Investing In Your Faith

Church teaching clearly emphasizes the importance of placing one’s faith above financial gain. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that economic success should never come at the expense of human dignity and that “a theory that makes profit the exclusive norm and ultimate end of economic activity is morally unacceptable” (CCC No. 2424).

Do you know where in the world the most dangerous place is to be living? It’s not Iraq. It’s not any war zone. We all lived there not so very long ago. It is a mother’s womb. One in four babies living there right now will never see the light of day. They will never look into their mother’s eyes; they will never speak their first word, or blow out their first birthday candle. They committed no crime but yet will receive a death sentence – Abortion.

I remember doing several studies and reports as a student on why abortion was bad, and in my early years had a good understanding of what made it so immoral.  However, as a student, why abortion remained so readily available was unclear. I may have never understood the real reason why it was so difficult to end…………..that Millions and Millions of dollars were and still are being thrown its way to keep it alive. This may sound too simple, but in reality most Christians, and even Catholics are still funding this disaster with what unfortunately has the most leverage in today’s economy—their own wealth.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), The Church’s leadership body in the United States, has set guidelines for Catholics to abide by when considering their investment and retirement planning. Among the topic of abortion, included are contraceptives, embryonic stem cell research/human cloning, human rights, racial discrimination, gender discrimination, access to pharmaceuticals, curbing pornography, biological and chemical weapons, antipersonnel landmines, labor standards/sweatshops, affordable housing/banking, protecting the environment, and encouraging corporate responsibility.

Many of America’s 70 million Roman Catholics are sure of the investment path they have chosen: funds guided by Catholic ethical and moral principles. Ave Maria Mutual Funds, one of these funds, which invests according to these principles, has seen its assets grow from $25 million in 2001 to 500 million in 2009, to 1.4 billion in 2013!   Assets in the funds are expected to exceed $4 billion by 2015 as a result of the retirement of Catholic baby boomers, said George Schwartz, president of Schwartz Investment Counsel Inc., which manages the funds. Specifically, these funds never invest in companies involved in abortion or pornography, nor do they invest in any company that contributes to Planned Parenthood.

In these turbulent economic times, investors are looking for safe havens to protect their futures. Although it is almost impossible to avoid losses with stock markets around the world experiencing dramatic downturns, there are ways to at least lessen the downside. Faith-based investments, such as Ave Maria Mutual Funds that adhere to the social policies and teaching of the Church, are performing better than many of the more traditional market indices.

As Catholics, we obviously prefer not to support abortion with our retirement dollars, but our pro-life values are not the only values we promote. Would you work for Playboy magazine? Probably not. Would you buy a Playboy magazine? Let’s hope not. But are you supporting Playboy magazine financially anyway? No way, you say. Not so fast. Have you checked your 401(k) or IRA? Does that index fund you hold in your retirement account include a stock with the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) ticker “PLA”? If so, you are a part owner of, that’s right, Playboy. Not that you’ll be getting invitations to Hugh Hefner’s mansion (and not that you want them), but a little bit of your money is going to the Playboy conglomerate. How would you feel if you found out that was the case? Would it bother you?

Many of my clients admit that they never really thought about their investment dollars in terms of morality. I often times hear “mutual funds are just that: mutual funds. I balance my diversification, but have never thought much about which companies the funds hold or who I might be supporting.” But a growing number of Christians are wrestling with that question: Are my investment dollars going to support companies, which I, as a Christian, am against? And if they are, is that OK?  Some have answered no. They’ve decided that they cannot, in good conscience, contribute any money to companies that promote immorality or sin. Consider this: When you invest in a company, you own part of that company. So what you really need to consider, based on what the company does and how they conduct business, is whether you would feel comfortable being a partial owner of that company. If you can invest in a way that stays true to your faith and has a solid return potential, why would you not do so? Religion has always been a central theme of American life, but not always were there many options for those interested in investing based on religious principles. That has changed! More mutual funds that invest according to religious beliefs have been created, and the funds’ assets have ballooned into billions and billions of dollars.

In summary, I’d like to now take some time to introduce my profession and myself. As many of you may already know, a profession isn’t always easy! It would certainly be easier to get paid to tell people what they want to hear vs. what they need to hear. This could be related to religion, politics, family life, and even financial planning. BUT–who ever said that leading a holy life would always be easy? Obviously we choose whether to lead the “holy” life or an “easy” life.

So, with financial planning, it is no different. My belief is that you should choose a financial plan that is built on your goals and needs in life. My compensation, as your advisor, is never based on what pays the highest commissions, but instead is the understanding that your financial future is secure and the path that we’ve built is centered on Christ. What keeps Catholic financial services alive is the continued growth in faith of each one of us and the satisfaction in knowing that we allow Christ to work inside of our hearts, family, and even our finances.

Now CATHOLICS have an institution in which they can allow their insurance and investments meet their needs and at the same time meet the requirements of their faith.  Prosperitas Wealth Management offers investment products and services for Catholics who prefer a well-balanced, and diversified portfolio for their investment and retirement needs.

So, as far as describing myself, it may help to clarify what I am not. I am not an insurance agent trying to funnel life savings into a fancy insurance policy that should “satisfy” you and your family for a lifetime. I’m also not your slick stockbroker calling each day to inform you of todays “hot picks” just to earn a commission. For it is my proven belief that wealth management involves a specific allocation of investments (securities) and insurance, and this “allocation” should be based on one’s age, goals, risk tolerance, financial objectives, and most importantly, Christ.

After all, wealth is best built using the idea of a well-balanced pyramid, which has the ability to weather severe economic “storms,” and not a shack composed of a variety of different sized tree limbs. I am a Catholic financial advisor with a background in the financial services and banking industry. The bulk of my career has been providing Wells Fargo Bank clients with investment and retirement planning as well as comprehensive financial planning and estate preservation. My career path has now changed slightly, as I feel quite fortunate to be able to not only align my career with my faith, but also enjoy being able to speak with Catholics about aligning their financial future with their faith. This has not only been a spiritual reinforcement in my journey in life, but has also given me the opportunity to truly evangelize. The bottom line is, as the funding increases for more and more topics such as abortion, the better the chance that these moral obstacles multiply throughout the world. Now, the secret that more and more Catholics are uncovering is that they are able to stop funding immorality with their wealth without compromising their investment strategies or returns. For more information, please give me a call to set up an in-home complimentary financial review.