Searching For A Moral Compass

As portfolio managers, we are tasked to look out for our customers—to offer higher returns, lower risk, and efficient tax avoidance while we grow their accounts and provide income in retirement. As stewards of our customer’s portfolios, we strive to the do the right thing in terms of selecting investment products that build up society, do good, and follow Christian principles.

There is often confusion about the difference between Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) and Morally Responsible Investing (MRI). We’ll try to make it simple.

Initially, SRI was used to describe investing in companies that did not profit from “bad” things like tobacco, alcohol, gambling, and firearms. The perception was that these companies promoted sickness, mental and physical abuse, failed relationships, bad habits, and even death. The term focused on which companies one would avoid, not what to invest in, but that has changed. Now SRI seeks out companies that do good—such as alternative energy/clean technologies, community organizations that provide needed services to the poor and disadvantaged, and others that improve the quality of life and reduce reliance on welfare. The focus is on society, not necessarily moral or ethical good as defined by Christian conscience.

moral compassMRI is a subset of SRI but is different because it screens out companies engaged in abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and pornography. It’s pro-life and pro-family. It’s a pillar of the Stewardship Foundation. MRI appeals to investors who want to buy into specific funds that match their moral compass.

As SRI investing became more popular (over $40 trillion in 2016), the term Impact Investing found its way onto the investment stage. The term refers to investing in companies that do the right thing. It actively targets firms, funds, or projects that provide a measurable benefit to society as a whole. Not limited to stocks, mutual funds, or ETFs, it includes private equity, venture capital, and debt investment programs. Investors in this arena are actively participating by putting their money where their mouth is.

Remember that the Stewardship Foundation’s endgame is financial growth for our clients. Whether you are saving for retirement or using your wealth to actively make the world a better place, the road we help you choose is paved with a Christian moral compass.

Socially Responsible Investing—Enough?

Pope John Paul II stressed that “even the decision to invest in one place rather than another…is always a moral and cultural choice” (Centesimus Annus). Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) is used and encouraged by the United States Conference on Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in order to “exercise faithful, competent and socially responsible stewardship in how we manage our financial resources.”

Like the Stewardship Foundation, they base their values, directions, and criteria for financial choices on the Gospel. You can learn more about the Church’s SRI guidelines here.

But buyer beware. Outside the USCCB, the SRI movement is dominated by what some might consider left-leaning political concerns, not necessarily the issues supported by the Stewardship Foundation or the USCCB. For example, concerns might include torture and kidnapping in South America, forced child labor in Asia, and damage to the environment throughout the world. But what about the commercialization of sex through pornography, music, and motion pictures? Yet it receives little if any mention from most SRI advocates.

We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to choose the right financial advisor with the right software, tools, and experience to help you choose an investment portfolio that that is fully vetted based on moral truth as given to us in the Gospel. To learn more about socially (or morally) responsible investing, call Joe Finneran now at (614) 800-7985. And please share this with your family and friends whom you believe may be interested.