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What faiths have authoritative guidance for their investments?

'Do (non-Catholic) faiths provide authoritative guidance for their investments?' We received this question recently in relation to comprehensive documents like Mensuram Bonam. Faith-Based Measures for Catholic Investors: A Starting Point and Call to Action and Socially Responsible Investment Guidelines for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and had to answer: rarely. 

Or at least, not yet.


There are interesting efforts in Islam to provide broad faith-based investment guidance, like Al-Mizan, or the recently launched Tayyib. We’ve also seen templated or ‘example’ investment policies and guidelines offered by regional faith organizations, such as the Samples of Investment Policy Statements distributed by the Episcopal Church Publishing Inc in the US. Indeed, in our search for faith investment policies and guidelines, we often see multiple organizations within a geography for one faith using nearly identical templated guidelines, but as we noted in our most recent Good Intentions update, the templates are often low-scoring in our FCI methodology. Some faith organizations have published faith-consistent guidance for types of investment activities, like New York-based Jewish Funders Network’s Greenbook Guide to Impact Investing.


There’s also the Zug Guidelines to Faith-Consistent Investing from the 2017 event in Switzerland, which captures views and guidance on investing from representatives of the eight faiths that attended this event, from which FaithInvest – for one – emerged. Some are detailed, many are general statements of intentions or an inventory of current activities.


In practice, we often find wide differences in investing within the same faith. We recently reviewed four investment policies from organizations in four different countries but all of the same faith. Their anonymised FCI Scoring results are shown below:

Recall in our FCI Scoring methodology a score of 10 is 'full' faith-consistent integration, while 0 typically reflects no role for faith in investing.


This study was done on behalf of Faith Org 0, as they are interested in how their work compares with others globally in their faith. Though all four organizations specified a clear role for faith in their investments, how and where they practice this differs widely. For example, just one organization had a proxy voting policy, two of the four specified positive screens, while just one considered impact investing. We’re currently working with this organization to convene these groups to pursue sharing their investment practices, and maybe – someday – more tightly connect their policies and possibly provide guidance for others of the faith to use with their investments.


Would you like an assessment of your faith organisation's Investment Policy and Guidelines statement? FaithInvest provides this service at no charge; reach out to us at mathew.jensen@faithinvest.org

 

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