July 12, 2022

Inspire, Transform, Provide - Investing Aligned With Your Values – with Robert Netzly - (Part 2) – [Ep. 129]

Inspire, Transform, Provide - Investing Aligned With Your Values – with Robert Netzly - (Part 2) – [Ep. 129]

In this episode, Linda continues an informative conversation with Robert Netzly, Founder & CEO of Inspire Advisors, an organization formed to inspire transformation for God’s glory by providing Biblically responsible investments that create...

In this episode, Linda continues an informative conversation with Robert Netzly, Founder & CEO of Inspire Advisors, an organization formed to inspire transformation for God’s glory by providing Biblically responsible investments that create meaningful change in the lives of people across the globe. How are your investment dollars spent? Do your funds support your values? Learn how you can track your dollars and discover responsible investment options aligned with your worldview and values. Whether you are an employer, employee, or a solo entrepreneur, this episode provides actionable steps to ensure your money can be allocated in support of principles that matter to you. 

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Linda J. Hansen:  Welcome. Thank you for tuning in to this episode of the Prosperity 101 Breakroom Economics Podcast. My name is Linda J. Hansen. Your host and the author of Prosperity 101 - Job Security Through Business Prosperity: The Essential Guide to Understanding How Policy Affects Your Paycheck, and the creator of the Breakroom Economics online course. The book, the course, and the entire podcast library can be found on Prosperity101.com. I seek to connect boardroom to breakroom and policy to paycheck by empowering and encouraging employers to educate employees about the public policy issues that affect their jobs.


My goal is to help people understand the foundations of prosperity, the policies of prosperity, and how to protect their prosperity by becoming informed, involved, and impactful. I believe this will lead to greater employee loyalty, engagement, and retention and to an increased awareness of the blessings and responsibilities of living in a free society. Listen each week to hear from exciting guests and be sure to visit Prosperity101.com.


Thank you for joining with me today. This is part two of an episode with my guest and where we are discussing biblically responsible investing. And I started this by saying much has been discussed in the investing world about ESG, which stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance. The topic may be confusing to you, especially if you’re concerned about responsible financial planning. 


Robert Netzly is back for part two to discuss this and more with listeners today. Robert Netzly is the CEO and Founder of Inspire Advisors, an organization formed to inspire transformation for God’s glory throughout the world by providing biblically responsible investments that create meaningful change in the lives of people. Robert is a globally recognized authority on the biblically responsible investing or BRI movement and is frequently cited in major financial media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Fox Business, and Financial Times. He’s also a thought leader regarding best practices for design and implementation of biblical investment strategies for institutions, professional money management, and retail investors. 


Robert founded the Inspire Investing Group of Companies in 2011 and previously worked in the Wells Fargo Investments Private Client Division in Carmel, California from 2008 to 2011. He holds a BS degree from New York University’s Excelsior College in Liberal Studies and a black belt and instructor certification in Taekwondo. Robert and his wife are raising and home-educating five children. They reside in Idaho, where they serve in their local church and community through many volunteer efforts. Robert, thank you for joining me again. And for our listeners, you will want to go back and listen to our first episode that we did just prior to this one. But for those who may just be joining for the first time here, could you just give a brief overview of how you got involved with biblically responsible investing and what led you to start Inspire Advisors?


Robert Netzly:  Sure thing, Linda. Thanks for having me back. A pleasure to be here again. And I won’t give the whole long story we did last time. You can go definitely go back and listen to that if you have more interest, but really, we’re just working away as a financial advisor at Wells Fargo Private Client and I stumbled across this concept of biblically responsible investing when you’re looking at not just the financial aspect of a portfolio but the moral aspect of what these companies are investing in. 


What are they doing to earn a profit? Are they selling abortion drugs? Are they violating human trafficking issues in their supply chains? Like what are they doing? And it changed my life. Long story short, God led me to leave that position at the bank, start a company, really a practice and had no vision to really grow a company, frankly. But what I found was God was at work and it was just movement going on, and God has used that simple step of faith to just do some really amazing things where, you know, that was 11 years ago when I left Wells Fargo. Fast forward to today, we’ve gotten from zero to managing $2 billion of assets under management, all according to biblical principles. We’re the third fastest growing investment firm in the nation, several years running. We’re in the Inc 5000 top quartile, fastest-growing private companies in America, and the list goes on of other accolades that to God be the glory because none of this was my idea. 


And frankly, I just feel like I fell into this river of God’s providence. It’s a movement that God was accomplishing. He’s opening the eyes of his people all over the world to this huge problem that we’ve got His money invested in things like abortion drug manufacturing companies and this huge opportunity to make some really simple changes to the way we select our investments, to align them to support biblical values, God-glorifying values that just help people instead of hurt people in the world. You’re going to put it simply as that and we’re seeing massive change. It’s really exciting. So, a pleasure to be here to tell the story and give some practical tips to people here today again with you, Linda.


Linda J. Hansen:  Well, it’s truly inspirational, especially since when you quit your job, you really didn’t know what was going to happen, and you had your computer and prayer.




Robert Netzly:  That’s it. 


Linda J. Hansen:  And it grew and it’s just so inspirational. And I want to encourage listeners, you may be in that point some time in your life where, you know, you really don’t know the path forward. But I always tell people just go through the open doors like, you know, like you did, Robert. You went through the open doors and now look what has happened. You’ve been able to impact so many people’s lives and impact our culture. And so, we’re really grateful that you were brave enough to take the leap. And as the quote says, “You took the leap and built your wings on the way down.” [Laughs] So, I really appreciate it.


Robert Netzly:  Yeah, praise God. Praise God.


Linda J. Hansen:  Praise God for that. And in the previous episode, we talked a little bit about, you know, what ESG means. And so, I really encourage people to go back and listen to that for a more in-depth information. But could you just briefly explain that again.? And then what I’d like to dive into for this episode is really some nuts and bolts of what individuals can do to find out how their own money is being managed, what types of things they are investing in, maybe unbeknownst to them. But then if they see things that they either want to support or not support, what would be their next steps? I think that would be very, very helpful for the listeners.


Robert Netzly:  Yeah, ESG stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance investing. And it’s primarily been the domain of progressive extremists that use their viewpoints on the environment, on social issues such as abortion, on corporate governance issues such as board diversity to really push their agenda into companies that then have influenced politically and socially, et cetera, beyond the walls of their headquarters, especially when you’re dealing with media companies like Disney or Twitter, or any number of companies. 


And so, ESG has really been hijacked by progressives. We are – one of the things we do is we’re invading the ESG industry with biblical values because guess what? The Bible has a lot to say about the environment, social issues, and corporate governance. It may be different than what the progressives want to push, but we’re here and we’re at the table, and we’re shareholders too. 


And so, we are communicating these truths and our viewpoints, as winsomely and as boldly as possible to corporations for the – on behalf of the investors that we support and that, you know, own our funds and invest with us all over the world. And by the grace of God, we’re seeing some exciting results. So, ESG is in a nutshell, you know, this – including environmental, social, and governance screens or viewpoints into your investment decisions, and you can do that from a secular perspective or you can do that from a biblical perspective like we do.


Linda J. Hansen:  Right. And that biblical perspective is kind of unique in the sense that it has not been what has been promoted in the boardrooms across America. So, just not because people weren’t interested in doing so, but maybe they didn’t know how or they weren’t aware that they could. So, I think what you’re bringing to the table and helping to educate people about is really important. So, if you were someone who’s just becoming alert to these issues, and you’re concerned about what’s happening in America – in the culture in America, you’re concerned about how your money is being spent to support things that you do not agree with, what would be the first step they should take?


Robert Netzly:  First thing is to know what you own. Most people have no clue what’s in their investment portfolio. You might know the name of the fund or the name of the company, but do you know if they gave any money to Planned Parenthood? Do you know if they’re supporting the Equality Act? Most people have no clue. And that information can be hard, historically, to get a hold of. 


So, one of the first steps is – very practically speaking, you can go to InspireInsight.com is a free technology website that we’ve put together over the past couple of years that allows you with a few simple clicks. You don’t have to log in. Just go there, type in a ticker symbol of that mutual fund that’s in your 401K, or a stock or ETF or whatever you own. Type in those ticker symbols and within seconds, you can see all the data good, bad, and ugly of what your investments are profiting from and supporting. Down to the, you know, granular details of on this date, this company gave this much money to Planned Parenthood. 


And then you can – like we’re not the moral police here. But you know, you get that information and you can figure out very quickly, is this something that you want to support or not? And what decisions you can make, then going downstream. But the very first thing is just be aware, right? Don’t just invest blindly. Because you might be, like many people, completely shocked by what you find in your portfolio.


Linda J. Hansen:  Exactly. And you brought up – you mentioned Planned Parenthood a few times and the abortion industry, which is truly a multibillion dollar industry. 


Robert Netzly:  Right.


Linda J. Hansen:  And we can vote with our dollars and with our shares, and that’s an important thing, but we can’t unless we are informed. But there’s other issues that are also really important to Christians and other conservatives who care about preserving the American dream, preserving our American culture, preserving our freedom. So, I’m sure that through your insight tool, you can find out, you know, if they support companies based in China or if they are supporting, like you mentioned, human trafficking. There’s so many different things. I mean, maybe they’re supporting transgender education it for kindergarteners or critical race theory in your elementary school, or there may be all these different things. And unless you are aware, you don’t really know what to do about it. 


So, again, listeners, you can go to InspireInsight.com and find out where your money is being spent. And you can find out if you’re happy with how it’s being spent. So, if you’re not happy with how it’s being spent – well, let me back up a second, if you’re happy with how it’s being spent out, I guess you would recommend to people that they write a note and encourage the company to keep supporting something, you know, great for our culture –


Robert Netzly:  Right.


Linda J. Hansen:  – something that they believe in, correct?


Robert Netzly:  Yeah, absolutely. And we’ve written a number of those notes ourselves in the past when there’s certain points in time when a lot of companies seem to jump on a certain bandwagon and the ones that would be viewed negatively, let’s say, you know, from people of faith or conservatives. The ones that don’t, you know, there’s – you got to know there’s pressure for them to have done that. And it took some sort of courage for them not to do that.


So, just as important as it is to reach out to those ones that are kind of going down the bandwagon and try to course correct, and say, “Hey, that’s not a direction I’d like to see the company that I own, you know, go down.” Also reach out to those ones that didn’t decide to get out there and say, “Hey, thank you so much for not doing XYZ. I’m sure it came across your desk. There was probably a very concerted decision and I appreciate you not doing that because of, you know, fill in the blank.”


So, certainly those sort of letters are invaluable and it’s very easy to do so. I mean, again, just really practically speaking, if you own a certain company or even honestly, if you don’t own a certain company, and you’re just a citizen in the world, they want to hear from you anyway. You can go to their investor relations page easily found on the website of just about every company. You can go to the investor relations page and there’s an e-mail address there. And the person who gets that e-mail, their job is to listen to those e-mails. And you can just send it on in and say thank you for doing this. So, it’s not difficult, take a couple of minutes, right? But again, it’s just important to know, in the first place, what companies are doing what and it’s super easy now to go to InspireInsight.com and find out exactly what they are doing.


Linda J. Hansen:  Well, and I imagine that it’s like it is when you write to an elected official. If you write to an elected official at the state level, they view that correspondence to be the same as 100 people in their district. If you write to a federal-level elected official, they view it as 1,000 people hold that opinion. And so, I imagine it’s the same for these companies. You know, if they hear from one person or 10 people, it can really be changing their opinions and opening their minds to some things maybe they hadn’t thought about because they’re just getting pressured in other areas.


Robert Netzly:  Yes. And I guarantee you they’re hearing from the other side, from the liberals. They have – the progressives have for decades been very strategic in driving agendas into the corporate boardrooms and this is what they’ve been doing. And frankly, conservatives had been asleep at the wheel in this particular regard through shareholder engagement. We’ve not been involved and I can’t tell you how many executives of Investor Relations Departments or CFOs of companies that I’ve spoken with about whatever issues – you can pick any issue. But they, you know, several have said to me at the end of our phone calls, “You know, I’ve been doing this for decades, and I’ve never – it’s the first time I’ve ever heard from a faith-based investor.” Decades, never heard from a faith-based investor. Oh, my gosh, why not? 


Linda J. Hansen:  Right.


Robert Netzly:  So, they need to hear from us. And praise God, they are starting to hear from us now. I think it – the kind of a secret cat out of the bag. They’re like, “Oh, oops, we forgot to do this one very important thing.” And more and more, you know, people are wanting to have these aligned decisions with their money, how they spend it, how they invest it, are thinking more holistically about these things. And that’s great because we really do need to make that voice heard, not just in a boycott when those are appropriate, but even more so, it’s even more strategic and more influential when you speak directly into those management conversations through the Investor Relations Department. And it’s not scary and it’s super easy, so.


Linda J. Hansen:  That’s inspirational in the sense that it just reminds us again, the power of one –


Robert Netzly:  Yeah.


Linda J. Hansen:  You know, we can really bring about positive change. In our previous episode, you talked about some organizations that you’ve worked together with to help educate people and create a larger impact. Could you share with the listeners what those organizations are?


Robert Netzly:  Yeah, there are several. Some of those that we’ve – well, one, in particular, we’re working with right now and we’ve worked with very closely is the Alliance Defending Freedom, a phenomenal organization. If you’re not aware, you need to look them up. They are Supreme Court litigators. To my knowledge, they’ve never lost a Supreme Court case that they’ve taken up. And they are defending the cause of religious liberty and life, and everything else that goes with it at the highest levels. 


And in recent years, we’ve been very encouraged to see them notice that this area of shareholder engagement is hugely important to advancing conservative values and protecting conservative values in our country. And so, they’ve gotten involved. They’ve graciously invited us to be, you know, core members of their program there that they’re building out. Recently, we have co-sponsored an index called the Viewpoint Diversity Score Business Index, where we have partnered up again with Alliance Defending Freedom to score companies.


We started with 50 very strategic – some of the largest companies in the country, in the world, but these 50 are strategically chosen because of the risk of cancel culture and like banks and social media platforms, and businesses like that. And where we score them based on how friendly they are or unfriendly they are towards religious freedom, like First Amendment freedoms. As you’d imagine, the scores were not very good. When we got done with that project, we’ve published them for free online. ViewpointDiversityScore.com, I believe is the website there. You can also find a link on our website InspireInvesting.com. And so, you can go in there to search for those companies, see how they score, see how they rank up. 


And it’s just the very beginning, the tip of the spear for this effort to, again, shine a light on the companies that are in our portfolios, and also where we decide to spend money or not spend money on a daily basis. And, you know, are they working to undermine your very way of life or not? These – it’s even – it’s shocking that we didn’t even have to say that in America. But there are actually companies that have, you know, Starbucks, Target. There’s a few others, right? You can really – Disney – that have taken these stances and really adopted activist social agendas that specifically attack people of faith, specifically attack conservative values, and are looking not trying to grow a business. They’re trying to influence our entire society in, you know, to jump off a cliff, in my opinion.


Linda J. Hansen:  Right. 


Robert Netzly:  And there needs to be a counter pressure and there needs to be accountability for these businesses. They don’t get to just do whatever they want, without accountability, which, thank God, Governor Ron DeSantis showed Disney just recently, right? Just there needs – they need to know they can’t just stand up and do whatever they want to do. There is accountability and as more of us are aware, and really just kind of making some simple decisions about how we invest money, how we spend money. It’s sending very strong messages to corporate boardrooms and they’re legally obligated to honor the requests of shareholders. So, we need to take advantage of that.


Linda J. Hansen:  Well, this brings up a good point to that conservatives and Christians, you know, they care about diversity. But we don’t judge that by the color of our skin or whether we are male or female. We care about it by the content of the character and the viewpoint expressed. So, you’re looking to have diverse boards on these companies and that’s a great, great point. So, that website, listeners, is ViewpointDiversityScore.com and you can go there, and I can attest to the great work of Alliance Defending Freedom as well. I’ve had some of their people on my podcast before, Bob Pruitt and Dr. Michael Farris, and they’re just some fantastic organizations, protecting freedom and liberty for all people –


Robert Netzly:  Right.


Linda J. Hansen:  – not just Christians. But for all people, like really protecting, like you mentioned. Before, our Bill of Rights, you know, our rights under the Constitution and that’s what we’re looking at doing here, too. So, whether you’re – we’ve talked a lot about the pro-life issues, especially it’s in our mind, we’re recording this, you know, shortly after the Supreme Court decision regarding Roe v. Wade, so that’s in our minds, of course. 


But there’s so much more to keeping our country free, you know. Life is the base point, but life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, being able to create wealth, to be able to have a free enterprise system, be able to have, you know, capitalism as our system here. And there’s many people and many companies, which seems counterproductive with some of these companies, but they’re really promoting socialism and the global reset and, you know, the statement that you’ll own nothing and you’ll be happy, which is – 


Robert Netzly:  Right.


Linda J. Hansen:  – a true, you know, effort on the behalf of many. And so, it becomes almost like an oligarchy, where the government and these big, big, big businesses then, you know, take control. But we can push back and we can make a difference by using our voice, but using an informed voice and being reasonable and professional, and honoring. But really bringing truth to them and helping them see another side. I often, you know, in my podcast, I really try to help employers educate employees about these issues, every issue that we discuss, how it affects their jobs, how it affects their families. What would you tell employers about how they should, you know, discuss these issues with their employees?


Robert Netzly:  Well, first, I mean, the obvious answer is take a look at your 401K menu, your fund lineup. Is it 100% BlackRock funds? You know, because that’s a very slanted, jaded, you know, extreme viewpoint from the Progressive Left. You’re allowing BlackRock who has openly said they’re, you know, pushing for Progressive Left agendas, and they’re getting to use your employee's dollars to cast votes towards those ends. If your employees don’t agree with that, you got to ask yourself, are you being a fiduciary for those employees or are you giving them another option? 


You don’t have to get rid of BlackRock, but is there any – who else can you put into the platform, right? It’s not just BlackRock, Vanguard and, you know, the list goes on. Think about the viewpoints that are expressed through those shareholder proxies and giving employees, are there any faith-based funds? Are there any funds, you know, that are from managed with a conservative versus liberal viewpoint towards ESG-type issues? There’s lots of ways you can think about that if that’s in your purview. 


The other thing is considering employee resource groups. This is something that comes up with us in our screening on companies. Just about every company now has employee resource groups of some sort that are called ERGs. And, you know, typically there – maybe there’s a Veteran’s ERG or oftentimes as a diversity or some sort of LGBT ERG, and usually, there’s a faith-based or many faith-based ERGs, but not in every company. And in fact, there’s far fewer in my experience that have faith-based ERGs than like an LGBT diversity sort of ERG. 


And some of these companies have asked that question, too, and they just – they don’t have a good answer why they don’t allow their faith-based employees because they have the same rights in their company, the same, you know, opportunities to gather together like-minded people and with it often come with corporate budgets to support parades and events, and all sorts of things at their discretion to support their particular ERG viewpoints. 


So, if you’re an employee or an employer, and you’re at whatever company, start an ERG, like ask somebody to do that, talk to your HR. Every business should have an employee resource group that allows Christians or other people of faith to get together and pray together at lunch and get a corporate budget to support whatever issue is important, too, just like they do other employee groups, you know, at your employer. We can’t have a double standard there and we need to just ask humbly and graciously and, you know, expect that our companies or employers respect us and allow us to bring our whole selves to work, right? Here we are. We work here.


Linda J. Hansen:  Right. And that brings up a good point about, again, being informed and the power of the individual because whether you are an employer who’s seeking to help educate and inform your employees, or whether you might be an employee who has become aware of these issues and you really want to learn more about the funds that are offered through your company, and maybe there’s not a choice. Maybe you are the one who can help bring about the opportunity for choice for all the other employees. So, don’t be afraid to keep learning and to speak up and to, you know, use your voice to promote the values in which you believe. So, that’s what this country is about.


Robert Netzly:  Right.


Linda J. Hansen:  You know, we have our rights. We have our First Amendment rights. You know, we have our rights to speak up and make a difference. And so, Robert, before we close, do you have any other recommendations for the listeners, as they think about these issues in their own life or in their businesses?


Robert Netzly:  Yeah, about practical steps. Again, first thing is know what you own. You can go on and do the screening yourself. I would be remiss to say that – to mention, we do something called an Impact Report. So, if you want to really kind of full-orbed review of your investments, you can go to InspireInvesting.com, and you can find a link there. Just e-mail our general e-mail box and request an impact report.


So, if you give us the ticker symbols, we don’t need account numbers or anything like that, you know, ticker symbols and like percentages in your portfolio, just very basic, you know, mundane information. Our staff is happy to produce a report for you for free, no obligation, no strings attached, shows you all the nitty gritty, again, bad, good and ugly of what you’re invested in from a values-based perspective. 


We’ll also include a performance analysis of your current portfolio compared to performance of a portfolio that’s been sort of cleaned up and aligned with biblical values, you can see is it better or is it worse? And then a third piece because of our giving pledge at Inspire, we donate 50% of our net profits to Christian ministries. If you were to invest with us, we’ll show you how much money could be going to support clean water and get Bibles in North Korea or, you know, save babies through pro-life counseling and all sorts of things. So, I just encourage you to request an Impact Report. We’re happy to do that or you can do it yourself on InpireInsight.com.


Linda J. Hansen:  Well, those are really great tips for the listeners. So, again, could you please give the website one more time?


Robert Netzly:  Yeah, so we’ve got a lot of websites. I know we got a lot going on. 


Linda J. Hansen:  Right. Well, the main one.


Robert Netzly:  The easiest one to remember is InspireInvesting.com. So, InspireInvesting.com and you can find everything we’re doing there, links to all the other businesses, and all the articles and videos, and all the wonderful things and Inspire land, InspireInvesting.com.


Linda J. Hansen:  Well, that is really helpful and I’m sure if listeners want to get in contact with you personally, they can do so through that website also. Correct?


Robert Netzly:  Yeah, it will go to our team and, you know, it’ll filter its way over to me. 


Linda J. Hansen:  Okay, wonderful. Well, thank you so much for taking time for this interview. Well, actually, two interviews that we did because this is just such an important topic and I think people are becoming more aware. And so, having educational tools that will help them make better financial decisions and better spiritual decisions if they’re people of faith. So, anyone who’s listening, I invite you to reach out to Inspire Investing, and it’s just really a great resource for everyone. So, thank you so much for what you’re doing and how you’re impacting our culture with faith-based values and resources. Thank you.


Robert Netzly:  Thanks. My pleasure. Thank you for having me.


Linda J. Hansen:  Thank you again for listening to the Prosperity 101 Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share, and leave a great review. Don’t forget to visit Prosperity101.com to access the entire podcast library, to order my newest book, Job Security Through Business Prosperity: The Essential Guide to Understanding How Policy Affects Your Paycheck, or to enroll you or your employees in the Breakroom Economics online course. You can also receive the free e-book, 10 Tips for Helping Employees Understand How Public Policy Affects Paychecks. 


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