President & CEO
Tell us why you’re here today.
OK we're here today with Inspire Investing to celebrate the launch of our first two ETF's: the Inspire Global Hope Fund (ticker BLES – Blessed) and Inspire Small-Cap Impact (ticker ISMD). And we’re so excited to be able to bring this to the market. It's been a long road bringing me here and we’re thrilled to announce that they are both in the “Top 10 Most Successful ETF Launches of 2017” so far this year.
Can you tell us a little bit about the history of Inspire Investing?
Inspire Investing came about really due to demand. There are hundreds of millions of investors in this country, and even more around the world, who want to invest with impact according to biblical conservative values—and there's really nothing available to them. The socially responsible impact investing movement has really ignored them, for the most part, and so Inspire was formed to serve those investors’ needs and give them a low-cost index-based investment that makes meaningful impact in the lives of people all over the globe.
Can you talk about Inspire Investing’s origins and its mission as a firm?
Our mission at Inspire Investing is to create meaningful impact in the lives of people all over the world by providing low-cost high-impact solutions. And our origin again is through the demand – we've been working in this industry for several years managing money on a private basis and there was just nothing for the average investor or even institutions to access low-cost impact focused investments that were lined up with biblical values, and so we created these ETFs to serve those investors.
Tell me a little bit more about the strategy behind those funds.
The strategy behind our funds really boils down to our Inspire Impact Score. This is a proprietary methodology we have to identify the most inspiring companies and it focuses on four things. We look for companies that business is (1) a blessing to their customers; (2) blessings to their communities; (3) blessings to the workplace and (4) blessings to the world. And a variety of subcategories including corporate governance, supply chain issues, their level of integrity, environmental issues and the like, that all line up with biblical values. And this Inspire Impact Score will score companies from a negative 100 to a positive 100. Anything above zero we consider investable. But we don’t want to stop there: we actually look for those companies are closest to 100 and we build these Indexes and Index funds out of those.
Each of these funds, both BLES and ISMD, are created of hundreds of most inspiring companies. We equally weight them an index and rebalance it quarterly, so it’s a very rules-based, low-cost way to access inspiring companies. And the performance has been very pleasing.
How does the strategy behind your ETF management differ from picking stocks?
Our strategy is so different from picking stocks. Really, actually, we don't even look at the financials of the company when we invest. We’re only looking at the Inspire Impact Score. And we really didn't know what that would do, you know? We had no idea, really, it was all a big experiment.
But it’s turned out very well. We've been outperforming the S&P, as of today, by about 2 1/2% since we launched six weeks ago. On our Global Hope large-cap funds BLES and ISMD have been outperforming their benchmark, the Russell 2000, by almost a percentage point over the same timeframe. And so we don't look at individual stocks’ performance or anything of that nature. We take a broad-based index approach, filter everything down to our Inspire Impact Score to find those most positive, most inspiring companies, and then just equally weight them in the index and rebalance it quarterly, and let it go.
Are there any other factors that influence your construction process?
Tell us about your corporate giving program.
So with Inspire we are extremely excited - this is what gets us out of bed in the morning – is our “Give 50 Program.” We committed to donate 50% or more of our corporate profits to Christian ministries like World Help, Samaritan’s Purse, International Justice Mission, just to name a few to really deliver that impact.
So we’re involved in right now giving money every month from the fees in these funds to support hundreds of Syrian refugees this year. We just wrote check to dig a clean water well in Nepal as they continue to rebuild from the devastating earthquake they had a couple years ago, and more. And so every dollar that’s invested with our 2 ETFs helps to send more money into projects like this, that again, are changing people's lives for the better.