For more than 30 years Chris McMahonCEO of Aquinas Wealth Advisors, he has advised clients in the areas of comprehensive financial planning, asset allocation, retirement planning, and estate tax minimization techniques.
russ alan prince: Tell us a little about Aquinas Wealth Advisors℠ and the desire to invest based on faith that led you to found the company.
Chris McMahon: Aquinas Wealth Advisors℠ was born out of our clients’ desire to align their financial lives with their faith lives. In this increasingly fast-paced information age, it’s easy for investors to get overwhelmed. Specifically, we hear from our Catholic clients that there is tremendous noise for investors to filter out and very little information on how to assess the alignment of their investments with their deepest beliefs. This has become a much bigger problem in the last ten years, as money managers and corporate officers have become much more socially active. His actions have left many religious investors feeling sidelined, frustrated and powerless.
The only possible solution faith-based investors had was a small number of mutual funds that would detect possible violations of faith. Unfortunately, these funds have not been widely distributed and may only represent a small portion of an investor’s overall portfolio, leaving large potential breaches in their account. Until now, there was no way for customers to pull back the curtain on their investments and see a more complete inventory of what their dollars were backing.
Against that backdrop, Aquinas was founded in hopes of using cutting-edge technology to empower investors to dig deep into their accounts and fully understand their ability to stop supporting activities and causes that conflict with their morality.
The prince: How does the technology behind Faith & Finance Score℠ go beyond other assessment tools? How is it different from ESG raters?
McMahon: Thomas Aquinas puts technology directly in the hands of the investor. Before this, clients needed to trust their advisor and expect to be able to sign up for some sorting service that would give them an idea of their portfolio’s alignment with their values. Advisors often advised clients on the idea of investing in the faith or suggested that it was too difficult given the ability of corporations to make donations through their foundations and other avenues. Lastly, some advisers may be employed by firms that support some of the activities that are in direct conflict with faith-based investor standards. Faith & Finance Score℠ is a game changer. Now clients have the power in their own hands to do a more complete analysis of all their holdings.
With the Faith & Finance Score℠ tool, investors can quickly and efficiently access a comprehensive report on the performance and faith alignment of their dollars. The process allows clients to link their current investment accounts in a secure portal and receive their Faith & Finance Score℠ within minutes. The technology produces robust reporting that includes detailed reports on company involvement and support for offending organizations. Potential conflicting faith activities are clearly identified. Investors to see violations in the individual securities they own, as well as the securities held within the funds.
As for how this differs from other screening technologies, I’m not sure there are any ESG screeners out there that can screen a portfolio in such a comprehensive way. Aquinas technology analyzes an investor’s properties in a way that few screening technologies can match and is well positioned to set a new standard in the field.
The prince: What do you see on the horizon for faith-based and values investing, even beyond Catholic clients? Are priorities changing in this space?
McMahon: It’s no secret that we’re seeing hot topics and how companies are responding to them more frequently in the news. Various debates are raging about how corporations are allocating their funds regarding various causes, and different people feel differently about it. I think you’re going to see more and more pushes aligned with Thomas Aquinas’s mission statement to allow investors to see corporations beyond their business case.
People want to know what companies are doing with their social investments and, if possible, make sure their portfolio is aligned with their principles. Aquinas has seen constant changes in this space with ESG investing and value-based investing, and our hope is that we have put in place an infrastructure to stay ahead of this ever-changing landscape.
As we look to the future, we want to take the technology behind Faith & Finance Score℠ and adapt it to serve investors from other Christian denominations who might be interested in this degree of transparency. We see opportunities to grow from there in other markets, whether from Aquino or elsewhere, I hope to see more offerings focused on transparency in the investment space.
PRINCE RUSSIAN ALAN is the CEO of Private Wealth magazine (pw-mag.com) and Chief Content Officer of High-Net-Worth Genius (hnwgenius.com). He consults with family offices, fast-paced wealthy entrepreneurs and select professionals.
The advisory services are offered by Moralis Technologies, LLC d/b/a Aquinas Wealth Advisors℠ (“Aquinas Wealth Advisors℠”), a registered investment adviser with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. Aquinas Wealth Advisors℠ may only transact business in those states where notice is filed or qualifies for a corresponding exemption from such requirements. For information on the registration status and business operations of Aquinas Wealth Advisors℠, please refer to the company’s Form ADV disclosure documents, the most recent versions of which are available on the SEC’s Investment Advisors Public Disclosure website. at www.adviserinfo.sec.gov.
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