Demystifying Christian ethical investment

19 May 2021

We more than manage 

As a kid I wore a ridiculously bright-coloured wristband with WWJD? inscribed around it. It served as a reminder of a Sunday-school lesson on the topic of God’s sovereignty and will over my life, and on many occasions caused me to consider – what would Jesus do in this moment? How would Jesus want me to act in this situation? At a young age, this simple  cheap wristband laid an ethical foundation for life.

Today I carry the same lesson into my role at Epworth Investment Management. As Christians, we believe that God cares about all aspect of our lives, including how we manage our money. As fund managers guided by Christian principles, our role is to be more than managers, but rather stewards of wealth. Stewardship makes us ask tough questions like that on the simple wristband - ‘What would Jesus buy?’. 

So, what would Jesus buy? 

Unfortunately, the scriptures do not give us divine stock picks. Instead, scripture outlines a set of godly principles for moral living and calls us to be close adherents. Through God’s word, we are encouraged to look holistically at creation - from planet to people. We are tasked with being in solidarity with the oppressed, calling out injustice, and restoring God’s creation. 

We’re not so different you and I 

With all this God talk, some may consider Christian-led ethical investing a niche product. Perhaps your charity or organisation is not faith-based. So why care about what Christians have to say about investing? 

Fundamentally, we care about what you care about. 

Outside of the realm of metaphysics and belief, Jesus can arguably be considered one of the world’s most notable humanitarians and champions for justice. His teachings can be universally applied to many areas of life and investment decision-making. Throughout his ministry, Jesus remained deeply concerned for the ‘least of these’ - the marginalised and the poor. He called us to radically love our neighbour, to do no harm, and reminded us that creation itself was a gift from God.

Out of love for people and planet, Christian investment management seeks to carry on the legacy of Jesus. Like you, we want to address the climate emergency, seek tax justice, end modern slavery, improve nutrition and address all sorts of injustice around the world. 

We’ve got history 

The Christian faith is steeped in a rich history of moral changes and challenges. Christian-led investment is led by centuries of moral thought and debate. That’s not to say we don’t care about the bottom line. On the contrary, like all fund managers we aim to serve the financial needs of the client. It is to say, however, that before any investment action, we draw upon the wealth of collected knowledge, and carefully consider the moral and spiritual implications. Our history informs our decision-making and helps us navigate increasingly complex moral challenges.

We’ve got a lot riding on this

A Christian investment ethic must also be rigorous. There’s a lot at stake when speaking about matters of Christian responsibility. If our decisions are ethically dubious, we disappoint our clients and God. All that we do should serve God and client. Therefore, every decision we take and strategy we implement must be thoroughly researched and rooted in our Christian ethic and client tolerance. God as stakeholder encourages the Christian-led fund manager to strive to be moral, ethical, and spiritual custodians of client funds. 

We really believe this stuff

I often get asked if I really believe in this God stuff. The answer is a resounding – Yes! And whether you do or not, a Christian ethical approach can prove to be an invaluable resource when pursuing moral returns. Our unique Christian heritage pushes us to be in solidarity with the poor, the marginalised, and the planet. Being guided by Christian principles means we don’t speak out against injustice for moral brownie points, but rather out of a deep authenticity and integrity that desires real redemptive change. Don’t’ be afraid to ask, ‘What would Jesus buy?’.

Reverend Andrew Harper is head of ethics at Epworth Investment Management 

Epworth Investment Management Limited (“Epworth”) is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA Registered Number 175451). It is incorporated in England and Wales (Registered Number 3052894), with a registered office at 9 Bonhill Street, London EC2A 4PE and is wholly owned by the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church.
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