A new faith-aligned investment alliance is about to be born. It is called FaithInvest. It might change the world.
What is FaithInvest?
FaithInvest will be a network and platform for identifying and creating investment opportunities aligned with values held by faith groups. It will become a legal entity in spring 2019 when it will create its own website, media presence, and office.
What are the values?
The values vary between each faith and often each faith tradition. For almost all faiths they include fighting injustice, addressing climate change and restoring a more beautiful world. Which doesn’t mean that investors won’t make substantial financial returns. It means there will be extra criteria for what constitutes a substantial return, and those criteria will benefit more people, and the planet itself, as well as investors and the companies themselves.
The first landmark meeting was in Zug, Switzerland
Which investments will be supported?
The platform will initially concentrate on investments that further the 17 Sustainable Development Goals – a vision, of a world without poverty, with equality, and with a clean environment – launched by the United Nations in 2015.
What will it do?
* It will be a network for identifying and creating faith-aligned investment opportunities across asset classes.
* It will provide education and information about these value-driven investments and it will be a voice for this movement in religious outreach, the media, finance worlds, parliaments, boardrooms, schools, universities and elsewhere – so the principles will be understood and taken up across a wider group.
* It will assist current charity or aid-funded environmental and sustainable projects to develop investable business plans. This "pipeline" will supply the demand this new movement has unleashed.
*It will be a voice for Faithinvest and values-driven investing.
*It will be a platform for investment ideas, opportunities and concepts through information exchange, projects, due diligence and technical assistance
How did it come about?
FaithInvest was born from a realisation that the faiths are a massive investment bloc. If they all got together they could be the fourth largest investment bloc in the financial world. If they collaborated then they could be share-holders in (and therefore part-owners of) companies and for-profit programmes in areas of influence that could make our world a better place.
In November 2017 there was a landmark meeting of faith investors, investment specialists, the UN, NGOs and others in Zug, Switzerland. As part of that, the Zug Guidelines were compiled. They are key faith and investment guidelines outlining what different faith traditions are interested in investing in, and why. This created an unprecedented demand.
Joined now by more than 30 philanthropies and NGOs, this new series of commitments spells out what billions of dollars of faith and value-driven investment wishes to invest in.
Who is behind it?
FaithInvest has been formed by major religious investors working with philanthropies, the United Nations, national governments and financial companies specialising in impact investment. It is being hosted for its first few months by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), a UK-based international NGO started by HRH Prince Philip in 1995.
And the people?
Until March 2019 the interim CEO is Michael Even, former CEO (then chair) of investment group MAN Numeric, and the non-executive co-chairs are Jean-Pierre Schweertz, chair of DOB Foundation and Martin Palmer, secretary-general of ARC. Pippa Moss is FaithInvest events coordinator. There is also a development committee that meets regularly. A permanent CEO and a full-time team will be appointed in 2019.
How considerable are the faiths' portfolios?
Together they have trillions of dollars of financial assets. Together they would make up the fourth largest investment bloc. Religions have always had resources in land and buildings, but today they also have substantial resources invested in the world's stock markets, placed there to increase in line with (or higher than) inflation so that later they can pay pensions, or salaries, or for infrastructure projects in the future.
Don't the faiths already have investment policies?
In the past few decades most faiths have adopted a degree of negative screening - no investment in arms or weaponry, no tobacco companies, for some no companies concentrating on alcohol, increasingly a sense that it is faith-consistent to divest in fossil fuels or palm oil etc because of their huge negative environment impact.
What very few faith investors have done, or been able to do, is concentrate on positive investments in areas which their faith teachings should encourage them to support. This can include sustainable energy, profitable waste recycling initiatives, organic (or similar) food, fair trade comestibles, and which also prioritises companies with clear, transparent, ethical policies in terms of staff, gender balance, waste disposal, transport policies etc.
What are the FaithInvest Principles
* At the heart of FaithInvest are faith investors and faith organisations. These will be in partnership with philanthropies and NGOs and an inspiration to investors guided by their own faith.
* FaithInvest guides investment in line with faith-consistent principles, values and responsibilities. This creates demand for faith-consistent investment initiatives.
* The faiths also generate projects which need investment. These also need support services to become investable at scale.
* FaithInvest helps the faiths build bridges and form partnerships with secular agencies and suppliers of secular and religious financial services.
* FaithInvest aims to assist entire portfolios to be faith-consistent in response to global crises/challenges. That includes any proportion directed specifically toward impact investment.
How does it work?
FaithInvest exists to engage the faiths and secular partners to:
Develop a pipeline of investable projects in line with faith-consistent principles
Catalyse faith-based investment partnerships
Encourage and develop a variety of faith-based guidelines through regional faith programmes in Asia, Latin America and Africa as well as Europe and North America
Create and deliver faith-consistent opportunities and business services
Connect projects with investors at scale
Undertake applied research
Focus on faith criteria, indicators and measures; look for common voices & concerns in this plurality
Educate and inform through creating formal and informal curriculum resources; raising faith grassroots awareness of faith-consitent investment principles and potential; encouraging faith individuals toward FCI, knowledge sharing providing or partnering with leadership training; educating asset managers about engaging with the faiths
Engage partners: provide the faith-consistent voice needed for systemic change, for example in partnership with the UN Sustainable Development Goals
Inspire: build and tell the story of FaithInvest and faith-consistent investment
What has the media said about it?
In August 2018 Bruce Clark at The Economist described how "LAST November investment managers and prominent figures from many faiths (including Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and Taoists) gathered in the Swiss town of Zug and agreed to help each other direct the vast financial assets controlled by religious bodies towards projects that help rather than harm the earth. Out of that meeting sprang an initiative called FaithInvest. Its declared aims include the establishment of “a pipeline of investable projects in line with faith-consistent principles.”
"Ethical and religiously inspired investment used in years past to focus on the avoidance of bad activities, like selling weapons to dictators or cigarettes to youngsters. The Zug meeting marks a more recent emphasis on using investment to help the environment in active ways, say through renewable energy or sustainable forest management. The deployment of billions of dollars could be affected.
How will FaithInvest be structured?
True to an organisation set up to support sustainability, FaithInvest has a sustainable financial model. For the first three to five years there will be a blend of grant funding, upfront investment and fees for business services (advisory, research, education, other).
The intention is for FaithInvest to have a two-tier hybrid structure combining a light-touch, not-for-profit flexible association with a for-profit service delivery arm acting consistent with the not-for-profit aim. This business model has to serve the core association purposes, not to drive them.
What are the Sustainable Development Goals?
On September 25, 2015, 193 world leaders committed to 17 Global Goals to achieve three extraordinary things by 2030:
End extreme poverty.
Fight inequality & injustice.
Fix climate change.
Who do I contact?
Please contact Pippa Moss email@example.com
What more can I learn about this?
Martin Palmer, ARC's secretary general and Jean-Pierre Sweerts, both here representing FaithInvest, speak at the November 2018 Swiss Impact Investment Association (SIIA)meeting, "the TED Talks of Sustainable Investment."
The Faith in Finance book.
Here is a thoughtful, meditative short film from the first Zug meeting in 2017 which started with good will and the interest in change, and ended with well-being and the determination to make changes.
ZUG: Faith in Finance meeting
Zug, Switzerland October 29 to November 1, 2017. More than 40 faith investment managers will discuss how to invest more positively in sustainable, ethical funds and companies.