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Perspective – Understanding Stewardship

January, 2021

Regardless of what you believe…that the world began after an explosion in the universe or that a Designer and loving Sustainer created our home in the vast universe…it can at least be agreed that there was a beginning to the earth we live in. As a second fact and as far as we know, there has been no further deliveries of care packages with additional resources supplied to Earth since that beginning. In other words, all the resources used to build the nations, cities, economies, medical treatments and product consumers demand as we have them today were developed from the resources discovered on the earth from the very beginning.

Governments become elected on platforms of renewable energy, reducing pollution and environmental responsibility in elections today. Human beings are aware that the design and building of all that we have in this world from its available raw materials have actually started to destroy the earth’s ecosystem and potentially damage a healthy world for future generations. The purpose here is to find perspective rather than wade into the multi-sided controversy of the social, moral or environmental issues that stimulate very deep discussions.

In respect to these conversations, have you heard the word ‘stewardship’ used? A steward is someone who manages property owned by someone else. When you think of it, that is what we all do in this world. We came into the world with nothing and will leave with nothing. All we really have is the opportunity to seek out truth, be responsible and make decisions that have a lasting effect on ourselves and others. While we sojourn here we may make an impact and leave a legacy in some form but all the things we call ours while we are here are not really owned. It might beg the question: who does own it all then?

As we come to the time of year when we consider making additional contributions to our financial and retirement plans, should the understanding of stewardship influence our decisions, at least in part?

When you make contributions to your investments you can investigate the way they are accountable to a sense of social and environmental responsibility by the manager. Each investment is managed to gain returns based on established objectives, styles and philosophies. Asset managers will consider risk or security of capital, company historical performance, a company’s share of their market sector and if they are positioned well for future opportunity and consumer demand. Once an investment has passed this scrutiny, some money managers will then subject their options to additional filters in consideration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. For example, companies that have a record of not paying fair prices for farmers’ produce in third world countries or who may produce weapons or who are not developing processes to reduce pollution, will not score high in the managers’ decisions to invest. Now with financial significance as shareholders in companies these portfolio managers will also use the opportunity to influence company management, vote at shareholder meetings and file shareholder proposals.

Generally speaking, companies are required to follow government set social and environmental protocols. Yet investing some dollars in money products that invest in businesses who are really trying to make a difference in our world and in the lives of others could have a lasting impact. It is interesting that one of the first questions an investor may pose when considering RI (Responsible Investing), is, “Yes, but how does the rate of return for RI compare to other investments?” Generally, RI funds will not take a back seat on return, but in response, you might want to think about the answer to, “Is return more important than responsibility?” An interesting contemplation, don’t you think?

Evans Financial can tell you about some of the options for Responsible Investing. Please call our office.
After all, we really are stewards!