Since 2019, financial technology firm Inspire Investing has offered a selection of its products under a “faith-based ESG” label in hopes that doing so would bring much-needed parity to a landscape often dominated by forces hostile to the free market.
Not anymore, writes CEO Robert Netzly. After spending the better part of four years trying to salvage what they saw as the redeemable goals bound up in the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing framework, Netzly and his team—which manages over $2 billion in assets—encountered a rising fanaticism that led them to change course.
Netzly, who serves on the Viewpoint Diversity Score advisory council, explains:
“We knew at the time that our conservative, biblical investment strategies that fight against the abortion industry, uphold traditional beliefs on gender and sexuality and in many other ways advocate for biblical values to be respected by corporations around the world, put us squarely in the minority among ESG asset managers.”
Yet, in recent months, Inspire’s minority status among ESG asset managers became less tenable.
“[T]he burning intolerance of the left hit a gas line in the ESG party hall, escalating the flames to such heights that it has become necessary for us to abandon the building before its torched remains collapse upon our head,” Netzly writes. “The fire has gone out of control, the building is lost, and now all there is left to do is ensure that the inferno does not spread to surrounding buildings and cause collateral damage.”
While Inspire Investing’s change is noteworthy, it’s also not just conservatives who are stepping away from the ESG approach. Earlier this summer, The Economist ran a lengthy, scathing piece concluding that, “the term ESG should be scrapped” in favor of better-defined metrics that don’t make the mistake of “lump[ing] together a dizzying array of objectives.”
Read Netzly’s entire statement here.