Exploring Kingdom Investing: Innovest Portfolio Solutions
In today’s tumultuous economic situation, Christians can struggle to navigate financial complexities and challenges. The prevailing global obstacles, ranging from shifts in politics to economic instability and social unrest, are impossible to ignore.
Uncertainty seems to loom everywhere. Many Christians are seeking solutions, to stay true to their values in a culture that contradicts their deeply held beliefs. Many want to use their dollars and invest their dollars in a biblically-responsible way.
While many organizations advise and manage money for Christians, nearly all have conflicting cultures and values and happily do business with organizations that are in direct conflict with the Kingdom. In addition, they sponsor and donate to nonprofit entities that are antithetical to Jesus’ teachings.
When it comes to selecting an investment consultant, there are many choices, but one firm that stands out is Innovest Portfolio Solutions. Founded 27 years ago, by two devout Christians, Innovest is guided by Christian values still today. Innovest has a deep understanding and expertise in working with Christian organizations including nonprofits and retirement plans. Innovest also offers services for individuals, families, and family offices that want to invest in a biblically-responsible way.
Let us explore this unique company and discover the power of kingdom investing with values backed by the Christian faith!
After gaining years of Wall Street experience, co-founders, Richard Todd, and Wendy Dominguez, established Innovest as one of the first fee-only investment consulting firms in their region. Their goal? To eliminate conflicts of interest and create investment solutions that serve the best interests of their clients.
Innovest is truly one of a kind thanks to their mission of stewardship. Innovest strives to serve, not be served. Innovest honors God in everything they do, and they are dedicated to the Kingdom.
But what truly sets Innovest apart is their skill and expertise in constructing portfolios that are congruent with Christian beliefs.
Kingdom investing is very important to our clients like you! That is why we are so confident about Innovest’s approach. Their mission is a true example of a Christian-based business changing the industry and people’s lives in the process. Their dedication to custom portfolio solutions, fiduciary guidance, and uncommon service is unparalleled in the industry.
While the world seems to crumble around us, Innovest remains a beacon of faith that clients can return to over and over, just like a trusted friend. For those investors, like you, who want to promote their faith, and not the world, Innovest may be just the perfect solution.
We sat down with CEO and Principal Rich Todd to talk about this amazing organization. We think you will be impressed by what he had to say!
Mark: It is wonderful to meet with you today, Rich. It is truly amazing what your organization has been able to accomplish since its inception. Can you tell us why you exist and share a little about why you began this company?
Rich: Thanks for having me, Mark. My co-founder, Wendy Dominguez and I started Innovest 27 years ago because we were tired of the conflicts of interest on Wall Street. It got to a point where we were told to look out for shareholder interests over client interests and we did not think that was right for the client. We started Innovest, an investment consulting firm, with 25 clients and a mission of stewardship, putting our clients’ interests first. Today we consult to more than 300 clients and advise on close to $50 billion, including a large number of faith based organizations.
Mark: Rich, what a great story. It seems God has really inspired you. So, with that being said, what sectors do you invest in? Or if it is easier to describe, what sectors does your firm avoid?
Rich: We help our faith-based clients build biblically-responsible portfolios using products, managers, and strategies. We recognize there is a spectrum when screening out sin stocks, and different Christian organizations may have different goals. Some may want to eliminate all funds that invest in abortion, pornography, or alcohol, and some may just want to focus on earning the highest return possible and not screen at all. We help our clients identify where they fall on the spectrum.
Once we understand a client’s goals, Innovest utilizes our vast experience in finding and monitoring managers that invest in publicly traded companies according to preferred biblical criteria. We help fiduciaries assess and carefully implement a biblically-responsible investment agenda to ensure that any investing they initiate or contemplate does not violate their governing regulations or their fiduciary responsibilities. Christians are challenged to build biblically-responsible portfolios while maintaining prudent diversification and high-quality managers. In fact, Innovest goes a step further and monitors the fund manager’s adherence to biblically-responsible investing. We have reached out to all our fund managers and have included their responses specific to Christian based biblically-responsible investment policies in our manager database.
It was through our extensive due diligence, asking values alignment questions, that we uncovered a fund manager was taking Christian client fees and donating them to Planned Parenthood. We asked them why they work with so many Christian organizations, and they said that Christians are backwards and through their work with those in the church, they hope to influence them.
Mark: We noticed while researching your organization that you have been able to grow in a relatively short period of time. Our readers are nationwide – primarily Christians in the marketplace, higher education, and those in pastoral or ministry careers. Can you share with them how you have been able to expand so quickly? What would you say is the key to your success?
Rich: Our culture is our key to our success. Peter Drucker said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Our culture is our secret sauce. We have a Christian culture at Innovest. We are stewards to our employees, clients, and community, including the Kingdom of God. We strive to serve, not to be served, and as a result, our people flourish. Our professionals see their work as a vocation where there are no boundaries between Sundays and Mondays, allowing for an integrated life. They understand that they represent Innovest at all times. While this may sound onerous, Innovest has won “Best Places to Work” nearly every year. While we care about intellect, education, and experience, none of those trump character. We thoroughly evaluate the character of each potential Innovest candidate.
At Innovest, we “give back” to our community monetarily and actively with our time. Each month, we volunteer for the less fortunate. Our team members have invested in the community by feeding the poor, painting houses for the elderly, giving comfort to those on the street, and donating school supplies, among others. We tithe 1% of our Innovest revenue.
Faith-based organizations seek us out because of our values, our reputation as a character-first firm, our expertise at building biblically-responsible portfolios, our thorough due diligence, not only of investment strategies, but also of fund providers, and our “fee-only” approach. We work as a team, implementing a consistent process for all clients to deliver nothing short of our best.
Mark: Rich, if an employer like a Christian primary school wanted to use your firm in managing its 401(k) plan, is that something your firm could do directly? Or would they need to choose a broker to work with?
Rich: Yes. We can help any Christian organization with managing their 401(k) and/or 403(b) plans. For instance, we currently work with Focus on the Family and other organizations such as colleges and universities, churches, and dioceses.
There is no need for an organization to work with a broker, they are conflicted, and they are not fiduciaries – meaning they are not legally bound to act solely in the best interests of their clients. We are a consultant and a co-fiduciary; we will act in the best interest of the organization. We will ensure the organization is offering a quality retirement plan for their participants. As part of our retirement plan services, we will analyze the goals and objectives of the plan, design a thoughtful participant friendly menu, and assist in creating an education strategy. In addition, we will mitigate fiduciary risk to the plan sponsor.
Mark: Are there any sectors your firm invests in that the average investor is unaware of but should know about?
Rich: Yes. Alternative investments can be a great way to further diversify a portfolio, especially for long term assets. Examples of alternative investments include private debt, private equity, and real assets. Alternative investments have a lower correlation than equities and bonds; therefore, they can help portfolios withstand volatility in the markets. In 2022 when equity and bond markets were down, Innovest had reduced exposure to fixed income and increased exposure to real assets like timberland, farmland, and infrastructure. These all work well with a biblically aligned portfolio.
Mark: What advice would you give to smaller employers? We have many smaller organizations with 10-40 employees that are looking for retirement plan help and investing help.
Rich: Offering a retirement plan can be a challenge for smaller employers. We are in conversations with a Christian membership association about creating a MEP, a multiple employer plan. A MEP allows multiple businesses to participate in a qualified retirement plan. They benefit from economies of scale in pricing and minimize their fiduciary liability. Furthermore, a MEP removes the administration burden so employers can focus on running their organization. We recently implemented a MEP with Catholic Benefits Association, and we are exploring the same solution with an association that serves evangelical organizations. A MEP can be a great resource for smaller organizations. We welcome any opportunity to speak with smaller organizations to help them find a retirement plan solution.
Mark: Do you have a specific success story to share with readers? Perhaps an individual or organization that used your firm and achieved kingdom-minded results while also achieving financial success?
Rich: We recently started working with a Christian university. The reason that they chose to work with us is because of our Christian values alignment, great reputation, and 27 years of experience. Their previous consultant did not share the same values as the university. They told them that their portfolio was aligned with their Christian values, but as we started analyzing the portfolio, we recognized that their portfolio wasn’t what they were promised. We started to implement high quality Christian products, managers, and strategies into their portfolio.
Mark: What is the best way to have an interested person contact you for kingdom investment services for their employees?
Rich: They can reach out to me at email@example.com or my colleague, Sarah Newman, Vice President, at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set up a call. My cell is 720-586-6353.
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