For over 30 years Chris McMahonThe CEO of Aquinas Wealth Advisors, has advised his clients in the areas of comprehensive financial planning, asset allocation, retirement planning and estate tax minimization techniques.
Russ Alan Prince: Tell us a little about Aquinas Wealth Advisors℠ and the passion for faith-based investing that led you to found the firm.
Chris McMahon: Aquinas Wealth Advisors℠ was born out of our clients’ desire to connect their financial lives with their religious lives. In this age of ever-accelerating information, it’s easy for investors to feel overwhelmed. In particular, we were hearing from our Catholic clients that there is an incredible amount of noise that investors need to sift through and very little information on how to assess the alignment of their investments with their deepest beliefs. This has become a much bigger issue over the past ten years as money managers and corporate officers have become much more socially active. Their actions have left many faith-based investors feeling marginalized, frustrated and powerless.
The only possible recourse that trust-based investors had was a small number of mutual funds that would screen for potential trust violations. Unfortunately, these funds are not widely distributed and may only make up a small portion of an investor’s overall portfolio, leaving large potential breaches in their accounts. Until now, there was no way for clients to pull back the curtain on their investments and see a more complete inventory of what their dollars were supporting.
With this as a background, Aquinas was founded with the hope of using the latest technology to empower investors to dig deeper into their accounts and fully understand their ability to stop supporting unethical activities and causes. Theirs.
prince: How does the technology behind the Faith & Finance Score℠ go beyond other screening tools? How does it differ from ESG controllers?
McMahon: Aquinas puts technology directly in the hands of the investor. Before that, clients had to rely on their advisor and hope that they could subscribe to some monitoring service that would give them a picture of how their portfolio aligned with their values. Often advisors either talked clients out of the idea of investing in the trust or suggested it was too difficult based on the ability of corporations to make donations through their foundations and other avenues. Finally, some advisors may be employed by firms that are supportive of some of the activities that are in direct conflict with the standards of the faith-based investor. The Faith & Finance℠ score is a game changer. Now customers have the power in their hands to do a more complete analysis of all their holdings.
Using the Faith & Finance Score℠ tool, investors can quickly and efficiently access a comprehensive report on the performance and faith alignment of their dollars. The process allows clients to link their current investment accounts to a secure portal and receive their Trust and Finance Score℠ in minutes. The technology produces a powerful report that includes detailed reporting on the involvement of companies and the support of offending organizations. Potentially conflicting trust activities are clearly identified. Investors see violations in individual securities they own as well as securities held within funds.
As for how this differs from other screening technologies, I’m not sure there are any ESG screeners out there that can evaluate a portfolio so holistically. Aquinas’ technology analyzes an investor’s holdings in a way that few screening technologies can match and is poised to set a new standard in the field.
prince: What do you see on the horizon for faith-based and value-based investing, even beyond Catholic clients? Are priorities changing in this space?
McMahon: It’s no secret that we’re seeing hot button issues and how companies are responding to them more often in the news. There have been some debates about how corporations are allocating their funds to various causes, and different people feel differently about the issue. I think you will see more and more push in line with Aquinas’ mission statement to allow investors to see corporations beyond their business case.
People want to know what companies are doing with their social investments and, if possible, ensure that their portfolio is aligned with their principles. Aquinas has seen constant change in this space with ESG investing and value-based investing, and our hope is that we have created an infrastructure to stay at the forefront of this ever-changing landscape.
As we look to the future, we want to bring the technology behind the Faith & Finance Score℠ and adapt it to cater to investors of other Christian faiths who may be interested in this level of transparency. We see opportunities to grow from there into other markets—whether from Aquinas or elsewhere, I fully expect to see more offerings focused on transparency in the investment realm.
RUSS ALAN PRINCE is CEO of Private Wealth magazine (pw-mag.com) and Chief Content Officer for High-Net-Worth Genius (hnwgenius.com). He consults with family offices, rich, fast entrepreneurs and select professionals.
Advisory services are provided by Moralis Technologies, LLC d/b/a Aquinas Wealth Advisors℠ (“Aquinas Wealth Advisors℠”), an investment advisor registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Registration does not imply a particular level of skill or training. Aquinas Wealth Advisors℠ may conduct business only in those states in which the notice is filed or qualifies for an appropriate exemption from these requirements. For information regarding Aquinas Wealth Advisors℠’s registration status and business operations, please consult the firm’s Form ADV filings, the most recent versions of which are available on the Adviser’s Public Disclosure website. SEC Investments at www.adviserinfo.sec.gov.
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