Put Your Money Where Your Faith Is

How Can Faith and Finances Work Together?

By Gerald Korson

Does it make any difference which companies you support with your business? Perhaps it should.

Businesses seek to make money, and many companies invest their earnings in stocks or mutual funds. They also often make generous contributions to nonprofit organizations as part of their charitable outreach. Not only is it good for business, but people have come to expect no less.

“Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose,” writes Larry Fink, CEO of the $6.3 trillion asset-management firm BlackRock, in a recent letter to corporate executives announcing changes in his own firm’s investment strategy. “To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.”

Increasingly, companies are taking a new look at where and how they invest. Under broad principles of “socially responsible investing” (SRI), sometimes referred to as “environmental, social and governance investing” (ESG), corporate investment managers are making decisions based on selected ethical factors — eschewing the tobacco industry, for example, or favoring initiatives that address concerns over global warming.

That’s all well and good. The trouble is, not everyone agrees on what ethical investing means. The key question is: Whose ethics? What moral guidelines inform a company’s investment decisions? In practice, the principles of “socially responsible investing” vary widely from company to company.

As a result, even when it claims to invest ethically, a company’s mutual funds portfolio or charitable giving initiatives might include support of industries, objectives or initiatives that are incompatible with Catholic moral and social teaching.

Customers and clients often have no sway over how the businesses they support invest their money, and even to acquire such information may require a little digging. But a little knowledge can go a long way in helping a man of faith make insurance decisions he can feel good about.

You may not be morally culpable for what your insurance company does with its profits. But it probably would make you feel a whole lot better if you knew your premiums went to a company that supports the same faith-based values as you do. Maybe it’s time to ask which insurance company can be fully trusted to affirm those values in both its investments and its charitable giving.

Your Money. Your Values

For Catholics, it simply seems prudent to go with a company that “thinks with the Church” and abides by her moral and ethical principles — a company in which faith and finances work together. 

That’s what makes Knights of Columbus insurance stand apart. Its investment managers examine all transactions meticulously to ensure they meet the exacting standards of Catholic moral and social teaching. Their policyholders expect nothing less.

“We exclude any company engaged in activity that conflicts with Catholic moral teaching: companies directly involved in abortion, contraception, human cloning, embryonic stem cell research, for-profit health care that pays for any of these, or pornography,” says Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, CEO of the Knights of Columbus since 2000. “There are many companies in the pharmaceutical and communications industries that would undoubtedly provide excellent returns for us, but which are not in our portfolio because they engage in research and development or programming in ways that violate the sanctity or dignity of human life.”

As a Catholic fraternal benefits organization that offers life insurance, long-term care insurance, disability income insurance, and retirement annuities to its members, the Knight of Columbus is committed to operating in harmony with Catholic principles:

  • It invests morally, in keeping with guidelines published by the U.S. bishops.
  • It operates ethically, too, having just been named a “World’s Most Ethical Companies Honoree” by the Ethisphere Institute for the fifth consecutive year — one of only three life insurance companies to receive that esteemed designation in 2018.

“We are grateful for this honor because it recognizes that our commitment to corporate ethics and integrity is part of our founding mission and continues to be our highest priority,” says Anderson. “Based on Catholic values, this commitment extends to every aspect of our work, our corporate governance, our professional agency force, our investments, and our day-to-day business operations.”

  • It supports the Catholic Church and its ministries, contributing $48 million dollars to support various programs such as religious vocations, Catholic communications, and the pope’s charitable outreach.
  • It contributes generously to worthy charitable causes, with insurance revenues comprising most of the $1.55 billion donated over the last decade to assist pro-life causes, victims of natural disasters, persecuted Christians, and other initiatives.
  • It has no stockholders, and so it exists to serve its policyholders and their families first.

Those are the principles with which the Knights of Columbus insurance program was founded in the late 19th century by Venerable Father Michael McGivney, and those are the principles that sustain its work today.

“Faithful Catholics have choices when buying life insurance,” said Anderson. “But they know that at the Knights of Columbus their policy is supplied by an insurer that shares their moral and ethical values and is guided in all of its investment and sales practices by those values.”

When it comes to choosing an insurance company, it’s best to put your money where your faith is. That’s the Catholic difference. 

To find a local Knights of Columbus field agent, visit kofc.org/findagent or call 1-800-345-5632.

About the Author

Gerald Korson is a veteran Catholic writer and editor.

Action Points

  1. As a Catholic, does your faith guide your actions and decisions outside of “church time”?
  2. Think of any aspects of your work or financial life that may not be in keeping with the values you seek to uphold.
  3. How important would it be for you to do business with a company that shares your values?