For years, social activists have been using their power as stockholders to impact corporate policy.
Now, Christians have an opportunity to use their investment dollars to promote Christian values. Biblically responsible investing (BRI — also known as moral investing) is a subset of sustainable and responsible investing or socially responsible investing. It’s an effort to encourage companies toward socially responsible behavior.
That area of investment is “growing exponentially, rising 76 percent between 2012 and 2014 to represent a total of $6.57 trillion of investment capital,” according to a Biola University study.
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Nearly $16 trillion is invested in mutual funds, according to the Investment Company Fact Book.
About 68 percent of that is held by Christians, as well as 41 percent of all money invested in securities, which was discovered by the Pew Research Center for the its Religious Landscape Study.
Many activist movements represent less than 1 percent of the population. With a tiny fraction effecting change within our nation, imagine the possible impact of Christians investing with purpose beyond monetary return. Moral investing is a proactive, inoffensive way of influencing the culture where it matters the most, in the deep pockets of corporate America.
“My whole practice is based on BRI,” said Mark Minnella, president of Integrity Investors, LLC, based in St. Louis, Missouri. “As an adviser, I’m an ambassador for Christ in this world. So If I advise someone and don’t tell them how their investments either advance or oppose biblical values, I haven’t done my job representing the Kingdom of God.”
At an annual conference in 2017 sponsored by the Christian Investment Forum (CIF), a survey of attendees indicated a sharp increase in awareness of BRI among financial advisers. Almost 90 percent of advisers who responded felt “somewhat educated” about BRI, with 57 percent feeling “well educated.”
A comparable survey in 2013 found only 33 percent felt they were “well educated.”
Respondents were asked whether they agreed with this statement: “Faith-based investing can meet the fiduciary requirements of their clients, and is a credible and appropriate method to invest in a professional manner.”
Only 4 percent disagreed, while the vast majority — 83 percent — agreed.
More than 88 percent of the advisers who responded to the CIF study “were interested in recommending investments that align with client values, with over 61 percent saying they were very interested. This interest came from those that already are using BRI as well as those that have not yet begun offering it to clients. For those that aren’t offering BRI, over 67 percent of them are interested in learning more so they can consider it more closely,” the report said.
In 2013, a little over a third (35.6 percent) of respondents were using BRI for their clients.
In 2016, more than half (53 percent) were doing so.
The Biola University study also noted that employers are increasingly interested in adding BRI elements, often at the request of employees.
“Along with the boom in the BRI trend, new options are opening for employers desiring to implement BRI in their retirement plans, along with others which have been available for some time,” the study said. “For instance, Timothy Plan mutual fund company has been providing their funds inside of 401(k)s and 403(b)s since the 1990s.”
While the trend is growing, there are literally thousands of ways to invest money.
Most people do not have the time or expertise to sort out all the variables, which is why trusted financial advisers are so important.
It’s not unreasonable to take responsibility for how our money is used in the marketplace — including investing.
You don’t have to be a Christian to want to invest your money in companies that make the world a better — not worse — place.
But believers have the added insight through the Scriptures that all money belongs to God, not just the amount we tithe. So it’s not unreasonable to take responsibility for how our money is used in the marketplace — including investing.
Robert Knight is an author and communications adviser for Timothy Partners. Some of this material was drawn from a curriculum for family economics called “Stewardship: God’s Plan for Financial Success,” written by Timothy Plan founder Art Ally. Learn more at timothyplan.com. (Mutual funds are available through a prospectus — Timothy Plan Prospectus — by contacting the fund or a financial professional.)
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