“Sometimes, whether I’m lookin’ for Him or not, That’s where I find God.” – Larry Fleet
Jim Shellenberger, CFA | Financial Advisor
Larry Fleet co-wrote the song “Where I Find God” in an attempt to express that before he necessarily knew what or who God is, he felt like there was something out there – something he could see, anywhere he went. With the song, he wanted to demonstrate that to him, God is everywhere, whether Fleet was “lookin’ for Him or not.” Many people might be surprised to find God in investments – at least I was when I first encountered something called Biblically Responsible Investing (BRI). The idea behind BRI is to be conscious of where your money is being invested, from a biblical perspective. The attempt of BRI is to help put money into investments that aim to create a positive impact, in one way or another. The impact can be felt by employees, customers, stakeholders, community, partners – or in the best case, by all of the above. BRI then steers clear of companies that violate biblical principles. The reason I want to bring up Biblically Responsible Investing is to highlight yet another strategy Elevate Asset Management offers. Our Christian Worldview Strategies follow these BRI ideals.
The positive impact. Have you ever thought about where, exactly, you invest your money? Biblically Responsible Investing helps you direct your money to positively impact causes that are important to you. One of the best ways to describe the operational mottos of companies with biblical values is to say they “love their neighbor as themselves.” The company can demonstrate this in, for example, the way it treats its employees, its customers, as well as its community. Biblically Responsible Investing seeks to operate in a manner that honors and respects life, supports families and communities, promotes freedom of all people, and aims at fair and ethical business practices.
Areas to steer clear of. Biblically Responsible Investing implements measures to limit exposures to certain factors or areas that contradict biblical values. Some will agree with all the areas of violation, while others with maybe just a few of them. Yet if there is at least one area you feel passionately about, Biblically Responsible Investing may be suitable for you. Some of the exposures that are filtered out include abortion, pornography, human rights violation, and harmful entertainment. The question for you as an investor is; are there practices you would not want to profit from? If the answer is yes, then it might be worthwhile to have a conversation about taking a more value-based approach to investing.
Why should you care? It’s simple, really. Shares of a stock are certificates of ownership that an investor receives. So, if you are a stock owner, you own a portion of the company. When you invest in the company, you hope they succeed and generate a profit which, in return, belongs to the stock owners. Then the question you might want to ask yourself is, are there things you would not want to profit from?
Since there are millions of investors in a company, your often minimal share of ownership can seem negligible. Yet it’s worth remembering that every ocean is made of tiny drops of water and if enough people have similar views, they can advocate for change. Money controls most things in our world. Money makes the rules and dictates policies. If a company has a group of either potential or current investors advocating for change, and if that group is strong enough, then change might just happen. A prime example of this was Coca-Cola pulling out of South Africa. In the mid-1980s Coca-Cola had enough of both current and potential investors who were upset with apparent racism and who were advocating for the rights of people in South Africa which made a big, powerful company such as Coca-Cola sell its interests in the country. The investors, who were against the apartheid policies of South Africa knew that if Coca-Cola threatened to pull out of South Africa, the government in South Africa may reevaluate its decisions.1
While some readers might find Biblically Responsible Investing appealing and perhaps even offer an option they didn’t know existed, it is worthwhile stating that BRI may not be for everyone – and that is okay. But if you are concerned with what your investments are profiting from, know that Elevate Asset Management can help look into strategies and find possible solutions. BRI can be a wonderful way to align your investments with your values.