Christian ESG

USA

Christian take on ESG

Inspire, the Christian ETF provider, is listing a new ETF that gives a different take on ESG. 

The Inspire Tactical Balanced ESG ETF (RISN) will be actively managed. It will run a multi-asset strategy and aim to dive in and out of stocks, bonds, gold and other ETPs depending on the company’s reading of the market. 

The fund’s point of difference will be its use of a Christian ESG screen. This will involve screening out the usual baddies of alcohol, tobacco, porn, weapons, human rights abuses, environmental degradation etc. But will then go further and take out companies that support gay marriage, produce abortion-related material and – very interestingly – companies that spend a lot on lobbying and trying to “capture” politics. 

The fund charges 0.84% a year. 

Analysis – who gets to decide what’s ESG?

ESG ETFs continue to roll in, thanks to fund managers looking for a higher-margin products in this era of commoditisation. 

While they’ve become a common part of the funds management landscape, ESG ETFs continue to alienate people – and for obvious reasons. 

One reason is that the motive for launching ESG ETFs is pure profit – the same as any other fund launch. Yet fund managers launching ESG ETF have felt compelled to disguise the profit motive behind this “saving the planet, rainbows and unicorns, let’s all hold hands” rhetoric. Marketing is one thing. But the moralising marketing coming from ESG ETF providers is quite another. 

The second reason is that many ESG advocates are self-righteous. At their worst, these advocates – the “woke mob” – can try and get you fired when you express opinions they disagree with. We all know what’s happening on Twitter. 

Behind these alienations lies an important question for ETF providers: who gets to decide what’s ESG?