A growing range of responsible-investing options

The Examiner

When you think about ways to make money by investing, are there certain companies or industries that you would refuse to benefit by supporting them with your capital? We are probably all unique in the exact set of those businesses we do not favor. The concept of responsible investing is millennia old, but recently your choices have been expanding rather quickly.

Ron Finke

In the Pentateuch, the law of Moses presented rules, Tzedek, to ensure fair dealings in business. Adding to this, the law of love from Jesus in the New Testament provides a less defined but more encompassing view of business practices. This has become known as Biblically Responsible Investing. Shariah law from the Qur’an also presents guidelines including prohibitions of promoting alcohol, pork, gambling, weapons, gold and silver (except as money for transactions).

In the early years of the United States, Methodists renounced investing in slavery, smuggling, liquor, tobacco and gambling. The Quakers about 1898 added war-related industries to their prohibitions. Pioneer Fund began in 1928 with similar restrictions soon after the world’s first mutual fund was created in 1924. In recent decades, companies involved in apartheid or enabling abortion have been added to the lists. Finally, now environmentally green portfolios have surfaced and are becoming more popular.

Many investors, especially using mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETF’s), have thought it too difficult to find a fund clean enough to make a difference. Or they have been unwilling to investigate a company prospectus to determine activities they might find objectionable. But the difficulties involved are primarily overcome today by a broader selection of organizations motivated to help investors with the process.

In alphabetical order and probably not all-inclusive, fund families and ETF’s of which I am aware include mutual fund families of Ave Maria, Calvert, Catholic Investor, Crossmark, Domini, Eventide, Guidestone, James Advantage, LKCM, Pax, Praxis, Thrivent, and Timothy Plan. ETFs include those of Global X Catholic Values, Inspire, and Timothy Plan.

Regardless of what your personal beliefs are, most people want to feel that the actions they have taken in their life will leave the world a better place than when they found it. How you invest can be one of those ways. We have focused more of our attention in recent years on this type of ethical investing and because of that, are hosting a seminar on the subject on March 17. If this is a topic of interest to you check out our website at www.stewcap.com

(Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The advice is general in nature and not intended for specific situations.)            

Ron Finke is president of Stewardship Capital in Independence. He is a registered investment adviser. Reach him at rcfinke@stewcap.com.