Should a practicing Catholic earn money by investing in a company that has children working ? In one that investigates with stem cells? And in a company that does not allow its employees to reconcile to take care of their family? How should a congregation of nuns, friars, etc., put up their money ? Should he do it?
These issues that until recently had barely transcended beyond the consciences of stakeholders are gaining relevance. Ethical funds are becoming more and more popular, and even the Catholic Church no longer only attends to the affairs of God but also approaches the earthly and dares to warn that markets are incapable of self-regulation and that their actions lack all ethical .
Borja Barrgán and Az Valor launch the first Catholic investment fund
He has done so this Thursday in a document entitled ” Oeconomicae et pecuniariae quaestiones ” (Considerations for an ethical discernment on some aspects of the current economic and financial system “and approved by Pope Francis .) It also warns of the pernicious effect caused by speculation channeled through tax havens in the economies of the entire planet and criticizes the imprudent management that governments and investors make of the public debt of the countries. “It is well known that important economic subjects tend to seek the socialization of losses, frequently with the connivance of politicians, “the text says.
But aligning financial profitability with Vatican doctrine was not easy . At least so far, since this week the first Catholic investment fund, designed by Borja Barragán and managed by Az Valor , the fund manager founded by former Bestinvert Álvaro Guzmán de Lázaro, Fernando Bernad, Beltrán, has been presented. Parages and Sergio Fernández-Pacheco.
Nuns strolling along Calle Alcala in Madrid Photo Dani Duch (Dani Duch)
Barragán, a fund manager in the style of Wall Street movies, left it all to form Altum Faithfull Investing , an independent financial advisory company (EAFI ) specialized in wealth management of religious institutions. Now, he has designed a fund that seeks to combine “the management of first-line assets” and an advice in line with Catholic principles.
“We are aware that the pure and virginal company does not exist , and that we can not control what each CEO does individually. But if we seek that all the companies in which we invest comply strictly with the social doctrine of the Church, “Barragán explains.
Are condom makers or pharmaceutical companies producing contraceptive or abortive pills left out?
Ensures that it is possible to monetize a portfolio without investing in companies that do not agree with the values of a person. That will be possible to verify from next May 31 that is when this fund begins to quote , although the period of subscription of participants is already open.
For its design, Barragán has tried to avoid the exclusion criteria that dominate in the composition of ethical funds and is committed to inclusion with an individualized valuation of each company. Although they are out of choice companies that attempt against life, in all its aspects even condom manufacturers or pharmaceutical companies that produce contraceptive or abortion pills.
But in general, they assure that they flee from the general categories. “It does not make sense to say, we do not invest in companies that sell alcohol. We will discard those that incite abusive behavior , but why avoid, for example, a winery that makes a good wine, a product so used in the Church, if it cares for its workers and boosts the economy of a region, for example, ” the founder of Altum.
The guidelines set by the investment policy are based on four blocks of principles to be met by the chosen companies: promotion of human dignity , promotion of the family, promotion of human life and care and protection of creation . It will only be invested in companies and projects that comply with these four principles.
Duties and benefits for projects that promote faith
Religious commitment not only applies to external management also governs internally. “We have linked the salaries of the entire workforce, including mine, to the salary level of European Union officials , to have decent salaries but that can never be exorbitant,” explains Borja Barragán, who also explains that ” 100% of the benefits of Altrum are destined to finance projects of evangelization , prayer, missions, etc. ”
The fund is not only available to Altrum’s regular customers who are congregations and religious organizations. ” Anyone who agrees with our investment policy and has 100 euros can invest,” explains Barragán. For this type of retail client, the management fee will be 2.2%, and will fall to 1.8% for institutional investors or those who pay a special commission for receiving individualized advice.