In his debut book “Investing with Integrity,” Spokane-based financial adviser Loran Graham argues that Christians can and should honor God through their fiscal investments.
The book emphasizes the national movement of Biblically Responsible Investing (BRI), which holds that believers’ investment choices should align with their values.
According to the Christian Investment Forum, BRI is a term coined about 15 years ago to describe an approach to investing assets in a way that aligns with an investor’s faith and biblical beliefs.
“The idea is that you look at what activities, products or services a company provides and what impact that has on others in society,” Graham said recently.
If a company has caused physical or mental harm by exploiting a gambling addiction, for example, then that’s not a company a Christian should invest in, Graham said.
John Siverling, executive director of the Christian Investment Forum, said being a Christian investor doesn’t have to mean investing strictly in Christian companies but in those that meet social and faith-based criteria.
Graham said many people own stocks through their mutual funds but don’t know what stocks they own. A financial adviser, Graham said, can help people have more control over that.
“It doesn’t make someone a better Christian to have a personal portfolio,” Graham said. “It’s not an act of self-righteousness. I’m most passionate about the larger population, which is to have every Christian believe and invest this way, which would have a significant, collective impact on the capital market.”
In the book Graham, 37, writes that Biblically Responsible Investing is also about financial gain and leaving a legacy.
“We want to support companies that are making a positive impact, but at the same time we can’t forget the reason for investing, which is to aim for a return on investment and to meet our individual family needs,” he said.
He said Christian investors have an opportunity to train the next generation of stewards by modeling behaviors and teaching children about compassion in the marketplace.
Graham and his wife, Kjirstin, have 4-year-old twins. Graham is also a certified public accountant and serves on a number of nonprofit boards, including the YMCA of the Inland Northwest, Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery and the Inland Northwest Community Foundation.
He said he felt now was the time to publish his book because there seems to be an emerging awareness about conscientious spending.
“I really feel like we’re on the cusp of a much larger movement that’s just getting underway. You can see it even with millennials, who are very much cause-driven,” he said. “It’s exciting. If more investors start asking for this way of investing, then that will put the pressure on firms to offer it. If we change the way Wall Street operates and does business, there really is the potential to change the world.”
Rob West, president of Kingdom Advisors, a nationwide community of Christian financial professionals, said there’s an interest in faith-based investing because money is a reflection of one’s heart.
“When we invest in a company, or give to an organization, we’re more interested in what they’re doing. Our heart follows the money,” he said. “Money is a barometer of our heart. And it goes all the way back to the Bible (Matthew 6:21).”