“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:

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Inspire CEO Answers A Reader’s Questions About Biblically Responsible Investing

The Christian Post recently published my article “Financial Obedience Is Better Than Sacrifice“, which deals with the idea that God cares about the morality of the source of the money that we give back to Him as an offering, as taught in scriptures such as Deuteronomy 23:18, and the implications for investors regarding the profits we earn from our investment choices.

In reply to this article, one reader posted a comment under the name “Christian Commenter” and expressed some thoughtful questions that I have found to be very commonplace among believers when first presented with the scriptural teaching around investment stewardship and biblically responsible investing (BRI). I know there are more Christian investors out there with these same questions, so I thought it might be helpful and informative for others who are just starting to explore God’s call to holiness in the area of finances and investing to share this conversation.

Following are “Christian Commenter’s” questions and my own responses. I pray these thoughts help you catch the vision and join the BRI movement along with our Christian brothers and sisters around the globe who are investing billions of dollars of God’s money for God’s glory and their joy in the biblically responsible investing movement.


“Christian Commenter”: While I agree with some aspects of this article, I continued to read with the following question in my mind: What connection does the author have to this topic? Finally, at the end, we see that the author is the CEO of a company that would benefit directly from what he is proposing. That is self-serving and becomes a written advertisement for his company’s services under the guise of a Biblical mandate.

Robert’s Answer: Yes, I certainly have a conflict of interest as I run a biblically responsible investing (BRI) company, and as you mentioned I am not trying to hide that fact in any way. However, I got my start in this industry at Wells Fargo Private Client Services with a rather cushy job serving high net worth families and was completely oblivious to the concept of BRI. It was only after the Lord hit me with a “road to Damascus” moment that I began investing completely according to BRI guidelines – at much personal cost and risk, I might add, as it required me to leave my position and all my income and job security without much to go on but a clear calling and conviction from the Holy Spirit. (You can read about my story here if you want to learn more about my journey). 

I would also add that just because I have a conflict of interest does not mean that the biblical teaching I am sharing is incorrect. Pastors preach the biblical mandate to give money to the work of God, which is clearly a conflict of interest as it benefits them directly, but that pastor is fulfilling his duty to preach faithfully the word of God and the Bible does in fact command us to give joyfully to the church. I would encourage you to examine the scriptures I mention for yourself in relation to investment stewardship and decide if what I am saying has any merit, despite any conflict of interest I might have.

“Christian Commenter”: Beyond that, though, let’s continue with the author’s reasoning and ask him this question: If it is wrong to invest in companies that hold to anti-Christian views, isn’t it just as wrong to work for those companies? Shouldn’t Christians be told not to work for them as well because their wages would be the same as the profits from investments?

Robert’s Answer: Great question! And the answer is “sometimes”. 

Should a Christian invest in a chain of strip clubs? Certainly not. 

Should a Christian work at a strip club? Certainly not. 

Should a Christian invest in an abortion drug manufacturing company? Certainly not. 

Should a Christian work at developing and manufacturing abortion drugs? Certainly not. 

I would hope there is no disagreement on these points. However, what about a more nuanced situation, like should a Christian work in the accounting department at Netflix, even though they sell a lot of pornographic movies? I believe there is no clear scriptural mandate that would prohibit a believer from working there, as long as their work was not directly related to the production or promotion of the “adult entertainment” that is widely available on that streaming service. (For the scriptural basis of this position, please read my discussion below of Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 and 10).

But should a Christian invest in Netflix? Certainly not, because as an investor you are profiting from all of the activities that company is involved with, both good and bad, family friendly and “adult entertainment”, as opposed to an employee who is paid based on a limited scope and responsibility within the company related to their specific job. So, in the case of most businesses, Christians are free to work at those companies so long as their work on the products and services are not entering biblically immoral territory.

“Christian Commenter”: And, if it is wrong to invest in and work for those companies, isn’t it also wrong to purchase those products or services as well since Christians would be using their money to benefit ungodly positions? I’m interested in hearing the author’s position, or anyone else’s, concerning these questions.

Robert’s Answer: As mentioned above, it is not wrong to work at a company as long as your position does not directly involve you in biblically immoral activities. Likewise, Christians are free to be customers of companies such as Netflix, so long as the products and services they are purchasing are not immoral. Keeping with the Netflix example, Christians are free to be paying customers of their movie streaming service if they limit their viewing to good, family friendly content, including the many faith-based Christian films and shows on Netflix, but if they are streaming pornographic content, then clearly they are in the wrong.

In contrast, as an investor you cannot tell Netflix to only send you profits from the good movies and not the bad ones. So if you are an investor in Netflix, you make yourself an accomplice who is sharing in the profits of ungodly, sinful movies that lead people into sin and ensnare them in a wicked bondage to lust and adultery. The Bible clearly condemns profiting from immorality (see Deuteronomy 23:18, Proverbs 16:8 and other scriptures I referenced in the original article), which makes investment in such companies a no-fly zone for Christians.

The Bible Says

A good scriptural framework for this conversation is found in Romans chapter 14 and 1 Corinthians chapters 8 and 10, where Paul discusses the topic of food sacrificed to idols. Paul makes the point in these chapters that believers are free to purchase and eat the meat sold in the marketplace, even thought it was derived from idol sacrifice, “Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do” (1 Cor. 8:8). But at the same time, he denounces idol worship, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons” (1 Cor. 10:21), with the obvious implication that those who are responsible for actually sacrificing the meat to the idol and selling it in the market are involved in a sinful act of idolatry.

Similarly, Christians have liberty to be customers of businesses with murky aspects to them, as long as what they are purchasing does not involve them directly in biblical immorality (as in the case of adult entertainment, abortion, or other inherently sinful products and services). Likewise, it is problematic for a believer to invest in a company that sells immoral products because they are no longer the innocent consumer, but a guilty producer and profiteer of immorality.

Caveat Of Conscience

One additional caveat that Paul addresses in this regard is the issue of personal conscience. He states that even though Christians are free to eat meat sacrificed to idols, he acknowledges that some believers “through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled” (1 Cor. 8:7). For these believers, eating that meat would be a sin, as Paul states in Romans,  “But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23).

With this in mind, we should remember that for various reasons God may place a conviction upon a believer’s conscience that should govern their personal behavior, though that conviction would not extend to all believers in the way that a biblical command would.

For example, a Christian who has a personal history with alcoholism or with alcoholism in their family tree may have a strong conviction not to drink alcohol. They also might have a conviction that they could never work as a waiter who serves alcohol or be employed at a winery, brewery or distillery, or could never invest in a company that derives any revenue from alcohol sales.

That Christian should abide by those convictions, but also acknowledge that their personal convictions do not apply to all believers. And more to Paul’s primary point in the Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 passages, we believers who do not have such convictions should still be mindful of our “weaker” (Paul’s word, not mine) brothers and sisters who do have those convictions and should refrain from any activity that might cause them to stumble on their own personal convictions of conscience, even though we are free. We should never express our Christian liberty in a way that causes others to stumble, “But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Cor. 8:9).

Love Above All

It is for this precise reason that at Inspire we exclude alcohol (for instance) from our portfolios. Personally, I have no problem drinking a beer or a glass of wine or investing money into a winery or craft brewery or something of the sort. However, I know that some of my brothers and sisters for personal reasons mentioned above do not want anything to do with the alcohol industry, and so we remove alcohol from our portfolios, among other things.

But while alcohol is an example of an industry that Christians can be free to invest in, the same cannot be said for other industries which are inherently sinful, such as abortion or pornography. Those areas are not up to individual conscience but rather are expressly prohibited as immoral in God’s word, and as such all believers should take care not to profit from or otherwise be involved with them.

The teaching of the Bible is rich, deep and clear in regard to the expectations God has for believers as stewards of His investment assets. At the same time, much of the depth in that scriptural teaching is aimed at fleshing out the nuance between God’s command and personal conscience. This complexity should not be cause for us to freeze up and disengage, but rather serve as an invitation to lean into God’s truth and learn more of His character, His glory and His plans for your joy as you seek to honor Him in all you do, including how you invest His money. As Paul himself concludes his treatment of this discussion, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).

What's the Purpose Image

What’s the Purpose?

“You, Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you.”

Isaiah 26:3-4

“What’s the purpose?” is one of the most important questions we can ask in life. To this central subject, the Bible provides the answers for us . . . in Matthew 22:37, Jesus says that “the great and first commandment” is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” In Ephesians 2:10, we see that “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works”. While as to what is required of us, Micah 6:8 instructs “but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”.

On this question of purpose, Pastor Rick Warren has taught and written extensively on the importance of living a “purpose-driven life”. His best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life, has sold 32 million copies and been translated into 85 different languages. Millions of lives have been impacted as they have come to more fully understand their life’s purpose in relationship with God. Knowing our purpose is everything.

Just as the question of “What’s the purpose?” is imperative for our life’s journey, it is also critical to our investment journey as well. When investing, there are many important, sensible questions for investors to consider, incl. “What’s the state of the economy?”, “What are the prospects for growth?”, “Is inflation a significant risk?”, “How do valuation levels look?”, “What about global trade?”, “Will the Central Bank be adjusting monetary conditions?”, etc. However, the first and most important question investors need to ask themselves is “What’s the purpose of the investment?”.

Over the course of my career, the biggest mistake I have seen investors make is by not first asking themselves “What’s the purpose of the investment?”. By not asking that question first, oftentimes investors will miscalibrate their investment strategy with their financial objective(s). If the purpose of the investment is for a short term (less than five years) goal such as a planned major purchase or expenditure, then a lower risk strategy, maybe even a “savings” strategy rather than an “investment” strategy is likely the best course of action. However, for those financial goals that are long-term (more than five years) such as young children’s college funds, retirement, a vacation home, estate plans, charitable bequests, etc. a longer term investment strategy is prudent. The other questions about the economic, market, and political environment while important, are all secondary to primary question of the purpose of the investment. Too often, investors make the mistake of focusing their attention on the prospects for the coming days, weeks, and months while their financial goals are oftentimes measured in years, decades, and even generations. This disconnect can lead to dire outcomes.

Knowing our purpose is very important as we go through life. Regularly recalling that purpose can help to guard us against the idols, distractions, and temptations of this world that call out to us every day. Likewise, knowing the purpose of our investments can help to keep us from the behavioral traps and temptations that afflict all investors to one degree or another. Knowing purpose is foundational to faith as well as to investing.


 

 

Dr. Erik Davidson, DBA, CFA

Dr. Erik Davidson, DBA, CFA

Erik Davidson, DBA, CFA, is the Chief Economic Advisor for Inspire Investing. Previously, Dr. Davidson served as the Chief Investment Officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank, overseeing more than $200B in assets. Dr. Davidson holds a doctorate degree from the DePaul University’s Kellstadt Graduate School of Business with his research focus in Behavioral Finance.

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*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.

Another LGBT Fund Fails While Biblically Responsible Investing Grows

This week marks the end of the InsightShares LGBT Employment Equality ETF [ticker: PRID], an investment fund that used the “Corporate Equality Index” score from LGBT activism goliath Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to target investments in companies dedicated to promoting LGBT issues. PRID is the second pro-LGBT investment fund to be shuttered this year, after the ALPS “Workplace Equality” ETF [ticker: EQLT] shutdown on April 26th.

Investors Say No To LGBT Activism

The old saying holds true: money talks. And in this case money is not just talking, it is shouting to us that investors really don’t care to support LGBT activism or invest in companies that take a proactive approach to advancing LGBT issues with their corporate influence.

Supposedly, the American public and particularly the American business and investing community is completely onboard the LGBT activism bandwagon. The media and LGBT lobbyists like Human Rights Campaign tells us so all the time, so it must be true, right? Or perhaps it is just more #fakenews.

To be fair, we must also consider whether PRID failed for reasons other than its stated pro-LGBT mission. But, an investigation into the details of PRID reveal that the performance was actually better than average, beating out SPY (the most popular US large cap S&P 500 ETF) by 1.86% from its first day of trading on January 11, 2018 through November 13, 2019 when PRID closed to new orders. And the 0.65% fund expenses for PRID, though higher than some ETFs, is also well beneath the cost associated with numerous other thematic ETFs that have been successful in raising capital.

Figure 1: PRID vs SPY performance [Source: morningstar.com]

And let’s not forget that PRID was supported and launched by a powerhouse lineup of industry players including UBS Securities, a US division of the $2 trillion Swiss financial megalith; Exchange Traded Concepts, the $2.65 billion firm serving as advisor to PRID; and $4.5 billion subadvisor Vident Investment Advisory, a subsidiary of Vident Financial.

With such enviable backing and quality net-of-fees performance it is somewhat shocking that PRID was only able to attract a paltry $2.7M in assets under management after nearly two years. The abject failure of PRID, and EQLT earlier this year, expose a serious flaw in the basic premise underpinning the efforts and message of the LGBT activism machine: The investing and consuming public are not willing to put their money into action to support LGBT activism.

Any company considering flying a rainbow flag in an effort to attract more customers should think carefully about their decision.

 

Biblically Responsible Investing Continues Growth

Meanwhile, the biblically responsible investing movement (BRI) continues to grow at an exponential rate as Bible-believing Christians have moved billions of dollars into investments that align with biblical values. The Wall Street Journal recently reported in an article titled When God Is Your Portfolio Manager that “biblically responsible investing is booming…as evangelicals and other Christians seek investment management and financial planning to match their interpretation of biblical principles.”

In the same article, John Siverling, executive director of the Christian Investment Forum “estimates that $260 billion is invested according to biblical principles. Of the approximately 90 BRI funds in the U.S., he says, nearly one-quarter were launched since 2015.”

And Rob West, president of Kingdom Advisors, the nation’s largest network of Christian financial professionals and sponsor of the Certified Kingdom Advisor (CKA) designation, reports that their membership has “more than doubled since 2014.”

My own firm, Inspire Investing, has grown from $250M in assets under management to $640M in assets just this year alone, with every dollar being managed from a biblically responsible investing standpoint as we are experiencing first-hand the massive shift underway towards biblically responsible investing.

Data from Pew Research, Economic Policy Institute and the US Census indicates that Christians control approximately two-thirds of the assets in U.S. retirement funds, an eye-popping $21 Trillion dollars. This stat suggests that the BRI movement is just starting to gather steam and that an industry-shaking movement of assets is currently underway.

Biblically Responsible Investing Screening Technology

These biblically responsible investors are using free technology like inspireinsight.com to screen their portfolios and getting rid of investments with exposure to issues like abortion, pornography and, yes, LGBT activism. Instead they are buying stock, mutual funds and ETFs that invest in companies that are aligned with biblical values.

Investors have previously been kept largely in the dark about the moral issues that companies they invest in are involved with. This problem is enhanced for investors in mutual funds and ETFs where there can literally be hundreds of individual stocks in each fund they own, and oftentimes it can be difficult for an individual investor to ascertain what companies their mutual fund owns at any given time, let alone whether or not those companies are involved in issues that violate biblical values.

But now thanks to technology like inspireinsight.com, investors can experience transparency in their portfolios like never before, and get it for free online any time of day or night with a few clicks of a mouse. Simply by entering a ticker symbol, such as VTSAX for the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund, investors concerned with pro-life issues can see that in that one fund alone there are 12 stocks involved with abortion drug manufacturing and embryonic stem cell research, 20 stocks that donate money to abortion related organizations like Planned Parenthood and 21 stocks that are involved in pushing pro-abortion legislation. (Source: inspireinsight.com as of 11/22/2019.)

Loving Our LGBT Neighbors, Not Their Lifestyle

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

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

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

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

What do you think?

Go ye into all the world - Mark 16:15

Go Ye Into All The World

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Mark 16:15

I once heard an interesting observation that many people who live in rural areas can be very afraid of the perceived dangers of a big city…crime, traffic, strangers, etc. And as a corollary to that, many city dwellers can be exceedingly fearful of the risks to be found out in the country…wild animals, getting stranded, isolation, etc. This idiosyncrasy of human behavior is known as “familiarity bias” in that the risks with which we are most familiar appear less threatening to us while those risks with which we are less accustomed can be quite terrifying.

In investments, one of the most well-researched examples of this familiarity heuristic is what is referred to as “home country bias”. Home country bias is the condition by which investors show an excessive preference for investments emanating from their home market over those opportunities found in other parts of the world. With this behavioral predisposition, domestic risks generally seem relatively tame because they are more familiar when compared to those perils coming from overseas which are less well understood. While instinctual, home country bias could cause suboptimal decision-making by investors with possibly detrimental effects on their long-term investment results.

These days in particular, the flames of investors’ home country bias are reasonably being fanned by a litany of worries that are coming from outside our borders…China trade disputes, Brexit, Hong Kong protests, slowing Chinese economy, stagnating European economy, declining Japanese population, Middle East tensions, terrorist threats, etc. Add to that the recent outperformance of the US stock market versus the rest of the world and it is quite understandable that US investors are currently beset by home country bias. However, because of this familiarity bias, investors may be making the behavioral mistake of focusing on the risks of investing internationally while overlooking the opportunities that can be found abroad. Consider the following:

  • 96% of the world’s population is outside the United States.
  • Amidst concerns for the greying US population with a median age of 38.2, the median age for the other 7.2 billion people on our planet is much younger at 29.8.
  • While the US population growth is only 0.8% per year, the population outside the US is growing at 1.1%.
  • 85% of the world’s economic production (Gross Domestic Product) comes from outside the United States.
  • The US may have the world’s largest capital markets, but nevertheless 70% of the world’s securities (stocks and bonds) market value is found outside the United States.
  • The US economy (real GDP) is likely to growing around 2.3% this year, but the overall global economy outside the US will grow about 3.5%
  • The US stock market is near its all-time highs, however International Developed as well as Emerging Market stock market indices are both still 20% below their 2007 all-time highs.
  • While there is growing concern that US stock market valuations (Price/Earnings, Price/Book, etc.) may be getting a little lofty, valuations of International Developed and Emerging Market stock market indices trade at least a 25% discount to their US peers. Relative interest rate differentials make these even more attractive.

Sources: CIA World Factbook, Standard & Poor’s, MSCI, and Factset

While we do not know for sure, it is possible that the Disciples were also wrestling with their own home country bias as they pondered what to do next with their lives as their physical time with Jesus came to an end. Could that be why Jesus had to remind them several times about the importance of venturing into foreign lands? Once, with the Great Commission (Matthew 28, Mark 16, and Luke 24) and again just prior to ascension (Acts 1), we see Jesus’ instruction to go outside of their homeland. Even more so in today’s global society, the Bible’s instruction to go out into the world still applies. And as scary as it can be at times, the admonition probably applies even to investing!

Therefore, getting practical, as a general rule, it makes prudent investment sense to allocate between 25% – 50% of one’s equity exposure to International Developed and Emerging Market stocks. For example, if an investor’s overall portfolio allocation to equities is 60%, then 25% – 50% of that 60% should be allocated to international and emerging market stocks, i.e. 15% – 30% of the entire portfolio.

Go ye therefore into all the world!


 
 
 

 

Dr. Erik Davidson, DBA, CFA

Dr. Erik Davidson, DBA, CFA

Erik Davidson, DBA, CFA, is the Chief Economic Advisor for Inspire Investing. Previously, Dr. Davidson served as the Chief Investment Officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank, overseeing more than $200B in assets. Dr. Davidson holds a doctorate degree from the DePaul University’s Kellstadt Graduate School of Business with his research focus in Behavioral Finance.

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*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.

Blessed are the Risk Takers

“He who watches the wind will fail to sow, and he who observes the clouds will fail to reap.”

Ecclesiastes 11:4

As human beings, our capacity to worry is quite exceptional. In a worldly sense, this predilection towards fear is very understandable as bad things do happen in our lives and in the world around us. In fact, at times our worry has likely kept us from danger or harm. Personally, I know that even as the years have gone by, I have found it very difficult to break the grip of fear in my own life. If anything, I can take some small comfort in the fact that the nature of my worries has changed as time has gone by. These days, I find myself still worrying, but about different things than I did in my earlier years. That probably does not count as progress though!

Given our very human predisposition to worry, it should be no surprise that fears are especially heightened when it comes to investing. In fact, the foundational theory in the area of behavioral economics, Prospect Theory, by Noble laureate Daniel Kahneman (author of Thinking Fast and Slow) and Amos Tversky showed that humans are so overcome by fear that we instinctively weigh loss and gain prospects unevenly thereby causing suboptimal decision-making. Especially in the wake of the trauma of the Financial Crisis of 2007 – 2009, investors are predisposed to see danger lurking around every corner. These days, the list of fears that investors face is quite long: trade disputes with China, Brexit, domestic political divisiveness, Hong Kong protests, inverted yield curves, recessionary concerns, etc.

Nevertheless, despite the enticing self-preservation benefits of fear, the Bible is filled with admonitions against it (Isaiah 41:10, Luke 12:22, etc.) because of the obstructive effect it can have on our God-given destinies. Many times in the Bible, the challenge is put forward to “fear not”. Both the Old and the New Testaments have numerous stories of ordinary people overcoming their fears and taking significant risks with extraordinary, even miraculous results (think Moses, Esther, the Disciples, et al.).

In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25), it is illuminating to read of the master’s praise, “well done, good and faithful servant”, for the two employees who took risks with the funds that had been entrusted to them. Yet, maybe even more instructive is the scorn directed at the servant who was afraid and went and hid the entrusted funds in the ground . . . “You wicked and slothful servant.” and “cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness”. If this isn’t a call to guard our hearts against acting out of fear, I don’t know what is!

Carrying over this Biblical call of risk-taking to investing, it is important for investors to be on guard against getting wrapped around the wheel of whatever the “worry of the day” may be. Rather, investors should undertake prudent risks aligned with the timeframe of their financial objective. Certainly, for short-term (less than five years) financial objectives such as planned major purchases or expenditures, risk-taking should be minimized. Actually, these sort of short-term financial goals are better viewed as “savings” rather than “investment” strategies. However, for those financial goals that are long-term (more than five years) such as young children’s college funds, retirement, a vacation home, estate plans, charitable bequests, etc. a spirit of prudent risk-taking is necessary in order to grow the funds while outpacing inflation and taxes.

The history of the stock market shows the wisdom of the Bible’s guidance on fear and risk-taking. Going back to its inception in 1927, the S&P 500, the benchmark U.S. stock market index, despite dramatic corrections and crashes, has had a total return of approximately 10% annualized. During this very long time period, despite prior generations’ “worry list” including wars, rise/fall of Communism, recessions, famines, assassinations, political discord, etc. there has never been a 14-year holding period in which the total return of the S&P 500 has been negative. Prudent risk-taking pays off over the long-term. Source: Standard & Poor’s

Obviously, “blessed are the risk-takers” is not actually one of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5). Nevertheless, investors who believe that the Bible has wisdom applicable to contemporary life are well advised to consider its guidance as it relates to fear and risk-taking as they make investment decisions.


 
 
 

 

Meet the Biggest Supporter of Planned Parenthood in the S&P 500

Intel Corporation [ticker: INTC] is the largest semiconductor chip manufacturer in the United States (second largest in the world behind #1 Samsung) and ranks number 46th in the 2018 Fortune 500 ranking of largest companies in the United States by revenue.

Intel also holds another dubious claim to fame: they make more large donations to Planned Parenthood than any other company in the S&P 500.

Intel’s Planned Parenthood Donations

According to data sourced by Inspire Insight, Intel has made 72 large donations of $1,000 or more to Planned Parenthood in recent years. These donations were made to regional Planned Parenthood affiliates all over the nation, as well as directly to the “parent” organization, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. And for the record, Intel also made one large donation to Population Connection, a population control advocacy group founded in 1968 as “Zero Population Growth“.

This begs the question. Why?

I reached out to Intel to find out exactly why they decided to financially support an organization that has been the subject of a congressional investigation for the illegal sale of aborted baby parts, been routinely in hot water for questionable medical and business practices, and whose massive abortion cartel business is a flaming touch-point of controversy across the nation and around the world.

Intel’s investor relations department response was…no comment.

Investor Responsibility

There is a growing movement of faith-based investors who are taking their ownership responsibility seriously when they consider whether it is ethically and morally responsible to invest in a company like Intel, who is using their corporate clout to support the abortion industry through donations to organizations like Planned Parenthood. This biblically responsible investing (BRI) movement has gone global and is growing at an exponential rate.

Investors are owners, and owners are responsible for the actions of their companies. Even if those owners are not actively involved in the day-to-day operations of their company, they are still responsible for what it does, how it makes money and how it spends that money. There is a direct ethical and moral connection between an owner and their company that cannot be ignored.

Biblically responsible investors have woken up to this truth and are taking advantage of modern investment toolsproducts and biblically responsible financial advisors that allow them to precision align their investments to support their values — like protecting the unborn — while working toward their financial goals at the same time.

Do You Own Intel Stock?

Some readers might feel relieved after reading this article to look at their investment account statement and see that Intel’s ticker symbol, INTC, is nowhere to be found. However, what these investors may not realize is that if they own any number of the most widely held mutual funds or ETFs in the country (such as those from Vanguard, American Funds and Fidelity), there is a good chance that they do, in fact, own shares of Intel and are partnering with their aggressive funding of Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry.

Government regulations require mutual funds to disclose their holdings on a regular basis, and a quick review of the top ten funds that own Intel stock reveals the following list:

  1. Vanguard Total Stock Market Index ($5.9B owned)
  2. Vanguard 500 Index Fund ($4.2B owned)
  3. American Funds Washington Mutual Fund ($3.4B owned)
  4. SPDR S&P 500 ETF ($2.4B owned)
  5. American Funds Fundamental Investor Fund ($2.1B owned)
  6. Vanguard Institutional Index Fund ($2.02B owned)
  7. Invesco QQQ Trust ETF ($1.94B owned)
  8. American Funds American Balanced Fund ($1.78B owned)
  9. Fidelity 500 Index Fund ($1.69B owned)
  10. iShares Core S&P 500 ETF ($1.54B owned)

(Data as of 6/30/2019. Source: morningstar.com)

Invest Pro-Life

While it can be disheartening to realize that through your IRA, 401(k), mutual funds or other investments, you might actually be partnering with Intel and other large corporations as they enthusiastically support the abortion industry, the good news is that you do not have to be a cog in the wheel of the abortion cartel. You can change the way you invest.

Thanks to new technology that empowers investors with complete transparency in the moral and ethical issues present in their investments, and a growing number of financial professionals specialized in providing biblically responsible investing services, pro-life investors have many options when it comes to aligning their investments in support of the pro-life movement and the protection of pre-born children everywhere.

It all starts with learning about what you own, then making a concerted decision to make a change — both in your portfolio and the world at large.

Will you join us?


 
 

 

Inspire Launches First Ever Biblically Responsible Index in Canada

Inspire Launches First Ever Biblically Responsible Index in Canada

Inspire Investing and Virtuous Investing are proud to bring the first ever biblically responsible index to Canada. The Inspire Canada ESG Index is a faith-based ESG (environmental, social and governance) index comprised of biblically aligned large cap companies domiciled in Canada, as measured by Inspire’s revolutionary Inspire Impact Score methodology.

The responsible investing (RI) movement in Canada is continuing to experience rapid growth according to the 2018 Canadian Responsible Investment Trends Report. RI AUM (assets under management) has surpassed $2 trillion, accounting for 50.6% of Canada’s investment industry, and has grown 41.6% over a two-year period. According to the Pew Research Center and Statistics Canada, there are over 20 million Christians in Canada that currently have no way to invest with biblical values.

Here is what Inspire CEO, Robert Netzly, had to say about the new index launch,

“The launch of the Inspire Canada ESG Index is a testament to the momentum of the biblically responsible investing movement that is exploding across the globe. Christian investors in Canada are asking for solutions to align their portfolios with the biblical values they care about. Now Canadian investors have an index they can reference to construct God honoring portfolios that also work toward their financial goals. God is at work in the financial industry, and He is just getting started!”

Inspire Investing is excited to partner with Brian Hilt of Virtuous Investing to lead the charge of the biblically responsible investing (BRI) movement in Canada.

Here is what Brian Hilt had to say,

“I am excited and grateful for the launch of the Inspire Canada ESG Index and count it a blessing to be at the forefront of the BRI movement in Canada. As a licensee of Inspire’s research methodology, Virtuous Investing is currently one of the only Canadian portfolio managers fully dedicated to BRI portfolio management. This is just the beginning, and we look forward to working with the team at Inspire to provide BRI portfolio management to Christians throughout Canada for years to come.”

About Inspire Canada ESG Index

Inspire Canada ESG Index is a faith-based ESG (environmental, social and governance) index comprised of inspiring, biblically aligned large companies in Canada, as measured by the revolutionary Inspire Impact Score methodology, which measures a company’s positive impact on the world. The index is market cap weighted and reconstituted annually, requiring constituents to have a minimum $20B market cap or higher and be domiciled in Canada. The index is calculated on a total return basis in Canadian dollars and meets biblically responsible investing (BRI) standards.

For more information on the Inspire Canada ESG Index and other Inspire Indexes, visit www.inspireinvesting.com/indexes/.

Rapid Growth

Inspire’s commitment to supporting biblical values such as pro-life, traditional marriage and ending human trafficking with their investment offerings seems to resonate with investors across the globe, now most recently in Canada.

Inspire growth has gained them recognition as the #8 fastest growing registered investment advisor (RIA) firm in the nation in 2018, according to Financial Advisor Magazine’s “Top 50 Fastest Growing RIAs” annual report.

Inspire’s Discretionary Assets Under Management (AUM) has grown 144% so far this year, bringing total assets to $613M as of September 2019.

About Inspire Investing

Inspire Investing is a leading biblically responsible investing firm that specializes in index based, biblically responsible solutions. All solutions utilize the innovative Inspire Impact Score methodology, which measures a company’s positive impact on the world to identify companies that align with the values of faith-based investors.

Inspire also donates 50% or more of their own corporate profits generated from management fees to support impactful ministry projects around the globe. Most recently Inspire adopted a village in the coffee farming mountains of Guatemala and is working to provide a church building, clean water, improved education, a fully functional medical clinic, and child sponsorship to completely transform the lives of the those living in that impoverished village.

Visit www.inspireinvesting.com/impact to learn more about Inspire’s biblically responsible investment products and inspiring impact projects.

You cannot invest directly in an index.

Virtuous Investing is a trade name of Huxton Black Ltd., which is registered as a Portfolio Manager and Exempt Market Dealer with the Ontario Securities Commission. Inspire Investing and Virtuous Investing are not affiliated.


 
 
 

 

Dr. Eric Davidson, DBA, CFA Headshot

Former Wells Fargo CIO, Dr. Erik Davidson, Joins Inspire Investing To Advance Biblically Responsible Investing Movement

The former Chief Investment Officer of Wells Fargo’s Private Bank, Dr. Erik Davidson, is bringing his 20+ years of experience to the biblically responsible investing (BRI) movement. Dr. Davidson is joining Inspire Investing as Chief Economic Advisor and will be working closely with Inspire’s investment committee to provide valuable insight on global, macro-economic events and trends from a biblical perspective.

Dr. Davdison’s particular expertise in the area of behavioral finance will enable Inspire to produce discerning research and data on the intersection of faith, investing and investor behavior and further solidifies Inspire’s position as a leader in the biblically responsible investing movement. Dr. Davidson is scheduled to produce several articles and papers each quarter and will participate in creating economic commentary for investment professionals on Inspire’s quarterly CIO newsletters and portfolio manager calls.

Here is what Erik Davidson had to say about joining Inspire, “I am honored to be an advisor to Inspire Investing and the meaningful work that they are doing for the biblically responsible investment movement. In my role as Chief Economic Advisor I hope to show advisors and investors that aligning investment strategies with their social and spiritual goals, not just their financial goals, can help promote more prudent investor behavior. Therefore, by doing good, investors can do well. I am excited for what God has in store for this next chapter of my career.”

Experience

At Wells Fargo, Dr. Davidson oversaw more than $200 billion in assets for the Private Bank and has co-authored multiple books including “Investing in Separate Accounts” and “The E-Finance Report.” He has authored numerous investment-related articles, speaks at investment-industry conferences, and is regularly featured in the media including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CNBC, Fox Business News, Reuters, and Bloomberg.

Most recently, Dr. Davidson received his doctoral degree from the DePaul University Graduate School of Business with a dissertation in the area of Behavioral Finance.

Leaders in the Biblically Responsible Investing Movement

Inspire CEO, Robert Netzly, had this to say, “Dr. Erik Davidson is an amazing addition to the Inspire team and we are honored to welcome him aboard! Erik’s incredible experience leading one of the nation’s largest investment firms, combined with his heart to honor the Lord with his professional life, make his partnership a huge win for Inspire and the advancement of the biblically responsible investing movement.”

Inspire is a member of the CIF (Christian Investment Forum) which is a Kingdom-focused investment association committed to educating advisors and investors on biblically responsible investing.

Here is what CIF President, John Siverling, said about what this means for the BRI movement, “CIF applauds Dr. Davidson’s decision to join Inspire as Chief Economic Advisor.  His experienced voice will be one more that can credibly speak about the purpose of business, and the economics in investing that align with biblical values, human flourishing, and value creation for stakeholders and shareholders alike.  We look forward to sharing Dr. Davidson’s thoughts with our Christian advisor and investor audience.”

Rapid Growth

Inspire’s commitment to supporting biblical values such as pro-life, traditional marriage and ending human trafficking with their investment offerings seems to resonate with investors across the globe.

Inspire growth has gained them recognition as the #8 fastest growing registered investment advisor (RIA) firm in the nation in 2018, according to Financial Advisor Magazine’s “Top 50 Fastest Growing RIAs” annual report.

Inspire’s Discretionary Assets Under Management (AUM) has grown another 129% so far this year, bringing total assets to $572M as of August 2019.

About Inspire Investing

Inspire Investing is a leading biblically responsible investing firm that specializes in index based, biblically responsible solutions. All solutions utilize the innovative Inspire Impact Score methodology, which measures a company’s positive impact on the world to identify companies that align with the values of faith-based investors.

Inspire also donates 50% or more of their own corporate profits generated from management fees to support impactful ministry projects around the globe. Most recently Inspire adopted a village in the coffee farming mountains of Guatemala and is working to provide a church building, clean water, improved education, a fully functional medical clinic, and child sponsorship to completely transform the lives of the those living in that impoverished village.

Visit www.inspireinvesting.com/impact to learn more about Inspire’s biblically responsible investment products and inspiring impact projects.


 
 
 
 

 

Is Practical Or Biblical More Important In Your Financial Life?

Looking To The Bible

Millions of people look to the Bible for advice on financial matters. And they should. God has provided for us eternal, perfect wisdom through His infallible Word that instructs us in “all things pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3), including wise principles for managing money.

But sometimes I wonder, how many of these people are coming to the Bible just because it is practical? How many financial advisors and how many ministries provide guidance that is only utilitarian in nature, exhorting adherence to biblical truth simply for the utility of the thing?

This is not wrong by itself, and certainly scripture is vastly utilitarian. Indeed, the salvation of my soul is extremely utilitarian! However, if my only concern and motive in believing in Christ is to receive the practical benefit of the salvation of my soul and escape from hell, then it is doubtful that I have ever really been saved at all!

If all my care for the things of God subsist in the practicality of what I receive, and not in the joyful worship and adoration of the “glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6), then my so-called faith is without power to save and I am in danger of hearing those chilling words, “away from me you evil doers, I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23).

Burning With Zeal

And so it is with financial discipleship. It is the glory of God which compels the true believer to apply biblical truth to their financial life, and not simply the utilitarian benefits of a budget, appropriate use of debt, wise saving and investing.

Are we compelled to apply scripture to our finances only for what we receive? Or does our heart burn with zeal for God’s glory and joyfully seek every opportunity to honor Him, whether financially or otherwise, regardless of our personal gain?

This is the great purpose and call for every Christ-following financial advisor, every Christian ministry of money, every Christian with influence over financial decisions: To fire the believer’s heart with a vision of God’s glory in their financial life that compels them to submit to His supremacy in and over their financial matters, completely, joyfully and without reservation. We are to be teaching Christians to rejoice in and worship the Lord through their every financial decision because He is worthy, not because of the worth He can provide.

Oh, God, give us such grace!

Supreme Center

Anything short of this is missing the mark and, while the believer may benefit practically in an earthly manner, they are left spiritually bereft and without eternal significance and blessing. Without the glory of God as the supreme center of our message, we are in perilous danger of teaching our clients and congregations to store up treasure where moth and rust do destroy and thieves do break in and steal, instead of laying up treasure in heaven, leaving them only a pittance at best in their heavenly investment accounts.

Why do you look to the Bible for financial advice?