It can mean a lot of things, so lets define a few unifying principles.
unifying principles of a faith driven inVestor
The FDI Movement is a holistic approach to investing that doesn’t limit itself to particular methodologies (e.g. negative screening or concessionary capital) but instead asks the core question of what it means to be faithful as we place investment capital. We believe that our investment dollars can make as great an impact, or greater, as our giving dollars.
At its core, this movement has to be about the discipleship of its participants and receiving God’s love. As an outpouring of that, we then seek to steward treasure, time, and talent in a faith driven manner. Without the radical heart transformation that comes from an encounter with the living God and ceding ownership of our life to Him, all of the following will crumble at the first challenge it encounters, and its advocates won’t be taken seriously by those inside or outside the Church. We believe that by stewarding His resources well, we come to know Him better and that others might as well. We also believe that the heart posture of a faith driven investor and the HOW of our investing, is just as important, if not more so, than the WHERE of our investing.
The larger community is currently working on a group of commonly held principles that will unify the passion and opportunity that we have for the space. These will be commonly held principles that aren't compromising on the fundamental tenets of our shared Christian faith, aren't presumptuous or prescriptive, but have real meaning and purpose that will allow our work to be distinctive and meaningful. This is similar to what was done for the 5 Marks of a Faith Driven Entrepreneur.
A preliminary view on some of these principles is listed below. You can click on each of them to see them in more detail along with the roots in scripture for each of these. Please note we’re still processing through the feedback we gathered at the event in Utah this summer, stay tuned for updates.
We believe that God’s ultimate purpose is to reveal His glory and who He is. We also believe that in addition to the salvation of man, His primary means is the restoration of making all things new as he reveals His character of mercy, love and holiness in the restoration of life. That’s the culmination of God’s work since the Fall, and in the meantime he is using his people to work toward it here and now. We are called to join God, though imperfectly, as he brings about his kingdom on earth, and we look toward the perfect future restoration that he promises. We recognize that this restoration happens as individuals come to know God, as people and communities can flourish as beings made in the image of God, and as the world around us reflects the character of God. As faith-driven investors, we recognize our purpose and calling toward this end. We also recognize the unique challenges of fulfilling our call in a fallen world. The following Principles seek to identify these challenges and provide a beginning path forward to change the mindset and practice of Faith Driven Investors to see God’s Kingdom come and His will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.
GOD’S WORD AND PRAYER AS A HANDBOOK FOR INVESTING - We believe that God speaks to us through His word and that all of Scripture is useful for instruction on how to formulate and execute an investment strategy. This includes our motive for investing well (gratitude for the gift given us John 3:16), the importance of saving (consider the ant), and how we might invest (gleaning, Parable of the Talents, Investments for eternal consequence). Scripture, when taken in aggregate, provides us with a great handbook on every question of investing - why, how, where, what, and when. We also believe that God speaks to His people with shared, yet unique, callings. As such, we don’t think that there is one specific formula for Faith Driven Investing, even while there are many unifying principles.
STEWARDSHIP VS. OWNERSHIP - We believe that God owns it all—not just our tithe, but all of it. Ironically, we believe that as we come to understand God’s ownership, we are free to experience the fullness of His joy. Since God is the owner, we might also view him as the CIO of the investment world. As His portfolio managers, we should regularly seek Him through prayer, fasting, repentance, and expert counsel from people who share our faith regarding how we should allocate His resources.
CAPITAL = INFLUENCE - Investment capital affords the stakeholder with the opportunity to steward influence. Shareholders in both public and private companies can call investor relations with concerns, or advocate for the launch of faith-based employee resource groups (as now exist at Google, Apple, Facebook, SalesForce, Uber and other companies), or even advocate for chaplaincy in some form. This influence might also look like an Angel investor coming alongside an entrepreneur to encourage them in their discipleship.
ABUNDANCE ECONOMY - Traditional micro and macroeconomic theory teaches us that we operate in an economy of scarcity based on limited resources. We worship a God that took five loaves and two fish and fed five thousand people. We believe that God’s economy is one of abundance. We don’t believe that one person’s economic gain or financial return comes at the expense of another. An abundance mentality allows us to be open handed as we look to share investors and deal flow. Further, while many that subscribe to an economy of scarcity might believe that the addition of a bottom line to financial return will come at the expense of the other, we believe that great financial returns are possible not at the expense of Biblical values, but because of them.
PRACTICES WE DEVOTE OURSELVES TO AS A MOVEMENT
HEART POSTURE - While it’s the hope of this movement that dozens if not hundreds of new investment vehicles will be created across a wide variety of asset classes, breadth of selection will never be the most important result of our work, nor will the aggregate amount of money invested. Those will be important signposts of progress, but our hope is that every Christ follower sees each investment decision as a chance to hear from God. It’s the “how” we invest (seeking God) that is more important than the “where” of we invest. Even more important than the “how” and the “where” is the “why” of investing. We believe that when we come to understand the value of the gift of life, both now and eternal through the abundant generosity of God, that the natural response is one of worship and gratitude. Heart posture is the aspect that puts us in the best position to be successful in our investing.
EXCELLENCE MATTERS - Francis Schaeffer once said that it’s to the degree we do our work well, that we have an opportunity to witness and be heard. Excellence should be obvious and not need to be stated. Yet, we must acknowledge that most of the world believes that adding additional bottom lines must subtract something from the other bottom lines. We endeavor to make sure that this movement is about excellence across discovery, diligence, execution, portfolio management, and outcome measurement. This same emphasis on excellence will extend to how we think about the discipleship of those that we invest in, and those on their teams and under their care. The rest of the world is expecting us to fail. Let us run the race as if to win it.
COLLABORATION - The secular investment world is known to work well together through the formation of investment syndicates and conferences that share best practices. We should endeavor to be even more unified as we resist the move toward sectarianism and denominational tribalism that has characterized much of recent church history. We were designed to be in community and fellowship with God and to receive wise counsel from others that know Him. Iron sharpens iron.
As we actively pursue partnership and collaboration we should heed well the warning issued in the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel when that collaborative effort failed. Though impressive in it’s scope and ambition it failed because of the impure motives of those that labored. We believe that we can work together in community with excellence, as we build something with God’s guidance for His glory. We endeavor to check the purity of our motives regularly. We come to this movement with a conviction of abundance. From this foundation, we should be able to work well together in sharing ideas, deals, and investors.
WHAT WE HOPE THIS LOOKS LIKE
WHAT WE ARE FOR - Christ followers have become known for what we are against—no alcohol, tobacco, adult entertainment, gambling, etc. While acknowledging the good negative screen funds that exist, we desire for our movement to be more known for what we are FOR in how we place our investment capital - things like human flourishing, job creation, redemptive businesses that restore the world to God’s original design in the garden, etc. We believe that while engagement with companies is important, we should be wary of having our investment dollars supporting or creating products that erode family or Biblical values. This is not a movement that is about delineating what Christ followers should or should not invest in. Some investments may be clear to avoid (those that produce and distribute pornography as a material part of their business model might be an example), and others may be less clear (those that make some food products that our doctors would tell us to avoid).
INVESTING FOR IMPACT - Marc Andreesen once said (something that Warren Buffett has since popularized) that he would invest in a house (investment), or a boat (charity), but not not a houseboat (referring to impact investments with less than market returns). Many investments that come out of this movement are going to be focused on providing at, or better than, market rates of returns as compared to other, more secular products in their fields. Others are going to have outsized impact in other areas of impact from job creation to discipleship, but might fall short of market financial returns. Ours is a movement that celebrates both of these groups of investments. Faith Driven investors aren’t afraid of investing in excellent houseboats.
ACCESSIBILITY FOR ALL - We aspire that investment vehicles which include Spiritual Integration will be accessible for all investors, from the widow and her mite, to the rich young ruler. SEC rules make this hard across all asset classes, but it’s a worthy objective over time. We must be conscious and transparent with investors who have different capacities. The appropriate ‘pacing’ of different investors into novel investment vehicles may differ, but our objective is that all investors will be able to participate as products and supporting data becomes available.
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