself out to be a hypocrite or a criminal. He proudly asserts that returns are the only thing that matter when selecting an investment, that “there are only returns.” He most certainly doesn’t believe that…unless he is investing in illegal prostitution rings, arms dealers and drug cartels. They make a ton of money, but obviously (I hope) he would never consider investing in such a thing as it is 1) illegal and 2) completely immoral.

So, returns are not the only thing that matter. The law matters, too. And for Christians, God’s law matters even more than the law of man, so how could we possibly invest in companies that are in direct violation of God’s law, even if they did offer tantalizing promises of high returns? “Better is a little with righteousness than great gains with injustice.” (Proverbs 16:8)

Wall Street would goad us to give in to greed and chase high returns above all else. Sadly, there are many who fall prey to that siren’s call. “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” (1 Timothy 6:9)

As for me, there is no return high enough to entice me to invest in immoral industries like abortion, pornography and human trafficking.

Wall Street can keep their profits-at-any-cost approach to investing; I will keep my integrity. And if Oxford University is right, I may end up keeping more money in the long run anyway.

How about you?

PS – You can read the entire Wall Street Journal article here. But your IQ may drop after doing so. Just saying.

Blessings,

-R


About the author:

Robert Netzly is the CEO of Inspire Investing, a social enterprise creating meaningful change in the lives of people all over the world by providing low cost, biblically responsible impact investments easily accessible on the NYSE. Follow Robert on Twitter and LinkedIn and get inspired!

Image result for twitter logo Twitter.com/robertnetzly
Image result for linkedin logo LinkedIn: @Robert_Netzly

Biblically responsible investing in the age of high return, low fee idolatry

Does Your Conscience Have A Price? Biblically Responsible Investing In The Age Of High Return, Low Fee Idolatry.

You probably remember the 1993 movie “Indecent Proposal” even if you never saw it (which I hope is the case…bleh) because of it’s infamous plot line: a billionaire offers a young couple $1,000,000 for one night with the wife. Indecent proposal indeed. The plot is brilliant, even if the movie is not, because it touches a very human issue that we all are confronted with on a daily basis: Does your conscience have a price? In our modern day of finance, where Wall Street calls for high profits and low fees above all else, the Christian investor must seriously consider whether there is a return high enough, or fee low enough, that would entice them to abandon God’s call to biblically responsible investing.

Make good choices

Everyday, moment by moment, we are forced to choose between upholding good ethics and morals, or giving in to the temptations of our more base desires. Sometimes the decision to do the right thing may come almost effortlessly, like opening a door for an old woman, or choosing to pay for your candy bar instead of stealing it away in your pocket. But it wasn’t always that way, was it? There was a time in all our lives (hopefully when we were very young!) when the temptation of the forbidden candy bar held an irresistible allure and we really had to wrestle with ourselves to ensure that candy bar did not end up sneaking out of the store in our little larcenous pocket.

When we were a child, the price of our conscience may have been scant more than a candy bar. But now, as adults, does our conscience still have a price, albeit a much higher one? Put another way, is there some payoff high enough that would cause you to accept an “indecent proposal”? In our best moments, and only by the grace of God, our answer is no. There is no payment high enough, nor penalty great enough, that would cause me to sin against my God. But in our worst moments, the answer unfortunately is yes. And often the price is ridiculously low. The Apostle Paul embodies this struggle as he was led by the Holy Spirit to write,

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing…24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:18-19,24-25)

50 shades of neon

Today, the siren’s call to Christian investors is to join the world and chase high returns and lower fees no matter what. On one hand you have unscrupulous brokers promising sky-high returns with investments in the booming marijuana business, cryptocurrencies (aka. Bitcoin, et al), gold, silver and ocean front property in Arizona. These con jobs are usually pretty easy to spot, especially because the popup ads they use are about 50 different colors of neon and size 3,000 extra-super-bold font. As silly and ridiculous as these gigs are, there are many who fall prey to their allure of greed. I know because some have come seeking my advice after losing their shirts.

But what about other businesses, such as abortion and pornography? If you asked the average Christian investor if they would consider buying into the porn business, they would probably (hopefully!) say no. But, if you asked the average Christian investor if they would consider buying into the porn business for a 100% annual return on their money…well…

I submit to you that this scenario is playing out every single day with Christian investors around the world, except instead of 100% annual returns, Christians are selling out for much, much less. In fact, in some cases they are selling out for less than the price of a candy bar. Allow me to explain.

King Solomon talks biblically responsible investing

Let’s say you have $50,000 to invest. Where will you put it? Many investors, including Christian investors, will end up buying a mutual fund or ETF (exchange traded fund) of some sort. Maybe you would choose the highest performing actively managed fund you can find, or maybe you would focus on investing in the lowest cost index fund available. In either case, you would sensibly be trying to maximize your return (either through stellar investment management or by saving money on fees), but is that a biblical approach? Now, there is nothing wrong with investing in high performing funds, and certainly there is no problem with keeping fees low with index investing (I happen to be a fan), but for the Christian investor there are other — and I dare say more important — issues to consider, namely those of biblical morals.

Hear the words of Solomon, “Better is a little with righteousness than great gains with injustice.”(Proverbs 16:8) In this verse and others like it, the Bible’s clear teaching is that righteousness is more important than financial gain. Biblically responsible investing (BRI) is the practice of making biblical values the first priority in investment decisions as an obedient act of worship for the glory of God. This means aligning your investments with biblical values, avoiding companies involved in immoral businesses like abortion and pornography, and instead choosing investments in companies which are a blessing to their customers, communities, workforce and the world — and then taking into consideration maximizing returns and minimizing expenses within the context of the available, biblically responsible investment options.

The problem is that by and large, Christian investors have gotten this process backward. They heed the advice of Wall Street first and God second. (That is never a good idea, by the way.) They put first priority on finding the highest performing, lowest cost investments without giving thought to the moral concerns of those investments…or if they do consider biblical values it is only as an afterthought and results in a portfolio that might employ a few screens, such as tobacco or alcohol, but falls far short of the standard of diligently stewarding God’s assets in accordance with his values for His glory. We have caved into the demand of this age that we fulfill our “fiduciary duty” to keep fees as low as possible and returns as high as possible, and abandoned our first and eternally more important “stewardship duty” to “honor God with your wealth.”(Proverbs 3:9) We have been “conformed to the pattern of this world”(Romans 12:2) and are bowing down to the idols of low fees and high returns.

And, by the way, just because you put biblical values first does not mean that you must sacrifice returns. Recent research by Wharton School of Business, Oxford University and Biola University all have concluded that employing values based screening like biblically responsible investing does not negatively affect performance…in fact, they find that screening actually can help improve performance. Some critics say biblically responsible investing advocates use the Bible as an excuse for charging higher fees or being lazy about choosing quality investments. I disagree. I think those critics use low fees and the ever-elusive seduction of higher returns as an excuse for their financial idolatry.

Now what about that candy bar?

To make matters worse, the price we have accepted in this compromise of financial idolatry is often pathetically small. Going back to that $50,000 investment you have to make, let’s say that you chose to invest in a very low cost fund that had a total expense ratio of 0.10%. And let’s say that there was an equivalent, biblically responsible investing fund with an expense ratio of 1.00%. That means that you chose to prioritize lower fees above biblical values for a total savings of 0.90% per year. Putting that into dollars, that means that you decided to invest in abortion, pornography, human trafficking and other immoral industries instead of honoring God first for a total annual savings of $450/year ($50,000 x 0.009 = $450). That is just $1.23 per day…the price of a cheap candy bar.

But, you might say, what if I have much more than $50,000 to invest? My savings would be higher than just a candy bar! Yes, this is true. If you have more than $50,000 to invest then your nominal savings goes up some, so maybe your price to sell out on God is a latte per day instead of a candy bar. Or maybe you have millions of dollars to invest and your savings would be measured in thousands of dollars. Maybe you have so much money that your savings would be, oh, let’s say an even $1,000,000. Is that a high enough price for you to accept the “indecent proposal” of Wall Street billionaires?

Wall Street would applaud your “wisdom” as a “good fiduciary”. The Bible would call that idolatry.

Grace, truth and biblically responsible investing

Now, let me be the first to confess that I invested as an idolater for years, never realizing that I was investing in and profiting from the vilest sin and immorality the depraved human mind can conjure. And I want you to know that I have a lot of grace for those still investing the way of the world, because I know that most Christian investors are just like I was, unwittingly investing in atrocities because they have never been taught to think biblically about their investments. And this is exactly what needs to change.

We need to heed the call in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” We need to extend grace to our brothers and sisters who are caught up in the world’s ways, and at the same time we need to understand that ignorance is not an excuse. In the words of the Apostle Paul, we need to:

“…equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”(Ephesians 4:12-16)

And it starts with you. It starts with looking in the mirror of God’s perfect word, submitting to the call to “do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31), including managing your investments, and then making the change to become a biblically responsible investor who puts righteousness and biblical morals in higher preference than fees and performance. And it continues by you doing your part to “equip the saints for the work of ministry” and sharing what you have learned about the importance of being obedient to God with your investment decisions with the other Christians in your life. Will you join us?

Beloved Christian, Wall Street is beckoning you to invest in immoral industries with the ephemeral allure of higher profits and lower fees. What is your answer to Wall Street’s “indecent proposal”?

Blessings,

-R


About the author:

Robert Netzly is the CEO of Inspire Investing, a social enterprise creating meaningful change in the lives of people all over the world by providing low cost, biblically responsible investments easily accessible on the NYSE. Follow Robert on Twitter and LinkedIn and get inspired!

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Get started with Biblically Responsible Investing

How To Get Started With Biblically Responsible Investing

Introduction to Biblically Responsible Investing

There is a movement underway in the world of finance where Christians are investing billions of dollars intentionally to support biblical values for the glory of God, and it is called Biblically Responsible Investing (BRI). More and more Christians are waking up to the opportunity to align their investments with biblical values, as well as discovering the unsettling truth that they have previously been profiting from immoral businesses such as abortion, pornography, human trafficking and other unbiblical practices. The growing demand for biblically responsible investments is changing the landscape of Wall Street and gaining global recognition as a powerful force for positive change for God’s glory throughout the world. However, many Christian investors are at a loss for how to get started with biblically responsible investing, but biblically responsible investing does not have to be complicated. Following is a step by step guide to make it simple and easy to implement biblically responsible investing in your financial life.

Step 1: Discover What You Own From A Biblically Responsible Investing Perspective

The first step in the journey towards biblically responsible investing is to discover the truth about what you own in your investment account. What are the companies that you own in your 401(k), IRA, mutual funds, ETFs and other investments doing to turn a profit? Are they manufacturing abortion drugs, selling pornography, using slave labor in their supply chains? Are they donating money to Planned Parenthood? Lobbying to advance the LGBT agenda? I vividly remember the moment that I discovered the troubling truth of what I was invested in and how shocked I was to find that here I was, the president of our local pro-life pregnancy center, and I also owned stock in 3 companies through my mutual funds that were manufacturing abortion drugs. That means that every time a young woman went to Planned Parenthood and had an abortion, I was profiting from that transaction. That realization changed my life forever, as it has for countless other biblically responsible investors around the world today.

So, how do you go about finding out what the moral value of your portfolio is? It is certainly a daunting task to consider, and quite impossible for the average investor to compile the amount of research necessary to dig into the dirty details of every company in their portfolio. After all, it is hard enough just to read your quarterly statement without going cross eyed, let alone pour through thousands of hard to find data points on thousands of publicly traded companies. The good news is that you don’t have to because there are Christian financial institutions that have robust analytic technology where they plug in your investment ticker symbols and out pops easy to understand reports that show you everything you ever wanted to know (and everything you NEVER wanted to know) about the moral issues in your portfolio.

Are you ready to discover the truth about your investments? Ignorance is certainly not bliss, and I encourage you to take that step and see for yourself what is going on behind closed doors in your portfolio. Here are two places you can go for a free biblically responsible investing report on your investments:

  1. Here at Inspire Investing, we are committed to educating and equipping Christian investors to glorify God with their investments, and as such we provide complimentary Inspire Impact Reports that detail the positive and negative impact of your current portfolio. Just go to the Contact Us page, shoot us an email or give us a call and our service team will get your report emailed over to you, no strings attached. You can also download our free “Inspire Storybook” that explores how we do biblically responsible investing at Inspire.
  2. Christian Wealth Management is a nationwide network of Chrisitan financial advisors from multiple investment firms across the nation who are specially trained in biblically responsible investing. Each CWM member volunteers their services to provide free biblically responsible investing “moral audit” reports to anyone who asks. Visit www.christianwealthmanagement.com to be connected to a Christian financial advisor BRI specialist for complimentary reports and information on biblically responsible investing.

Step 2: Explore Biblically Responsible Investing Options

If you are like me, once you discover the moral issues in your current portfolio you will want to make a change as soon as possible. So, how do you build a biblically responsible investing portfolio? Upon learning about biblically responsible investing, some Christian investors have the concern that it will be difficult to find enough quality biblically responsible investment options to construct an outstanding portfolio that meets their financial goals. But praise God that the fact of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of companies pass even the most stringent biblically responsible investing screening criterion so that there is no shortage of quality companies for biblically responsible investors to allocate capital to. There are also a large and growing number of biblically responsible investing mutual funds, including lower cost ETFs (exchange traded funds) and other professionally managed investment vehicles available for biblically responsible investors and Christian financial advisors to use in their portfolios.

One word of caution: there are many investment funds issued by Christian faith-based organizations that one would assume are managed according to biblically responsible investing guidelines, but in fact do very little (or none) investment screening. Also, not every Christian financial advisor is trained or equipped in biblically responsible investing, so do not just assume because your advisor is a Christian that they are managing your investments according to biblical values. Many Christian advisors, just like Christian investors, still have no idea that there is a major moral dilemma present in the portfolios they manage. As a good steward of God’s investments, be sure to do your homework and check the biblically responsible investing reports on even Christian funds and advisors to make sure you know what you are investing in. You can get these reports for free from Inspire or Christian Wealth Management as mentioned above.

Once you identify your available investment options that meet biblically responsible investing screening criterion, the rest of the investment selection process is exactly the same as building any other portfolio: consider the risks, returns, fees, diversification and other important aspects to build your biblically responsible investing portfolio. If you are a do-it-yourself investor, you can find many helpful resources direct from investment fund providers and third party analysis sites like Morningstar.com. If managing your own investment portfolio is not on your list of favorite things to do, consider working with a Christian financial advisor who is trained in biblically responsible investing, such as members of the Christian Wealth Management network.

Step 3: Start Biblically Responsible Investing And Impact The World For God’s Glory!

After discovering what you own from a biblically responsible investing perspective, and then exploring your biblically responsible investing options, it is time to pull the proverbial trigger and become a biblically responsible investor, joining the growing number of other Christian investors in the biblically responsible investing movement! The BRI movement is an exciting phenomenon that Wall Street is completely unprepared for. I have spoken with thousands of Christian investors and advisors over the past several years and I can attest to the fact that there is an awakening going on where the Holy Spirit is illuminating the importance of investing for God’s glory and placing a passionate conviction in the hearts of His people zealous to honor God in their financial life, just as they do in other areas of life.

God makes it clear in His word, the Holy Bible, that He wants His people to manage His money according to His values for His glory, and our joy. “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) Christians control trillions of dollars in investment assets, and together we can inspire transformation for God’s glory throughout the world by aligning our investments (God’s investments!) with biblical values, sending a powerful message to Wall Street and corporations everywhere that God’s people care about biblical values enough to “put our money where our faith is”.

There are already biblically responsible investing success stories, such as corporations ending their philanthropic support of Planned Parenthood and hotels removing pornography from their televisions, and by the grace of God we will see even more of these inspiring stories unfolding. But, even if nothing changes and corporations continue to go from bad to worse, it is still the biblically responsible investor’s joy to glorify God by honoring His values with His investment assets. One day we will all stand before our Lord and give an account for what we have done with all He has given us during our time on earth. I want to hear the “well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master” regarding every part of my life, including how I managed God’s investments. What about you?

Blessings,

-R


About the author:

Robert Netzly is the CEO of Inspire Investing, a social enterprise creating meaningful change in the lives of people all over the world by providing low cost, biblically responsible impact investments easily accessible on the NYSE. Follow Robert on Twitter and LinkedIn and get inspired!

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Do Not Desire To Be Rich

“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” (1 Timothy 6:9)

How easy it is to desire to be rich. We certainly do not desire to be poor, do we? But here in the scriptures Paul issues a sobering warning to Timothy that those who desire to be rich run afoul with all sorts of disaster. I don’t know about you, but this causes me to pause and examine my heart because “ruin and destruction” are certainly not part of my long term financial goals.

But is wanting to be rich really against biblical teaching? Yes, yes it is. Consider that just a few verses later Paul exhorts Timothy (and all Christians, including you and me) saying, “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things.” (1 Timothy 6:11). God does not want His children chasing after riches any more than a mother wants her child to chase a ball across a busy street. It is not that the object being chased is necessarily wrong, but that the chase will absolutely end in ruin. Take note that Paul is not warning against riches, but rather the desire to be rich.

But isn’t the desire to be rich what drives our entire economic and investment system? Yes, yes it is. This is a problem because it is quite apparent by even the most cursory survey of the culture around us that most people desire to be rich, which means that they are careening headfirst into “many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction”. They are chasing their ball across the autobahn and the resulting carnage is all around us: Broken marriages, corrupt businesses, exploitation of the poor, families left destitute by dad’s (or mom’s) excessive risk taking.

And Christians are just as guilty as everyone else. In fact, many popular “prosperity gospel” preachers actually teach their adherents that they should desire to be rich, and that they should petition God loudly and persistently for material wealth, and that riches are a sign of strong faith. This is pure theological sewage and if someone is trying to feed it to you run away as fast as possible. The prosperity “gospel” is not the gospel at all. It is exactly what Paul describes in our text, a “temptation, a snare” that “plunge people into ruin and destruction”. Flee from it.

And even if you and I are not drinking from the sewer water that so many prosperity preachers are serving up, it is still far too easy in our culture to desire to be rich without even realizing it. How many times have I desired a bigger house, nicer car, expensive clothes, bigger income, lavish vacations, high-performing investments? Or in other words, how often do I desire to be rich? And don’t we see the damage even these “normal” American desires can be? We are tempted to buy as much house as we can qualify for, the nicest car we can finance and the largest credit limit we can get approved for. The result is often disastrous. Lost house. Lost car. Mountains of debt. Ruined life. The desire to be rich is insidious.

So, what are we to do? Thankfully Paul does not leave us hanging, but continues, “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

Ruin and destruction? No thanks. Kill the desire to be rich.

Everything to enjoy? Count me in.

Set your hopes on God. Be rich in good works. Share. Store up eternal treasure in heaven. Take hold of that which is truly life. God help us.

Blessings,

-R


About the author:

Robert Netzly is the CEO of Inspire Investing, a social enterprise creating meaningful change in the lives of people all over the world by providing low cost, biblically responsible impact investments easily accessible on the NYSE. Follow Robert on Twitter and LinkedIn and get inspired!

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