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. Systematic 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.

“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!

Inspire Investing Meeting Needs Of Guatemalan Villagers During COVID-19 Pandemic

Inspire Investing Meeting Needs Of Guatemalan Villagers During COVID-19 Pandemic

Since 2018, Inspire has partnered with World Help and Hope of Life to adopt an impoverished village in Guatemala. The village of Colonia Tawayni, La Union is located high in the mountainous, remote coffee farming terrain of Guatemala and is accessible only by 4×4 vehicle on a hazardous dirt road. The village of 720 people, 450 of which are children, was in dire need of school and medical clinic repairs, clean water system improvements, and a church building for the recently converted believers to meet in and continue evangelism to their community.

Through investors choosing to invest with Inspire and align their investments with their faith, the project has been able to make rapid progress. The church build is completed, a clean water well established, and the school project is currently underway. However, the COVID-19 pandemic brought the project, and the entire country of Guatemala for that matter, to a screeching halt. The government ordered lockdown is so severe that people are not even permitted to leave their villages to buy desperately needed food and supplies.

Inspire recently received word that Colonia Tawayni had run completely out of food with no means to get more, and people were starving. Thankfully, our ministry partners Hope of Life received permission to take food to the mountain villages, including Colonia Tawayni. The need was so great, however, that even Hope of Life has run out of food to give as their food donation stockpile is being dispersed faster than it is being replenished.

For just $30, World Help is able to purchase, assemble and deliver a food care package that can feed a family of 2 adults and 4 children for 2 weeks (mask included of course, per Guatemala regulations). That means that for $9,600 we can feed the entire village of 160 families for one month.

Thanks to all of the institutions, advisors, and clients that are investing with Inspire, the Inspire Give50program has already been able to provide the entire village with 2 weeks of food to cover their immediate needs. Please be praying that this food gets safely delivered to the village, pray the Lord blankets his peace over these villagers during this frightening time, and pray that the virus subsides so the lockdown can be lifted. If you feel led, you can also donate directly to this food relief effort at this link here. $30 provides one family with food for a month and 100% of the donations are directed to this village through World Help.

How awesome is it that your investment account can be working toward your financial goals while also providing for the immediate needs of others during a desperate time?

Your investment dollars are hard at work!

“When Christian Investors Speak Up”: Inspire CEO Robert Netzly’s Guest Appearance On Faith Driven Investor Podcast

I recently had the pleasure of talking shop on the Faith Driven Investor podcast where we discussed what happens when Christian investors speak up and the influence that we can have for the glory of God when we engage in winsome conversations with the companies we invest in.

You can listen to the entire podcast here. And please feel free to share it on your favorite social media channels and help spread the word about the biblically responsible investing movement!

Listen to the Faith Driven Investor podcast:

No alternative text description for this image

financial obedience is better than sacrifice

Financial Obedience Is Better Than Sacrifice

God doesn’t need your money, but He does command your obedience.

Droves of Christian investors are discovering biblically responsible investing (BRI) for the first time as the BRI movement continues to gain momentum around the country and around the globe. These investors are learning the hard truth that they have been investing God’s money – and it’s all God’s money, right? – into businesses directly profiting from and supporting some of the vilest forms of depravity that the human mind can conjure.

It is currently the norm for the portfolios of millions of Christians around the world to be invested in abortion drug manufacturing, pornography sales, LGBT activism, human trafficking infested supply chains and the list goes on.

And then we give that money to God on Sunday morning and expect that He is pleased with our offering.

Hear me right, my heart bleeds with compassion for my brothers and sisters and echoes the prayer of Christ on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34), because not long ago that was me. I know the sting and sorrow of that conviction personally as it was only by the mercy of God that He caused me to stumble across the ugliness of what I was investing His money in, and what I was profiting from.

The Israelites in the Old Testament had the same problem. Over generations, the covenant people of God had lost their way. For some Israelites, theirs was a deliberately defiant disobedience. They knew the commands of God and they purposefully chose not to obey.

For others, like me and many Christian investors today, they simply were unaware. They had been “conformed to the pattern of the world” (Rom. 12:2) and were ignorant of what God expected of them as His people. Even though these Israelites were still adhering to the sacrificial system of worship with varying degrees of faithfulness, God was not pleased with their sacrifices. They brought their bulls, their rams, their doves and grain, but that wasn’t what God wanted. He wanted their heart and the obedient life that flows from a dedication to loving God above all else.

Hear God’s word to His people through the prophet Samuel, “’Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams’” (1 Samuel 15:22).

The danger for Christian investors wrestling with a newfound conviction over their investments is to seek to justify their investment in companies that profit from pornography (such as Amazon, Netflix, Roku, Dish Network and others), promote abortion (such as Pfizer, Intel, Bank of America and others), and sponsor LGBT activism (such as Wells Fargo, Target, T-Mobile, AT&T and others) by dedicating the returns from these investments as gifts to the Lord.

More than once I have heard well-meaning Christians declare that they have decided to continue to invest in companies involved in immoral activities so that they can give the profits to God. Their logic is that by doing so they are operating like a modern day Robin Hood of Christendom, profiting from the evil and giving to the holy, like some sort of spiritual money laundering scheme.

But there is a problem with this approach: God doesn’t want tainted gifts of sacrifice, He wants holy gifts of obedience. These believers confuse sacrifice with obedience, just as the Israelites did in Samuel’s day.

God makes it very clear He detests money earned from immoral activity and forbids His people from offering such ill-gotten gain to Him saying, “You must not bring the earnings of a female prostitute or of a male prostitute into the house of the LORD your God to pay any vow, because the LORD your God detests them both” (Deuteronomy 23:18). And elsewhere the Bible teaches that it would be better to earn lower returns than to support injustice, “Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice” (Proverbs 16:8).

Brothers and sisters, we must pay very close attention to what God is saying here. He would rather us give Him nothing than give Him an unholy offering. Better yet, God would rather us “learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (Isaiah 1:17) with our finances and with our entire lives, and give Him the fruit of those good works, to the praise of His glorious grace.

It starts by learning what you are actually invested in from a biblical morals perspective, and you can find out for free at inspireinsight.com. Once you discover what issues are lurking in your portfolio, you can prayerfully make the changes necessary to transform your investment account into a God-glorifying financial engine that pursues righteous revenues instead of ill-gotten gain.

Let’s give Him holy gifts of obedience that are as worthy of His holy name as we possibly can by His grace. Such offerings are truly a pleasing aroma to our Lord.


 
 
 
Robert Netzly

Robert Netzly

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

Follow Robert on Twitter and LinkedIn and get inspired!
Twitter
LinkedIn

*Advisory Services are offered through CWM Advisors, LLC dba Inspire, a Registered Investment Adviser with the SEC. All expressions of opinion are subject to change. This article is distributed for educational purposes, and it is not to be construed as an offer, solicitation, recommendation, or endorsement of any particular security, products, or services. Investors should talk to their financial advisor prior to making any investment decision.

Good News of Great Joy

Good News Of Great Joy

How biblically responsible investors are partners in declaring the good news of God’s sovereignty over all creation.

When Christ was born, the angels declared that it was “good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10). What was this good news? “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

Christians today recognize and rejoice in this good news. We certainly count it great joy that God has made a way for the salvation of sinners like us through the death and resurrection of Christ, by grace alone, through faith in Jesus alone. This is very good news!

My question is, if Christ’s birth was “good news of great joy” and if it was “for all the people”, then why were so many people upset about it? Herod wasn’t happy about it. Pharisees, Sadducees and scribes weren’t happy about it. The Roman Empire wasn’t happy about it. Why didn’t the angels declare “good news that some people will count as great joy”? Or, “good news of great joy for those people who believe”?

The answer is that Christ’s birth was truly “good news” and “great joy” because it made a way for salvation for all who would call upon His name. All people now had a way to be at peace with God and receive forgiveness from their sin, even if not all people would embrace or act upon that good news, or celebrate or even appreciate that great joy.

And Christ’s birth was an announcement of “great joy” because it means that we are not abandoned to the hopeless task of ascending to God through perfect holiness because He has descended instead with His perfect holiness to invade our unholy world and offer to us His righteousness in exchange for our sinfulness through faith in His name! “Not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith…” (Philippians 3:9).

The birth of Jesus is good news and great joy because it proclaims the sovereignty of God over all creation, that He is in control, that He cares about us (whether we believe it or not) and that He is living and actively working for His glory and our joy among us on planet Earth.

You see, the goodness and joyfulness of the news of Christ’s coming is not relative based on an individual’s subjective interpretation of the news. The goodness and joyfulness of the news of Christ is an objective fact, an indisputable truth that stands above human opinion.

In a similar way, we all have the opportunity to join in proclaiming this good news of great joy for all the people by making every decision with the glory of God in mind. When we order the actions, intentions and decisions of our life in submission to the will of God and for the glory of God we proclaim that He is sovereign, that He reigns and rules and He alone is worthy of all honor and glory and praise!

Even seemingly innocuous decisions such as choosing which investments to include in your portfolio can and should shout the praises of our God, declaring that Christ has come, the rule and reign of our God extends over all of creation now and forevermore, and that He is worthy of our worship and obedience in every area of the life He has allowed us to live.

Will you celebrate the good news of great joy and make every decision shine for the glory of God, joining with the angels’ song and with believers everywhere, ascribing “glory in the highest” to our Immanuel, God With Us?

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’ “(Luke 2: 13,14)

Shine for Jesus, Christian.


 
 
Robert Netzly

Robert Netzly

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

Follow Robert on Twitter and LinkedIn and get inspired!
Twitter
LinkedIn

*Advisory Services are offered through CWM Advisors, LLC dba Inspire, a Registered Investment Adviser with the SEC. All expressions of opinion are subject to change. This article is distributed for educational purposes, and it is not to be construed as an offer, solicitation, recommendation, or endorsement of any particular security, products, or services. Investors should talk to their financial advisor prior to making any investment decision.

Magnify Messiah

What has God done for you this year?

As Christmas is upon us and year winds to a close, it is proper for us to reflect on the year behind. Often our reflections lead us to major crises that we endured, or possibly narrowly avoided, and hopefully some major accomplishments and joys that we have celebrated. But do our reflections take us deeper than just the “what” and lead us to the “why” and, more importantly, the “Who” that is behind every detail both great and small of our life?

Fleeting sorrow, everlasting joy.

If you are celebrating the joy of a new birth, or a successful year in business, or a breakthrough in your personal life, do you recognize that it is God who has done these things? Moreover, that it is God who has done these things for His glory and your joy? How much greater is our joy when we remember and rejoice in our God, who has blessed us by His grace! How greater is our gratefulness when we realize that our own hands have not done these things, but God’s hands!

If you are suffering the sorrow of a lost loved one, personal or professional failures, or any number of trials and temptations that surround us in this life, do you recognize that it is also God who has allowed these trials and sorrows to come? And that it is He who has sustained you through them and drawn near to you in them as light in the darkness? How great is our joy, even in our sufferings, because of the glorious mercy and comfort of our sustaining Savior! And what confidence we find in knowing that no hardships will ever befall us but that which is allowed by our good Father, who is faithful to also deliver us through and from them!

He who is mighty has done great things!

So, as we reflect on the year past and dream of the year to come, may we magnify our Messiah as did Mary, when caught in a rapture of praise declared,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever” (Luke 1:47-55)

Grace and peace be yours in abundance this Christmas, and joy immeasurable in the year to come as you place all your hopes in our only real Hope, Christ the Lord!

Blessings,

-R


 
 

 

Robert Netzly's speech at VVS18

Reflections On My Speech To The Nation’s Conservative Leaders At Values Voter Summit 2018

LIVE FROM WASHINGTON, D.C.

Last week I had the rare opportunity to speak my mind to the the nation’s faith-based, conservative political leadership from the mainstage at the Values Voter Summit.

VVS is quite the experience. More than one-thousand attendees gathering together to advocate for biblical values in the political arena, rallying under the battle cry of “Faith, Family & Freedom”.

Among the attendees are powerhouse influencers including congressmen and women, high profile media personalities, business leaders and political activists, think tanks, rich folk and PACs. And right alongside these are an even more powerful band of everyday guys and gals who make up the grassroots network of passionate voters dedicated to upholding the righteousness of God in our great nation.

And the speakers are not exactly slouches, either. Among speakers on the day I had my time in the limelight were Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Dr. Ben Carson, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Oliver North, FOX News’ Todd Starnes, Governor Matt Bevin, Representative Mark Meadows, Dr. Sebastian Gorka, David and Jason Benham, Gary Bauer and others.

Let’s just say I was glad that I got to speak first thing in the morning before any of these other guys.

STUMPED SPEECH

So, when you have twenty minutes to say whatever you want to a room full of people like this, not to mention millions of viewers watching live at home, what do you say?

That’s a good question.

In fact, it is such a good question that I spent months trying to find the right answer. Do I talk about politics? Of course I talk about Jesus, but how much? Who are these people, really, and what are they expecting? Does it even matter what they are expecting or who they are? And of course I talk about biblically responsible investing, but from what angle?

As I ruminated, one question rose above all the rest: What does God want me to say to these people? “Must I not take care to speak what the Lord puts in my mouth?” (Numbers 23:12).

While I prayed and sought the Lord’s direction and wisdom, He put three things squarely on my heart:

  1. Proclaim my Gospel;
  2. Humble yourself and exalt me as the source of all your accomplishments;
  3. Be unwavering in your conviction about the necessity to glorify me through biblically responsible investing.

And with that, I began to find the words.

SECRET SERVICING

Having stayed up far too late the night before putting finishing touches on my speech, the time came for me to head backstage and prepare to take the mic.

Because VP Mike Pence and Secretary of State Pompeo were speaking later that day, Secret Service had the entire venue on lock down. It was actually pretty cool. I felt like I was in one of those movies you see about Presidents or whatever, except that it was real.

I even got my own Secret Service detail. How cool is that?

So, my personal Secret Service bodyguard with the tattoo shaped like a rock-n-roll finger “sign of the horns” on the back of his neck and I, met up and he escorted me past the burly looking dudes guarding the big doors heading into the behind the scenes tunnels.

We wound around corners, through concrete walled passages with lots of exposed pipes in the low ceilings, past stoic Secret Service personnel stationed every 50 feet or so. I got stopped halfway through because I had not been given a “G-pin”, which is apparently how Secret Service identifies those people who are supposed to be in the restricted area from those who are not.

We waited together in the passageway while the two agents spoke in cryptic whispers into the hidden microphones in their jacket collars until another agent came through the doors with my magic G-pin.

They instructed me to attach this little piece of metal on my lapel and cautioned me to “make sure that it doesn’t fall off”. Which was a little nerve-wrecking as the pin was rather flimsy and didn’t really have the most secure fastening mechanism.

I envisioned myself flailing my arms passionately in my speech (which I tend to do), the G-pin falling unnoticed to the ground, me returning back to the concrete maze of passageways and being tackled by a rush of Secret Service agents and dragged into custody like some unruly passenger on a United Airlines flight.

Thankfully, my G-pin remained intact and so did my face and FBI profile.

TAKING THE STAGE

Finally it was time to take the stage.

Yes, I was nervous, but not as nervous as I might have been.

Whenever I get the opportunity to speak about God’s glory, my nerves are more of excitement than of fear. That is the one topic that I have such a confidence in, that I know everyone must hear, that is worthy of all my energy and enthusiasm, that fear is replaced with anticipation something like what I expect it feels like preparing for a battle you know you will win.

My name was called, I walked to the stage and stood behind the official Presidential podium (pretty nice podium), gazed into the audience and began to speak.

That’s pretty much all I can remember, other than the glare of the lights that fogged out my glasses the entire time. I remember people clapping and engaging with the powerful stories of the impact that biblically responsible investing is having on corporations big and small.

And I remember the cheers when I announced the new inspireinsight.com web app that we are releasing to give investors unparalleled transparency into the moral issues that exist in their investment portfolios and help them to find God-glorifying alternatives that support biblical values.

My first real memory is being backstage again, finding my way (G-pin attached) through the ant-trail of Secret Service agents and back out into the normal world.

ALL FOR GOD’S GLORY

I will confess that I still haven’t watched the recording of my speech. Maybe I’ll do that tonight. But regardless, my hope is that what comes across is that “whatever you do…do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). I hope that people are not impressed with anything about me, but rather they are amazed at the “hand of my God that was upon me for good” (Nehemiah 2:18).

And I pray that whenever you have a stage to speak on, whether large or small, global, national, local or even across a coffee table, that you use it to proclaim the glory of God to the utmost. I pray that you would declare His Gospel. I pray that you humble yourself and exalt Him as the source of all your accomplishments.

Oh, that the world would “see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Shine with me, together for God’s glory throughout the world!

 

[And here’s my Values Voters speech, in case you have nothing better to do with the next 17 minutes of your life.]

 

Blessings,

-R


 
Robert Netzly, CEO - Inspire Investing, Mainstage Session Speaker at the 2018 Values Voter Summit

Biblically Responsible Investing Expert To Address Nation’s Conservative Leaders at 13th Annual Values Voter Summit

Robert Netzly, CEO of Inspire Investing, to share success stories of his firm’s major shareholder activism victories in support of conservative, biblical values.

Robert Netzly, CEO of Inspire Investing and global thought leader on the biblically responsible investing (BRI) movement, is scheduled to deliver a mainstage speech at this year’s Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. sharing exciting stories regarding victories in his shareholder activism work engaging major corporations to honor conservative, biblical values.

Netzly will educate conservatives about how they can get involved in creating even more change by leveraging the impressive growth of the biblically responsible investing movement in his mainstage speech titled “Glimpses of Victory” at this year’s Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C.

A variety of speakers, including Members of Congress, activists, and key thinkers and leading voices of the conservative movement, have been invited to speak at the Summit which annually draws thousands of grassroots activists from across the country.

Other speakers scheduled to share the mainstage include President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Dr. Ben Carson, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows, former Rep. Dave Weldon, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Oliver North, Dr. Bill Bennett, David Daleiden, Joel Rosenberg, Dana Loesch, along with Tony Perkins, Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips, Dr. Paul McHugh, HHS Civil Rights Division Director Roger Severino, Activist Mommy Elizabeth Johnston, Fox News Radio’s Todd Starnes, Brigitte Gabriel, David and Jason Benham, George Barna, Gary Bauer among many others.

The Values Voter Summit will be held September 21-23 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Values Voter Summit is sponsored by FRC Action, American Values, AFA Action, Christian Healthcare Ministries, Inspire Investing, United In Purpose and Family Research Council. The Heritage Foundation and Patriot Voices are co-sponsors of the event.  An exhibit hall, book signings, radio row, media row, and much more will be packed into this three-day conference.

Pre-registration for media credentials is required. Please contact media@frc.org to obtain credentials.

For a schedule and more information on this year’s Values Voter Summit, please visit: http://www.valuesvotersummit.org/


 
 
tobacco stocks burn

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?


 

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