When it comes to employee-sponsored 401(k) or 403(b) plans—often restricted to a few mainstream mutual-fund options—an investor can pursue three different avenues: (1) Petition the Human Resources Department to include an "ethical fund" or "self-directed brokerage window" option. (2) Use ethical ratings programs like My Investigator to pick the least objectionable fund available. (3) Stop participating altogether in favor of other tax-deferred but self-directed retirement vehicles such as iras or variable annuities.
Evangelical churches, nonprofit organizations, and foundations should adopt official ethical guidelines for their retirement, endowment, and other investments, or risk undermining the integrity of their entire ministry by supporting the cultural problems they seek to remedy.
Christian universities, colleges, and seminaries can legitimize the ethics they teach by establishing ethical investing policies as well. In addition to portfolio screening, these institutions of higher learning can also pursue shareholder action by forming committees among students, professors and alumni to research and advise votes on the ethical resolutions of their endowment's corporate proxies.
Also appearing on our site today:
Christ's Returns | Building an investment plan beyond profit.
Resources for Portfolio Screening:
- Pro Vita Advisors offers a free list of companies violating life-ethics VBI screens.
- My Investigator is a free online database with ethical research on corporations and mutual funds.
- eVALUEator has a database similar to My Investigator, sold to finanical advisers for $400 a year.
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