Worldwide study shows religious investors can ally faith and finance

Religious investors, in economic terms the third largest group to invest on the world’s stock markets, can post high placement profits and remain faithful to their religious creed. This is the message of the third biennial world report on religious investors, the only report of its kind.

The report highlights the profile of religious investors who respect this balance and thus can have a major influence on company ethics:
- Their principles of faith can serve as a road map for investment choices;
- By nature, these investors have a long-term view which is key to the notion of responsible investment;
- They can call on the support of what is often a worldwide community;
- They have set up networks that offer the chance to work together on stakeholder actions and therefore increase their impact.

Even though a certain number of religious organisations invest responsibly and use their role as shareholder-activists to promote change this sort of profile is far from the majority.

What this active minority displays is investment patterns that other religious organisations would do well to follow. The report shows that ageing of the population and other demographic changes among believers mean that financial investment offers a new tool for religious groups to spread messages such as respect for the planet, integrity and justice.

This report was authoured by three researchers: Katinka C. van Cranenburgh (3iG), Daniel Arenas (ESADE) and Céline Louche (Audencia). Their research lasted eight months and was split into three stages: research of relevant literature, cartography of religious investors, interviews (in person and/or by telephone). The qualitative sample was made up of 20 religious organisations mainly of Catholic or Jewish faith.

Besides this publication, the authors have published the following articles and reports on faith-consistent investing:

Practitioner Reports:
• Believers in the Boardroom. Religious Organisations and their Shareholder Engagement Practices. May 2012
• From Faith to Faith Consistent Investing. Religious Institutions and their Investment Practices. August 2010

Academic Articles:
• Van Cranenburgh, K.C., D. Arenas, J. Goodman, C. Louche, Religious Organisations as Investors: a Christian Perspective on Shareholder Engagement. Society & Business Review, Volume 9, Issue 2, forthcoming July 2014.
• Goodman, J., C. Louche, K.C. van Cranenburgh, D. Arenas (2013), Social Shareholder Engagement: The Dynamics of Voice and Exit. Journal of Business Ethics, October 2013, Online First (DOI) 10.1007/s10551-013-1890-0.
• Louche, C., D. Arenas, K.C. van Cranenburgh (2012), From Preaching to Investing. Attitudes of religious organisations towards responsible investment. Journal of Business Ethics, 2012, Volume 110, Issue 3, Page 301-320. (DOI) 10.1007/s10551-011-1155-8