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Jerry Citarella: Socially responsible and faith-based investing

Financial Truth

Posted: June 19, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 19, 2012 2:00 a.m.

As we all know, everyone is entitled to their own opinions; or at least they should be. People should be able to like what they want, believe what they want and live the way they want — within reason.

Everyone has different beliefs and some of the strongest involve social issues and faith or religion. Many people live their entire lives based on religious beliefs, and some go out of their way to be socially responsible.

I must say that investments can also be in balance with your belief system.

The majority of people aren’t aware that many things they’re invested in might possibly go against their beliefs, either socially or religiously.

Think of an issue you have strong feelings against.

If you discovered that your investment dollars were helping move that issue forward, would it bother you? If so, would you like to avoid it?

Well, you can. Whether it’s pornography, war, oil, gambling or another common concern, with the right programs you can avoid it in your investments.

When setting up an investment account, certain options will allow you to invest in line with your beliefs. These are typically called socially responsible or faith-based options. Many years ago, these opportunities were very general and sometimes somewhat underperformed, due to the restrictions.

More recently, and with the help of advanced technology, you might be pleased to know of great advances in this style of investing. Your desires to avoid things you don’t believe in or choose not to support can now be satisfied. You can also focus on things you do believe in and would like to advance.

You’d be very surprised about what some companies support. The research and statistics are actually pretty amazing. The screening process can also look into issues relating to employees and the way a company might treat them. Simply put, if there’s something you don’t believe in, you no longer have to turn a blind eye with regard to your money.

Some companies will offer a “packaged” product that will have a stated goal or theme, such as Christian-based beliefs or those of other religions. Others will have a general socially responsible theme, avoiding typical things many people would disagree with, such as smoking.

The programs I like even more are those that allow investors to specifically choose what they want to avoid. One company I use has about a dozen very specific topics or concerns that you can actually choose as options to avoid. You’re given the choice to specifically determine what your beliefs are. For instance, you might be OK with companies that invest in gambling but definitely don’t want to support animal testing. The choice is yours.

I’m not here to tell you what your beliefs should be and I’m definitely not saying you should invest in programs like these. What I am here to do is inform you about something I often hear would be desirable but is not well-known. Is it interesting to you? If you want more information about these programs or would like to actually look into some options, you definitely should look into it.

Most advisers don’t use these opportunities and may only work with basic options set up as funds with predetermined screening, but many advisers will have more advanced experience and opportunities. As I always say, if you have an interest in this topic be sure to find someone who is qualified to help you. There’s no reason your beliefs should not be in line with your money.

Jerry Citarella is the owner of Infinity Wealth Management 23734 Valencia Blvd., Suite 301, Valencia, (661) 255-9555, ext. 11.  He is also the author of The Truth Helps Series of financial planning books. Mr. Citarella’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. Submit questions to:  Securities and investment advisory services offered through NEXT Financial Group Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC.  Infinity Wealth Management is not an affiliate of NEXT Financial Group Inc.


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