Pro-LGBT fund failure | Washington Watch with Tony Perkins

LGBT fund shut down, biblical investing soars

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

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

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

But EQLT was a complete failure.

EQLT Failure

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biblically Responsible Investing Success

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

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

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

The Real Picture

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

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

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

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

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

What do you think?


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

Follow Robert on Twitter and LinkedIn and get inspired!

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

 
 

Altum Report: Performance Study of Biblical Values vs S&P 500

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The decision to invest in one place rather than another, in one productive sector rather than another, is always a moral and cultural choice.

– Saint John Paul II, Centesimus Annus 36

 

 

Executive Summary

Christian Principles – The value of integrity

The aim of this report is to show that including Catholic Social Teaching criteria in the selection of investments does not detract from profitability, rather it enhances it. In our case, the ethical criteria we apply when determining our investments are governed by Altum Investment Guidelines based on four pillars:

Pilar 1: Promotion of human life
Pilar 2: Promotion of human dignity
Pilar 3: Promotion of family
Pilar 4: Care and protection of creation

 

In this report, we wanted to work on a real portfolio, that is why we chose the components of the S&P 500 Index as of 1st of January 2019.

The profitability of the portfolio that complies with Altum’s Investment Guidelines is consistently superior to the portfolio whose companies’ conflict with Catholic doctrine. Moreover, the Altum Compliant portfolio has outperformed the Non-Compliant portfolio by 3.18%, 0.94% and 0.19% annualized over the past 3, 5 and 10 years, respectively.

As is often the case in this field of research, we can only draw conclusions but not causality. Do companies perform better by respecting the principles of Catholic teaching or is it respect for Catholic principles that make them better companies?

 

“I will do my best”.

It is undeniable that Socially Responsible Investment is increasingly present in the world of finance and has come to stay.

The preservation of the environment, the reduction of toxic emissions and the preservation of the dignity of workers are very positive criteria and initiatives when making investment decisions. In fact, Christian anthropology has presented these approaches since its beginnings.

For the Christian investor, however, the current approach of Socially Responsible Investment may not be sufficient.

For instance, there are real cases in which a company has a powerful policy to reduce its toxic emissions, impeccable treatment of its stakeholders and an irreproachable history of corruption. At first glance, this company would be perfectly investible. However, would the approach change if this company used human embryos in its R&D department? What if, through its philanthropic activity, this company were funding lobbies that openly support abortion? Would it be consistent with the teaching profession to invest in that company?

St. Augustine said, “God created man so that there would be a beginning” (The City of God XII, 20,4). Discovering new horizons and beginning new things is intrinsic to human beings. In the case of Altum, we seek coherence between the Catholic Teaching and financial investments, and this is the raison d’être of this report: one can invest with integrity and obtain an adequate return. It is a matter of moving from socially responsible investing to faith-consistent investing. The first step towards this objective is not to put ourselves, our fears, in the way, rather we should simply say to ourselves, “I will do my best”.

Methodology

As previously mentioned, the 500 companies composing the Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) as of 1st of January 2019 have been analyzed (see appendix to access the components). This stock market index includes the 500 largest American companies. It is a renowned benchmark index in the world of asset management and is considered the best indicator of large companies in the United States, as it involves 9.9 trillion of dollars of capitalization and covers approximately 80% of its market.

In order to analyze the companies from a Catholic perspective, we have first elaborated the Altum Investment Guidelines, which are based on the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, encyclicals, pastoral letters, doctrinal documents as well as principles of socially responsible investment published by different Episcopal Conferences.

In addition, we have counted on the advice of the Altum Ethical Committee, experts of recognized prestige in the fields of Catholic doctrine, bioethics, Christian anthropology and the environment, for its insights and application to financial investments.

Finally, we apply the Altum Investment Guidelines to each of the companies. In doing so, we access both public and private sources of information, as well as establish direct dialogue with the companies to determine whether or not they comply with the Altum Investment Guidelines.

We are aware that the perfectly ethical and pure company does not exist. It is impossible to control the behaviour of a company’s CEO, its Board of Directors or its employees. However, our actions define us and we can objectively evaluate whether:

To give validity to the analysis we must provide evidence. For this reason, in all cases of non-compliance, we have obtained sufficient evidence to prove this in a specific manner.

As a result of the ethical analysis we created a first classification that generates two portfolios which we will name in the report as follows:

This report is not intended to highlight, discredit or enhance any particular company. Therefore, we have placed special emphasis on the fact that the report is blind, i.e., no component of the S&P 500 can be unambiguously and directly identified throughout the analysis. In any case, should the reader be interested in obtaining information on specific companies, we invite him or her to contact us.

With the purpose of emulating the methodology applied by the S&P 500 index and in order to capture the past performance (backtesting) of each of the portfolios, we have used the objective criterion of assigning each component the same weight in the portfolio with a monthly rebalance.

 

Results

The main thesis of this report is that including ethical and moral criteria related to Catholic doctrine significantly improves the outcome of the investments.

The result is that observing the performance of this universe (which we consider sufficiently representative) in a period of 3, 5, and 10 years (commonly used to represent short, medium and long term horizons), it would always have been more profitable to invest in companies that comply with Catholic teaching than in those that do not comply.

Analysis – Altum Investment Guidelines:

We analyzed the universe of companies from four different perspectives: compliance with Altum Investment Guidelines, market capitalization, Sharpe ratio and GICS classification.

Of the 500 components of the S&P 500, 52.4% (262 entities) comply with the Catholic teaching. The remaining 47.6% (238 companies) fail to meet at least one of the criteria of Catholic doctrine.

Classifying this investment universe according to Altum’s pillars, the aspect where companies fail most is in the promotion of the family (206 companies), followed by the promotion of life  (97 companies), the promotion of human dignity (59 companies) and the care and protection of creation (6 companies).

 

Analysis – Market Capitalization

Once the companies have been classified qualitatively as Altum Compliant / Altum Non-Compliant, we then used quantitative criteria in order to obtain a more in-depth analysis. Specifically, we have divided the S&P 500 components into four large groups according to their size (market capitalisation on 1st of January 2019), which will help us to make a more accurate analysis of the results (refer to table on the right).

 

Following this classification, of the 500 companies of the S&P 500, 94 correspond to Mid Caps, 304 to Large Caps, 82 to Mega Caps and 20 to Giga Caps and the map of the investment universe, in proportions, would look as follows:

One of the keys to this analysis is to understand whether there is a relationship between the size of companies and the number of defaults. To do this, we have made a normal distribution for each of the four groups.

The result is that the larger the size of companies, the greater the number of incompliances per company. It is an intersting fact that all of the 20 Giga Caps are Non-Compliant, where the minimum amount of breaches is 3, the maximum is 7 and the average is 5.8.

Analysis – Performance

When selecting an investment portfolio, it is important to be able to classify the portfolio not only on the basis of ethical compliance, but also on the basis of performance. This is the reason why, we have classified the companies in the following table according to their size, compliance and their performance at 3, 5 and 10 years.

Two conclusions can be drawn from this data:

Analysis – Risk / Return

Looking at absolute profitability is insuffcient for in-depth financial analysis.

This is why we have also studied the relationship between the profitability and risk of each of the two portfolios. To do so, we have used the Sharpe ratio, which allows the investor to measure the return on an investment according to their risk. The higher the Sharpe ratio, the better the return on the risk-adjusted investment. The results for each of the two portfolios are as follows:

The Sharpe ratio by itself does not offer value, but for it to be really useful it must be used by comparing the ratios of different portfolios. Doing this exercise we see that the Sharpe ratios of the Altum Compliant portfolio at 3, 5 and 10 years are always higher than those of the Altum Non-Compliant portfolio, in other words: the Altum Compliant portfolio offers a higher return for the same level of risk than the Altum Non-Compliant portfolio.

Analysis – Classification by sector

It may have been felt that the application of Catholic teaching to investment decisions would imply an excessive sectorial concentration. As presented below, this is false.

We have analyzed both portfolios using the GICS (Global Industry Classification Standard) breakdown commonly accepted by the investment community to determine the productive sector to which a company belongs. The results are as follows:

The Altum Compliant portfolio is consistently more balanced and diversified than the Non-Compiant portfolio. If the average per sector would be 9.09%, the standard deviation of the Non-Compliant portfolio is 42% higher than the Compliant portfolio, indicating a greater dispersion of the portfolio resulting in excessive concentrations (as may be the case of the financial sector, where 20% of the Non-Compliant portfolio is concentrated).

It is worth highlighting a specific aspect: the presence of the Communication Services sector in the Compliant portfolio is practically nil (0.38%). Without looking to causality, from an ethical  standpoint, the companies belonging to this sector are the ones whose non-compliance is mainly related to the promotion of life category, who encourage the pornographic industry and that  lobby against religious freedom (of any creed).

According to the data analyzed, we can draw several conclusions:

Promotion of human life

The following are the results of the analysis of the 500 companies from the point of view of the promotion of human life, from conception to natural death.

Altum Investment Guidelines – Promotion of life:

  • We seek to invest in companies/securities that support policies and initiatives pursuing to protect human life at every stage of its existence, from the moment of conception until natural death.
  • Respect for the life of the unborn: The Fund shall avoid investing in companies/securities involved directly or indirectly in the practice of abortion or manufacturing of abortifacients and/or contraceptives.
  • Protecting from instrumentalization of Procreation: The Fund shall avoid investing in companies/securities involved in embryonic stem cell research, fetal tissue/embryo-derived stem cell research or human cloning.
  • Promoting “culture of life” vs the establishment of the “culture of death” (St John Paul II): The Fund shall avoid investing in companies/securities involved directly or indirectly in the practice of euthanasia, death penalty or involved in the production and sale of indiscriminate weapons or weapons of mass destruction.

While it would be logical to think that in the promotion of life non-compliance comes from some link to the armament world, the data show that non-compliance comes mainly (68%) from having some kind of relationship with the abortion or contraceptive industry.

To highlight a few examples: 

Of the 500 companies, 92 (18.4%) are involved in actively supporting (donations) abortion industry entities whose main activity is the administration of abortifacient drugs, the performance of abortions and/or the promotion of pro-abortion laws at any stage of pregnancy. An example of this type of receiving entity is Planned Parenthood, which statistically accounts for 320,000 deaths per year and has revenues of about $1.5 billion per year. As one of the main recipients of funds from companies in the S&P 500 index and their openly anti-life practices, we recommend the reading of the document that the American Episcopal Conference published in 2017, describing in greater detail the activities of this entity.

A number of 23 companies experiment with tissues obtained from human foetuses that result either in irreparable damage to the foetus or the destruction of the foetus itself.

There are 15 companies that are directly involved in the development of weapons with indiscriminate effects, i.e. weapons that are incapable of distinguishing between civilians and combatants (of which 14 are involved in the manufacture of nuclear weapons).

 

Promotion of human dignity

The following are the results of the analysis carried out from the point of view of the preservation of human dignity at all times.

  • We seek to invest in companies/securities that manifest responsible management practices, behave responsibly towards preserving human dignity and operate with integrity (respect for labour law, no corrupt practices or unfair business practices) in the interaction with its stake-holders (employees, competitors, customers and suppliers).
  • We seek to curb access to pornography: we avoid investing in companies/securities with a significant involvement in producing, directing, publishing, distributing and/or retailing of adult entertainment materials of pornographic nature.
  • We promote man’s freedom from addictions: we positively weigh companies/securities that promote freedom from addictive behaviours, especially those caused by alcohol, tobacco and gambling.
  • We defend religious freedom: we avoid investing in assets from governments or companies who promote or carry out religious persecution against any faith, or deprive people from the right of religious freedom.

Humans are the “only creature on earth which God willed for itself” (Gaudium et spes, 24). This is important to emphasize since the person is not loved for his/her abilities, knowledge or economic situation, but for the simple fact of being a person. The defence of dignity is closely linked to the preservation of freedom, understood as one’s

capacity, in his/her free action, to direct their actions towards Good (Liberatis conscientia, 27).

We can see different examples in the corporate world where the freedom and dignity of man is undermined. From the employment of minors in factories, to not guaranteeing the safety and health of workers or of the consumers themselves. However, it is striking how in the business world there are new ways of attacking freedom, such as seeking to eliminate religious freedom or encouraging addictive behavior in man, with the pornographic industry having a significant weight.

Let’s look at how the S&P 500 companies behave for each of these three big blocks:

Dignity of employees: It is prudent to assume that all S&P500 member companies have thousands of employees on the payroll. This makes it virtually impossible to accurately measure the specific one-to-one behaviour of companies towards their workers or their stakeholders. However, it is possible to measure and evaluate the controversies that these companies may have had regarding the treatment of their workers, which is exactly what we have done.

The dignity of employees is one area of good news in our report: only 2% of the index companies show severe and persistent controversies in terms of specifically violating the rights of their workers and or the use of child labour.

Pornography: 5.6% of the companies in the index are involved in the world of pornography.  Within this percentage, the breakdown of the means used to distribute pornographic material would be as follows: retail market, 32%; film industry, 18%; Internet, 25%; television, 39%. It is perhaps worth reflecting on whether, given the frontal opposition that pornography presents against the Social Doctrine of the Church and its relatively small size within the investment universe … would it not be worth eliminating all traces of pornography in investment portfolios? Particularly if there are alternatives, such as media companies (risk sector for pornography) that do not profit from the pornographic industry or even hotel chains that disassociate themselves from the mass (creative minorities) saying publicly that they eliminate access to pornography from television programming in their rooms.

Religious freedom: 36 companies out of the 500 analyzed (7.2%) have been openly opposed to the freedom of religious worship, of any creed, through their adhesion to different lobbies whose main task is to eliminate conscientious objection for religious reasons. This implies that a doctor cannot object to performing an abortion nor a Catholic priest to marrying people of the same sex.

Taking a phrase repeated on different occasions by Mons. Munilla, Bishop of San Sebastian, “our time is characterized by destroying freedom in the name of freedom”.

Promotion of family

In the following, we present the results of the analysis carried out taking into account the promotion of the family and its value in society.

Altum Investment Guidelines – Promotion of family:

  • We seek to invest in companies or assets that promote and recognise social virtues and the social value of the family.
  • We avoid investing in companies or assets whose actions and practices actively attack the Catholic conception of marriage and family.

One of the main social changes that the Church is pointing out in recent times is the attack on the institution of marriage and family. The doctrinal documents are very numerous and above all, at present, Pope Francis openly denounces when he speaks of the influence that is having the gender ideology which “denies the difference and reciprocity in nature of a man and a woman and envisages a society without sexual differences, thereby eliminating the anthropological basis of the family.” (Amoris Laetitia, 56)

The reasoning behind this statement is that, according to Paolo Donati, the ideology of gender “holds that the family is an institution of the past, and that it is necessary to liberate genders and generations from the bonds of a tradition that is already overcome” (La familia como raíz de la sociedad (“The family as the root of society”), 2013, Madrid, BAC).

39% of the companies in the index are directly related to the promotion and/or sponsorship of initiatives that promote gender ideology and 34.4% support entities that promote gender ideology in multiple ways, assuming that different sexual orientations do not exclude any type of sexual preference (including paedophilia, incest, polygamy or zoophilia).

20.2% of companies are involved in supporting legislative changes contrary to Christian anthropology, such as the colloquially called “Bathroom Bill” in the United States. This law encourages people to use public restrooms based on their biological sex as determined by their birth certificate. Numerous companies (inside and outside the S&P 500) have positioned themselves in favor of eliminating this law on the grounds that regulating the use of public services is discriminatory.

We understand that these concrete practices carried out by the entities analyzed come into conflict  with  the  catholic Magisterium, as Pope  Francis develops in Laudato Si’ (N. 155): “The acceptance of our bodies as God’s gift is vital for welcoming and accepting the entire world as a gift from the Father and our common home, whereas thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation. Learning to accept our body, to care for it and to respect its fullest meaning, is an essential element of any genuine human ecology. Also, valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity is necessary if I am going to be able to recognize myself in an encounter with someone who is different. In this way, we can joyfully accept the specific gifts of another man or woman, the work of God the Creator, and find mutual enrichment. It is not a healthy attitude which would seek “to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it”.”

Care and protection of creation

The fourth and final pillar analyses the activities and behaviour of companies in their relationship with the environment.

Altum Investment Guidelines – Care and protection of creation:

  • We seek to promote, through investment, positive initiatives performed by governments/companies that implement the highest standards in environmental behaviour.
  • We seek to promote, through investment, the implementation of environmental stewardship aimed at preserving the Creation for future generations, valuing practices and actions that promote the reduction of abusive environmental impact.
  • We seek to avoid investing in companies/securities implicated in severe controversies related to their impact or abuse on the environment and natural resources.

As far as this analysis is concerned, a number of points must be borne in mind:

On the one hand, in an index such as the S&P 500, given the size of the companies analysed (let us not forget that they are the leading companies in the USA), all of them large multinationals with entire departments dedicated exclusively to CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), it would be strange to find companies that reliably carry out abusive practices with regard to the environ- ment. However, as we will see below, there are.

On the other hand, carrying out a complete and faithful analysis from the point of view of caring for the environment faces two main obstacles: i) the opacity of companies when it comes to  providing information (as we have experienced at the time of compiling this report) and ii) the inconsistency in the valuation of companies that make rating agencies from an ESG (Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance) point of view. An example of this is that of the 4 agencies that we use for our analysis in ESG aspects, the dispersion of ratings for the same company can be strikingly broad. For example, in the analysis we have seen that for the 500 companies, the average deviation between one agency and another is 2.85 points (on a scale of 1 to 10). In other words, on average, we found differences between the ratings of different agencies for the same company of almost +/- 30%. Below is an example that shows the dispersion of ratings for 100 companies of the S&P 500 taken randomly (rating in base 1 – 10, being 1 the worst rating and 10 the best):

This generates a certain scepticism towards the ratings of third parties and we prefer to analyze companies internally, one by one, to evaluate their compliance with respect to the care and protection of creation.

If the use of rating agencies is a useful tool for our analysis, we must act with caution since the lack of harmonization of criteria can lead to inappropriate decisions. This is the reason we chose not to rely on a 3rd party rating but rather prefer to analyze companies and their respective caseloads one by one.

One of the key aspects in our analysis is to apply the Anglo-Saxon concept of environmental stewardship (co-responsibility with the environment with the aim of preserving it for future generations), since “man, being a person, occupies a central place in the world as “lord and custodian” of nature, having the responsibility to govern it with wisdom, justice and intelligence” (Excmo Rvdmo Mr. Manuel Monteiro, La cuestión ecológica). In other words, the role of man is not that of “absolute and immeasurable master, but of an administrator of the kingdom of God called to continue the work of the Creator” (Saint John Paul II, The Commitment to Avoiding Ecological Catastrophe).

The analysis reflects that 6 companies out of the 500 analyzed have repeatedly and consistently shown abuses and controversies in the care of creation. The most affected sectors are materials and energy, and in terms of size, it is divided equally between Large (2 companies), Mega (2 companies) and Giga (2 companies) sizes. Environmental non-compliant companies were already non-compliant in other sectors, with an average noncompliance score of 4.5 per company.

It is interesting to mention a paradox that currently occurs when talking about ecology in the media. On the one hand, it supports the defense of the environment, animal life, and the atmosphere in order to improve the quality of life. On the other hand, there are environmental movements that promote (and with increasing intensity) that the most effective remedy for preserving the health of the planet is to educate the population so that they have fewer children, using anti-natalist policies based on incentivized or selective abortion, as well as sterilization and the widespread distribution of contraceptives, which are intrinsically contrary to Catholic doctrine.

It is therefore important to bear in mind which elements related to the environment support the man-creation relationship defended by the Catholic teaching and which elements, protected by something positive (concern for the planet, care of animal species, etc.), in reality hide ideologies

 

Conclusion

We have seen in this analysis that applying criteria similar to catholic morality reduces the number of companies that can be invested, but this does not necessarily have to have a negative impact, on the contrary: it is perfectly possible to build a portfolio that complies with catholic doctrine and that not only is also solid and properly diversified, but also when comparing returns over 3, 5 and 10 years against a portfolio that does not incorporate Christian criteria, is consistently more profitable.

We are confident that the analysis and results contained in the report can serve as food for thought. On the one hand for the catholic-sensitive investor, to encourage him/her to become a “creative minority”, to get out of mainstream thinking and discover alternatives that can unite faith and consistency when investing (faith-consistent investing). On the other hand, for the managers and directors of the companies analysed, we are convinced that if this report ever gets into their hands, they will know how to respond and adapt their policies so that under no circumstances will the end justify the means.

 

Borja Barragan Frade
Jaime Barragan Campos

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Notice to any user of this report

This report is issued by Altum Faithful Investing, EAFI, S.L. (Altum).

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 The information contained in this report does not constitute a recommendation, or confirmed offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any financial product or service; and should not be relied upon in connection with any investment decision.

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INFORMATION UP-DATE

 The violations and non-compliances presented within this report are those established by Altum under the Altum Investment Guidelines (https://altumi.com/en/withriteria/) which may differ from your own. If you find any errors or omissions, please report them to Altum. In addition, changes may be periodically made to the information herein; data can also quickly become out-of-date. Altum may, at any time, revise the information on this report without notice and makes no commitment to update this information.

Altum has carried out the ethical and moral analysis following the criteria of the catholic magistery. Please do not hesitate to contact us at info@altum-fi.com should you have any inquiry.

 

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Inspire Investing Welcomes Timothy Plan ETFs To Biblically Responsible Investing Market

Press Release: Biblically Responsible Investing (BRI) market expands as new Timothy Plan ETFs (exchange traded funds) join those from Inspire Investing to broaden options for Christian investors.

The Biblically Responsible Investing (BRI) movement continues its rapid expansion. Demand from Christian investors desiring to align their portfolios to support biblical values has powered asset growth among fund companies and advisory firms focused on providing biblically responsible investment solutions.

Recently, Ambassador Advisors, a $520 million advisory firm serving the Christian investor market, made headlines by converting all of their assets under management to align with biblically responsible investing best practices in recognition that investors want alignment of their investments with their deeply held values and beliefs, and that sound biblical stewardship necessitates integration of biblical values into portfolio design and management.

Additionally, Inspire Investing, a global leader in the biblically responsible investing movement, has increased assets under management from $250 million to over $400 million since the beginning of the year, and was nominated as a finalist for “Best Thematic ETF of the Year” award in the annual ETF.com Awards.

Timothy Plan ETF Launch

And now that growth in demand has prompted yet another increase, this time in the supply side of the market with the launch of new biblically responsible Timothy Plan ETFs.

Timothy Plan is a long-standing leader in the BRI marketplace and offers a fully diversified suite of mutual funds all designed to support biblical values. Now they are joining fellow Christian Investment Forum member, Inspire Investing, as providers of exchange traded funds aligned with those same biblical values.

“We whole-heartedly welcome our friends at Timothy Plan into the biblically responsible ETF market,” says Robert Netzly, CEO of Inspire Investing, “The BRI movement is spreading like wildfire around the globe, and we need more high-quality, innovative, BRI solutions introduced to effectively serve this vast market and truly transform the way every Christian invests around the world for the glory of God.”

How Big Is The Christian Investment Marketplace?

The size of the Christian investment market in the United States is estimated at over $21 trillion, according to research conducted by Inspire Investing. This marketplace includes investors identified by researchers as “Evangelical”, “Catholic” and “Mainline Protestant”, and is based on data sourced from Pew Research, Economic Policy Institute and the US Census.

Notably, this number includes only retirement assets such as 401(k) and IRA accounts, indicating the actual figure could be much higher if non-retirement investment assets were included.

Using the same data set, the total US investor marketplace of retirement assets, including faith-based and non-faith-based investors, is approximately $31.4 trillion dollars in size. Data from the Investment Company Institute’s “2018 Investment Company Fact Book” pegs total US retirement assets at $28.2 trillion at the end of calendar year 2017, adding confidence that these numbers are reliably close.

“The Wall Street establishment has no idea about the size and magnitude of the Christian investor market,” added Netzly, “Most secular firms dismiss Christian investors as an obscure, irrelevant niche population. But the reality is that Christian investors control more than two-thirds of the retirement assets in the United States, and this sleeping giant is beginning to wake up to biblically responsible investing.”


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!

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

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

Biblically Responsible Investing Movement Exploding

The Biblically Responsible Investing (BRI) movement is exploding — in a good way.

Demand from Christian investors desiring to align their portfolios to support biblical values is powering asset growth among fund companies and advisory firms focused on providing biblically responsible investment solutions.

Earlier this year, Ambassador Advisors, a $520 million advisory firm serving the Christian investor market, made headlines by converting all of their assets under management to align with biblically responsible investing best practices, recognizing that investors want alignment between their investments and their deeply held values and beliefs.

As Ambassador Advisors’ Chief Investment Officer, Christopher Coolidge, CFA®, puts it, “We believe you shouldn’t have to compromise performance to live your values. There’s more to making money than just making money. Biblically responsible investing allows Christians to apply their stewardship and the belief that all money is God’s money, not only for budgeting and giving purposes, but all the way through investing and legacy planning.”

My own firm, Inspire Investing, which is entirely dedicated to investing in the most inspiring, biblically aligned companies in the world, has increased assets under management from $250 million to over $400 million since the beginning of the year. We were also nominated as a finalist for “Best Thematic ETF of the Year” award in the annual ETF.com Awards.

God is at work in the hearts and portfolios of His people, and all glory goes to Him.

Timothy Plan ETFs Expand Biblically Responsible Investing Options

And recently that growth in demand has prompted yet another increase, this time in the supply side of the market with the launch of two new biblically responsible Timothy Plan ETFs. Timothy Plan is a long-standing leader in the BRI marketplace and offers a fully diversified suite of mutual funds all designed to support biblical values.

The new Timothy Plan ETFs are welcome additions to the growing lineup of world-class biblically responsible investment options available to Christian investors. The BRI movement is spreading like wildfire around the globe, and we need more high-quality, innovative, BRI solutions introduced to effectively serve this vast market and truly transform the way every Christian invests around the world for the glory of God.

How Big Is The Christian Investment Marketplace?

The size of the Christian investment market in the United States is estimated at over $21 trillion, according to research we have conducted at Inspire Investing. This marketplace includes investors identified by researchers as “Evangelical”, “Catholic” and “Mainline Protestant”, and is based on data sourced from Pew Research, Economic Policy Institute and the US Census.

Notably, this number includes only retirement assets such as 401(k) and IRA accounts, indicating the actual figure could be much higher if non-retirement investment assets were included.

Using the same data set, the total US investor marketplace of retirement assets, including faith-based and non-faith-based investors, is approximately $31.4 trillion dollars in size. Data from the Investment Company Institute’s “2018 Investment Company Fact Book” pegs total US retirement assets at $28.2 trillion at the end of calendar year 2017, adding confidence that these numbers are reliably close.

Sleeping Giant Awakening

The Wall Street establishment has no idea about the size and magnitude of the Christian investor market. Most secular firms dismiss Christian investors as an obscure, irrelevant niche population. But the reality is that Christian investors control more than two-thirds of the retirement assets in the United States, and this sleeping giant is waking up to biblically responsible investing.

Can you imagine the impact we Christians can have if we all just invested our money (God’s money) in alignment with biblical values?

What if we all just stood up and said, “Hey, Wall Street! We’re not going to invest in companies that manufacture abortion drugs, sell pornography, exploit child-slave labor or conduct any other blatantly immoral business practice anymore! We actually believe in the values taught in the Bible and we care about the glory of God, and we want investments that enable us to glorify our God in everything we do!”

Could our voice actually get noticed?

Bringing Down The Wall

The Bible tells the story of Joshua and the battle of Jericho, and how the Lord commanded that after the Israelites had marched around the city seven times, “then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat…” (Joshua 6:5).

It’s time for all of God’s people to shout with a great shout and bring down Wall Street’s “wall” of greed, corruption and immorality and usher in a new culture of investing for the glory of God.

Will you join us?


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!

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

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

Planned Parenthood Supporter PG&E Files Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy Burn

California’s largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday, January 29th. The filing comes as a result of $30 billion dollars in wildfire liability incurred by the company as their equipment ignited at least 17 of the 21 major wildfires that roared through California state in 2017 and 2018.

Last summer, I attended PG&E’s annual shareholder meeting to challenge the executive leadership regarding their philanthropic support of abortion giant, Planned Parenthood. I shot a video on location to recap PG&E’s response.

At the time, PG&E was under intense pressure due to the wildfires which were still burning. PG&E stock had plummeted and the company had eliminated dividend payments to shareholders (many of whom were present at the meeting and expressing their concern due to their reliance on the previously substantial dividend to cover their retirement living expenses).

Given the dire straights of the stock, the mounting liabilities from the fires and the fact that the company had stopped paying dividends to shareholders, my question to the executives was would they also stop donations to Planned Parenthood?

Their answer was, “no” they would continue to donate to Planned Parenthood (despite not being able to pay their investors).

Bad Business

I did my best to point out to the executives how ridiculous that was. Never mind the despicable nature of Planned Parenthood’s abortion business, just from a financial fiduciary standpoint of acting in the best interest of shareholders it makes no sense to pay Planned Parenthood instead of a dividend.

I wasn’t surprised by their answer, however. The staunch persistence of abortion activist executives to advance the abortion issue against all reason or business sense is astounding.

And now they are filing for bankruptcy.

Stark Example

PG&E should serve as a stark example to all investors. If a company is willing to donate shareholder dollars to activist causes like Planned Parenthood, can you really trust them to make ethical, moral or just plain reasonable business decisions? Do you really want to invest money into a company run by people who would rather give the last penny to Planned Parenthood instead of elderly retirees who depend on the dividend to buy groceries?

“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
    and fools hate knowledge?
23 If you turn at my reproof,
behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
    I will make my words known to you.
24 Because I have called and you refused to listen,
    have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
25 because you have ignored all my counsel
    and would have none of my reproof,
26 I also will laugh at your calamity;
    I will mock when terror strikes you,
27 when terror strikes you like a storm
    and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
    when distress and anguish come upon you.” (Proverbs 1:22-27)

As unfortunate as it may be, and although I would never wish such a catastrophe on anyone, PG&E executives might just deserve what’s coming to them as their careers go up in flames. But the investors left holding the bag deserve better than what these executives gave them.

Don’t Date Calamity

So, what about the companies that you own? Are there any “PG&E’s” of a different flavor lurking about in your portfolio waiting to file financial bankruptcy because of their ethically bankrupt decision making? You can find out for free at www.inspireinsight.com if you are curious.

PG&E’s date with calamity is just one more example of why I believe it is best to invest in inspiring, biblically aligned companies with a track record of ethical behavior.

What do you think?


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

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


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

A Biblical Argument for BRI

“A Biblical Argument for BRI” is a paper from the Inspire-Biola Research Institute for Biblically Responsible Investing written by Shane Enete, CFA.  Read the full paper below:  

A Biblical Argument for BRI

By Shane Enete, CFA

Assistant Professor of Finance, Biola University
In the beginning, God’s commandment for us is to work and watch over the land (Genesis 2:15).

While our culture has excelled at becoming more productive in our “working of the land” through modern portfolio theory and passive investing, we have gradually gotten worse at fulfilling the second part of God’s commandment, namely, to “watch over” the very land that we are working.

Christian investors can respond to this weakened ability to watch over the land by moving towards Biblically Responsible Investing (BRI).

In the beginning, “the LORD God took man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it.” (Genesis 2:15, NLT, emphasis added) This is a Biblical framework for how investing should be. 

To “work the land” effectively means to enable it to produce fruit. 

To “watch over the land” effectively means to enable the garden to flourish in the midst of its fruit production. 

Since Christian investors do not necessarily find themselves with hands full of dirt as they work and watch over our world, does this mean this early job description from the Lord does not apply to a Christian investor today? How could working and watching over the land be done well for a Christian investor today?

The Biblical Argument For BRI

Work The Land

Over the last 400 years, a few key financial ideas have enabled an abundant working of the land.

For this paper, I am going to highlight three such financial ideas that have particularly helped us harvest fruit from the land: the jointstock company (1609), modern portfolio theory (1952), and passive investing (1990s)

The first crucial financial idea that allowed for a great increase in the fruitfulness of the land was the invention of the joint-stock company. A joint stock company is its own legal entity, which allowed investors to buy “shares of stock” in that independent company. The first Joint-Stock company was the Dutch East India Company in 1609.

Before the joint-stock company, any investor who wanted to invest in a company needed to become a partner of that company, which entailed a lot of paperwork and commitment. And if the investor wanted to sell his partnership position, more paperwork (and often lawyers) were needed to get out of the partnership.

One of the greatest features of owning stock in a joint-stock company was that the owner is free to sell that share of stock to any willing buyer without needing any kind of permission by the company.

Once the joint-stock company was created, money was pooled together more easily. This injected significant “liquidity” into the financial markets.

But, it was not until the large scale adoption of modern portfolio theory (MPT) that stock investing was moved from the halls of the rich to the living rooms of the common citizen.

MPT, first articulated by Harry Markowitz in 1952, argues that an investor should not put all of his or her eggs in one basket.

While this may seem like a simple concept, the revolutionary idea of MPT was that all investment opportunities should not be considered just individually, but also be evaluated together as a potential portfolio. Evaluating all investment opportunities in the context of a portfolio led the average risk-conscious investor to include stocks in their investment accounts, which eventually led to billions of dollars of retirement money1 being injected into the stock market.

The last powerful financial idea that I will mention, which served to further enhance the fruitfulness of the land, was the invention of “passive investing.”

Passive investing is when investor money is pooled together and then given to a computer that simply buys a “list of companies” (i.e., index). An index can represent exposure to any kind of desired business risk (e.g., oil companies, car companies, European companies).

Since the holdings of the index list are mostly stationary, the portfolio is not actively managed, and is said to be “passive.”

Bill Sharpe wrote a paper in 1991 called, “Arithmetic of Active Management” where he showed the simple math that, given the laws of arithmetic, half of all money managers will earn less than average returns (less than half when you subtract management fees).

By comparison, passive funds, which have minimal costs2 , should be expected to outperform most professional managers. This logic has consistently proven to be true by academic research. For example, one recent study showed that passive funds outperformed 76% of active mutual fund managers from 2003-20133.

Given the simplicity and cheapness of passive investments, investors have stampeded towards passive products and these passive products have led to widespread ownership of stocks by American households (55% of all U.S. households4, 66% of all 401k assets5, more than half of all U.S. public pension money are invested in stocks as of the mid-2000s).6 This increase in stock ownership means companies produce more goods and services since they have more access to capital for their business ideas.

1 Smith, Mark B., Equity Culture, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2003 (pg. 219-220)

2 The most popular passive product, Vanguard’s S&P 500 Index has an annual fee of 0.05% vs. 1.0% for the average active fund.

3 https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/investing/investing-data/activemutual-fund-managers-beat-market-index/

4 Gallup’s annual Economy and Finance survey, 2015

5 As of 2014, https://www.ici.org/pdf/per22-03.pdf

6 Pension and Investments 2012 annual plan sponsor survey

Watch Over The Land

As the world economy has proliferated in goods and services, there has been a trend of less and less monitoring of those goods and services. To watch over the land means to understand the impact of our goods and services on the community. Before the joint-stock company, modern portfolio theory, and passive investing, owners of businesses had a shared liability with their business – if the business acted in a way inconsistent with the owners’ values, all investors in that company were legally liable, so investors put a high value on monitoring their investments.

If we fast-forward to today, it is a much different story. Because of the limited liability of owning a stock (no stock owner can lose more than their initial investment) and the lower risk of owning a portfolio of stocks, owners of stock typically own hundreds of companies.

Managers, who receive investor money from thousands of different stock investors, are no longer working alongside their investors.

One of the most serious consequences of this trend is that Christian stock owners, who often own hundreds of companies, may not know when their owned investments engage in activities that deteriorate human flourishing, such as funding abortion clinics or pornographic products.

One of the most popular investment products, the Vanguard S&P 500 Index, with $443 billion dollars of investor money, includes many companies who are acting directly against Biblical values. eValueator estimates that 73% of the 500 companies in the fund are acting in ways not consistent with Biblical values.

Christians need to do a better job of watching over their investments and ensuring that they are not endorsing (or profiting from) certain corporate behavior, through their stock ownership claims, that help to lead culture away from Biblical values.7

So, what is a Christian to do, then? Is the only solution to disengage from passive investing, altogether?

7http://evalueator.com/ (as of 8/3/16)

Our Response

One simple solution is to move towards Biblically Responsible Investing (BRI). BRI is a movement of biblically inspired investment products that are able to combine the positive benefits modern portfolio theory and passive investing with a consciousness that these products need to be “watched” to ensure that Christian values of stewardship are being honored.

These BRI products are “watched” through their endorsing, engaging and excluding activities; they endorse companies that are acting especially consistent with biblical truth, but also engage and/or exclude companies that are not acting in ways consistent with Biblical truth.

While this type of “watching over” will always fail to be as effective as a single shared liability business investment, it is a step towards fulfilling God’s mandate to both work and watch over the land that has been entrusted to us.

Biblically Responsible Investing: For God's Glory And Your Joy

“Biblically Responsible Investing” Book by Inspire Investing CEO Robert Netzly Ranks #1 Bestseller in Multiple Categories

Robert Netzly, CEO of biblical investing firm Inspire Investing, launches new #1 Bestselling book titled “Biblically Responsible Investing: For God’s Glory And Your Joy”.

Robert Netzly, CEO of biblical investing firm Inspire Investing and respected authority on faith-based investing, released his new book “Biblically Responsible Investing: For God’s Glory And Your Joy” last week and claimed the top spot as #1 Bestseller on Amazon for multiple major categories, including Christian Stewardship, Mutual Fund Investing, New Releases and others.

Netzly had this to say about the successful launch, “I am so humbled by the outpouring of support from Christian investors around the world who are responding to the call for biblically responsible investing and changing the way they invest for God’s glory and their joy. This is a spectacular movement of God.”

About The Book: “Biblically Responsible Investing”

Within the pages of “Biblically Responsible Investing”, Netzly describes in detail the story of how his life was turned upside down by his discovery of something called biblically responsible investing (BRI), how the Holy Spirit pierced his heart about the issue and his harrowing experience of leaving everything to follow Jesus into an uncertain future with no safety net.

Also within these pages is the story of how God is on the move in the financial industry, and the very real, very powerful biblically responsible investing movement underway. Christians across the globe are investing billions of dollars in alignment with biblical values for God’s glory and their joy. And as they do so, their hearts are being drawn nearer to the heart of God, their worship is becoming more rich, their satisfaction in Christ is becoming more complete and their lives are shining more brightly for God’s glory.

And Wall Street is being transformed.

About The Author: Robert Netzly

Robert Netzly is a frequent guest and contributor on FOX Business, Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal and other major media for his expertise on biblically responsible investing.

He is also the Founder and CEO of the Inspire Impact Group family of companies: Inspire Investing, a leading biblically responsible investment management firm; Christian Wealth Management, a professional membership network of Christian financial advisors dedicated to growing the BRI movement; and inspireinsight.com, a revolutionary, free investment analysis tool empowering investors with instant, unprecedented transparency into the moral issues supported by the companies in their portfolios.

For more information about Inspire Insight, please visit: www.inspireinsight.com

For more information about Christian Wealth Management, please visit: www.christianwealthmanagement.com

 

long term investment strategy

Three Elements of a Smart Long Term Investment Strategy

Dart Throwing Monkeys ≠ Long Term Investment Strategy

In my view, as investors seek to construct a long term investment strategy that holds potential to achieve above average performance over the long term, it is critically important to take a systematized approach.

It has been rightly stated that investment success is measured with a calendar, not a stopwatch. Anyone can get lucky with stock picks over a short time frame, and even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.

But investors who have been successful over the long term consistently adhere to a defined system of identifying the stocks they want to invest in, whether that is a focus on finding undervalued companies, high growth companies, strong fundamentals, competitive ethical advantages or what have you.

Whatever your focus, a proper stock selection process must have three characteristics: It must be measurable, repeatable and produce beneficial results.

No dart throwing monkeys allowed.

Measurable Long Term Investment Strategy

At the most basic level, the metrics used in selecting stocks must be measurable in an objective fashion.

Financial factors such as corporate earnings growth, discounted cash flow and debt to equity ratios are easy to measure and objective in nature. Numbers don’t lie (except when they do, but that’s another story). And many investors focus solely on these data for precisely that reason.

However, subjective analysis such as “a great leadership team”, or “unique products”, or “strong integrity” are all important investing criterion – and I would argue are even more important than financial metrics such as discounted cash flow because in reality, all of the financial data is derivative from these more subjective criteria.

Poor leadership, irrelevant products and unethical business practices are not qualities that make a great investment opportunity, neither from a moral nor a financial perspective. But there must be an objective measure of those subjective characteristics, otherwise they are unhelpful and we’re back to dart throwing monkeys.

So, how do you objectively measure the greatness of a leadership team, unique products, corporate integrity and other subjective criterion?

This is where a faith-based ESG (environmental, social and governance) factor approach to investing offers a strong value proposition to investors seeking to follow a long term investment strategy.

Converting Subjective Observations Into Objective Data

Let’s look at an example of how faith-based, biblically responsible ESG analysis can convert subjective observations into objective data that is useful to investors using the Inspire Impact Score methodology.

One of the many factors that the Inspire Impact Score takes into consideration is corporate ethical integrity, which is a subjective issue with many relevant effects on corporate productivity, profitability and therefore long term investment strategy success.

We begin the process of objectively measuring this category by collecting factual data regarding issues and events that correlate to corporate ethics. Instances of tax-related fines, political contributions, court cases, executive compensation controversies or reports from corporate watchdog organizations would be examples of items that might be looked at.

We then assign a numerical score to each of these issues according to a fixed formula and aggregate those scores to arrive at a total for that category. This numerical score for corporate integrity can then be objectively measured against those of other corporations within or across industries, geographies, market capitalizations or other categorizations to identify those organizations that have measurable patterns of ethical behavior, and those that have measurable patterns of unethical behavior.

If investors had that type of measurable data on corporate ethics prior to investing in Enron, WorldCom or any other scandal-ridden company, it is possible that those investors could have avoided a disastrous outcome for their capital accounts.

Repeatable Long Term Investment Strategy

The second criterion for a proper stock selection methodology is the ability to produce consistently repeatable results. It is not enough for an investor to be able to measure data and make a great investment decision today if that process cannot be repeated tomorrow, or next month, or next year.

Long term investment success requires a repeatable process that can be applied consistently over decades.

In my opinion, this is the primary reason most active managers fail to produce consistent outperformance. They do not have a systematic approach that is repeatable across market cycles and instead make decisions based on their gut.

Certainly they may look at financials, study price history and other analysis. But their shortcoming is that all of this objective data is then analyzed in a subjective fashion and results in a decision not based on facts, but based on the manager’s feelings about the facts.

Some investors have great intuitive sense and have had great runs operating this way. But when viewed across the long term — over decades, bull markets, bear markets and all manner of economic expansion, contraction, inflation and other myriad environments – even the best intuitive investors eventually hit a rough patch. Often that rough patch undoes any outperformance they may have achieved in their good years and they would have been better off just buying a plain vanilla index fund and accepting completely average results.

The lack of a truly repeatable, objectively measurable framework that creates precise results for conviction buys or sells is many an investors’ Achilles’ heel.

Beneficial Long Term Investment Strategy

Lastly, it doesn’t matter how measurable or repeatable your investment process is if the results it produces are not beneficial. Every investment strategy has its pros and cons, and every strategy performs better at certain times and through different seasons than at other times.

But some strategies just suck all the time.

Also, observe that there are different ways to measure how beneficial an approach may be, and an investor must decide how they will define “beneficial” for themselves.

Are positive returns the only statistic that matters? What about the level of risk comparative to the return? And what about the moral implications of the companies you invest in?

It is my experience that many investors are quick to say that “returns are the only thing that matter”. But they don’t really mean it.

Consider this: If I could offer you an investment that had consistent returns in excess of 100% per year, would you buy it? And if I told you that investment was in a business that laundered money for the mob and smuggled illicit drugs across the border, would that have any bearing on your decision?

Of course it would…I hope.

The reality is that law abiding citizens routinely choose lower performing investments (relative to the black market) to satisfy their moral and ethical concerns, such as not breaking the law.

As such, it is obvious that returns are not the all-important measure of the merits of an investment. Morality, ethics, risk and other factors play not even an equal role, but a greater role in the beneficial measure of an investment. Only when all else is equal (morals, ethics, risk) do returns play the part of tie breaker as the last and least important factor.

When returns are positioned as more important than morals, ethics or risk, bad things happen. Like 2008, for example. “Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.” (Proverbs 16:8)

Ask yourself: Does your portfolio violate your morals, invest in unethical companies or contain hidden risks?

Smart Approach

For all of these reasons, I prefer a long term investment strategy that invests using rules based, objectively measured index methods built using the Inspire Impact Score to identify unique portfolios of stocks that demonstrate compelling financial attributes and align with biblical values to boot.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results, but such an approach is measurable, repeatable and has produced beneficial results both in terms of moral values and risk adjusted return characteristics.

Is your long term investment strategy measurable, repeatable and beneficial (really)?

 

Blessings,

-R


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!

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

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

Find a Christian financial advisor

Find A Christian Financial Advisor: What Christian Investors Should Look For

How Do You Find A Christian Financial Advisor?

How do you find a Christian financial advisor? It can be a stressful process. Who can you trust to skillfully and wisely guide you through all of life’s financial twists and turns? What if you find a Christian financial advisor and they end up being the wrong pick? And what if you don’t realize they are the wrong advisor until it is too late? And for us Christians, are there biblical considerations that we should take into account to find a financial advisor?

Here are four qualities that Christian investors should demand when looking to find a financial advisor.

Find A Christian Financial Advisor Who Fears The Lord

If you want a financial advisor who has wisdom, then this is a non-negotiable. The Bible says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”(Proverbs 9:10) If we are to believe the Bible, which we do, then this verse states very plainly that only those who fear the Lord can attain to wisdom. If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and a certain financial advisor does not fear the Lord, then scripture says that financial advisor does not have wisdom.

But some may challenge this notion, asking, “Surely there are non-Christian financial advisors who give good advice, aren’t there?”

To answer that question, let’s start by assuming that the Bible is actually correct, which it is. Next, let us consider the definition of “wisdom”. Does wisdom mean making decisions or giving advice that has beneficial earthly outcomes, such as a high performing investment portfolio? Or is there a deeper, and more important element to wisdom that the Bible is referring to?

Consider another verse of scripture dealing with wisdom, “For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness,’ and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.’”(1 Corinthians 3:19-20) This verse makes clear that God has a different definition of wisdom than the world does — and importantly, His definition is the correct definition! 

True wisdom has its roots in the fear of the Lord, and as such it always brings glory to God. Worldly “wisdom” has its roots in the cleverness of men, and as such never brings glory to God. We must recognize that there are decisions that the world would count as wise but that are complete foolishness to God. Conversely, there are decisions that God counts as wise, yet the world sees as abject folly.

Which decisions would you rather make?

Find A Christian Financial Advisor Who Operates With Excellence

But, that does not mean that all Christian financial advisors give wise advice.

That brings us to the second point. At the risk of sounding redundant, if a Christian investor is going to seek advice from a financial advisor, they should only seek advice from a Christian financial advisor. Always.

And they should also demand excellence from that Christian financial advisor, just as they would from any other professional advising them on the most important decisions in their life. Always.

Scripture warns believers about receiving advice from those who are not following after Christ:

“Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-2)

We must remind ourselves that apart from Christ, “None is righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10). Only by grace through faith in Christ can we escape our wicked, sinful, scoffing state of depravity. “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.'” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31)

The implication is that no matter how nice, talented or helpful an unbelieving financial advisor is, they have not had their minds, hearts and spirits renewed by faith in Christ, and as such their advice is inherently, spiritually flawed and the Bible warns us not to seek their guidance, not to “walk in their counsel”.

However, that does not mean that Christian investors should choose to work with just any Christian financial advisor. Putting a Jesus fish on a business card is not a free pass to deliver sub-standard performance. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

Christian professionals should be the hardest working, most trustworthy, devoted to excellence individuals in the marketplace. Christian investors should demand excellence in their search to find a Christian financial advisor.

Find A Christian Financial Advisor With Godly Character

Jesus said, “Each tree is known by its own fruit.”(Luke 6:44)

There are many people who may claim the name of “Christian”, yet their pattern of life does not give evidence of the Lordship of Christ. Put another way, there are many financial advisors who may claim the name of “Christian”, yet there is no “fruit” to give us confidence that they are born again followers of Christ.

Worse than that, there are also those who would masquerade under the Christian banner with the explicit purpose of defrauding Christian investors. Wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Before doing business with a Christian financial advisor, be sure to evaluate their character and pattern of life. Check character references from a pastor, ask them what church they attend and what ministries they serve or volunteer in.

Only God truly knows the heart, but the Bible exhorts us to be wise in our assessment of the people in our life, and especially those who we take advice from.

Find A Christian Financial Advisor Skilled In Biblically Responsible Investing

Finally, Christian investors should look for a Christian financial advisor who is skilled in biblically responsible investing (BRI).

BRI is the practice of aligning investment portfolios to support biblical values by excluding companies that are engaged in immoral activities, such as abortion or human trafficking, and instead seeking to invest in companies which are more closely aligned with God’s heart and operate as a blessing to the world.

Unfortunately, many Christian financial advisors do not have the resources or experience to deliver high quality, biblically responsible investing advice. Often this is no fault of the advisor, but rather a result of their firm not having a robust lineup of biblically responsible investing offerings. And sometimes the advisor may have the investments available for his or her use, but lack experience in managing a quality BRI portfolio that rivals or exceeds the results one would expect from a worthwhile investment.

Thankfully, there are a growing number of biblically responsible investing options becoming available to Christian financial advisors at firms across the nation. And there is also a growing knowledge bank of best practices, training, screening technology and other professional resources becoming available to equip Christian financial advisors to become proficient in providing biblically responsible investing services.

The largest multi-firm, nationwide membership network of Christian financial advisors dedicated specifically to advancing the BRI movement is Christian Wealth Management. Full disclosure, I am also the founder and CEO of Christian Wealth Management, so I might be a little biased in saying that www.ChristianWealthManagement.com could be a great place to start for investors looking to find a Christian financial advisor to provide them with sophisticated guidance from a biblical perspective. I recommend you visit the site and judge for yourself.

All For God’s Glory

There are many important considerations when choosing a financial advisor, and for Christian investors there are additional qualities in the areas of godly character, fear of the Lord, God-glorifying excellence and biblically responsible investing which must be examined. Find a Christian financial advisor who displays all of these traits, and you have found an advisor who is worth listening to.

Scripture compels us to live our entire lives for the glory of God, and the management of our finances (which ultimately belong to God) is no exception. Don’t settle for anything less.

Blessings,

-R


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!

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

facebook earnings drop

Facebook’s $120 Billion Dollar Bad Day

Facebook, the Goliath social media platform, took a historic $120 billion fall on Thursday, winning the top spot for the largest one-day loss of market cap ever on record.

Interestingly, this massive 19% wipeout was heavily related to ethical missteps related to user privacy and data security practices, providing a strong reminder that ethical and moral analysis of a company is not just a feel-good activity, but can help investors identify real, tangible financial risk in an investment.

Scorching Decline And Murky Waters

The scorching decline was sparked by the company’s quarterly earnings call where Facebook’s CFO detailed decreasing user growth, shrinking profit margins and challenges related to new privacy laws in Europe which are hindering Facebook’s growth, engagement and ad revenues in the region.

Facebook’s epic evaporation of shareholder value also comes on the heels of the bombshell Cambridge Analytica scandal which put CEO Mark Zuckerberg in the hot seat before Congress and shed light on the murky waters of Facebook’s privacy and data security practices. That scandal also took a big bite out of Facebook’s share value.

Translation: robust privacy laws make it harder for Facebook to grow and earn a profit. Food for thought.

Ethics As Risk Management

Companies that stretch the boundaries of ethical business practices, or even outright cross them, may find short-term financial success. But, eventually their chickens come home to roost. Facebook — and everyone who owns Facebook stock — is finding this out the hard way.

Financial analysts would explain this by saying that corporations which externalize the cost of ethical issues (such as privacy concerns) are by definition over-monetized. Eventually those externalities manifest themselves in the company’s balance sheet, the over-monetization is corrected and shareholders pay the price.

The Bible says it this way, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” (Galations 6:7)

Jesus And Financial Advice

Sometimes biblically responsible investors are mocked by the Wall Street establishment as bleeding hearts that focus too much on “soft” or “subjective” issues, instead of the cold hard facts of financial analysis. My question is, if focusing only on financial data is supposedly the highest and best way to invest, why did so many of these investing experts just take their share of a $120 billion bath in Facebook stock? Why didn’t they see this coming? Why did they get hit by this bus while biblically responsible investors stood safely on the sidewalk?

Because of ethical concerns, such as Facebook’s data privacy issues, as well as other moral problems like Facebook’s corporate support of abortion and jaw-dropping lack of concern for fighting child pornography which runs rampant on their platform, Facebook stock has never been included in any of the portfolios we manage at Inspire.

As biblically responsible investors, we look at both the financial and moral issues related to a potential investment. Only when both areas of analysis are satisfied do we take a position in a stock. As Jesus said, “Be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)

As it turns out, this is not only great advice for your spiritual life, but for your financial portfolio as well.

Maybe Wall Street should start reading the Bible.

 


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!

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

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