Patrick Gallagher ’83 | May 27, 2020
If there are no atheists in foxholes, are there any faith-consistent investors during an economic crisis? Jim Ryan ’76 knows there are.
In the first couple months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ryan and his Bank of America Merrill Lynch team devoted to socially responsible investing (SRI) heard from clients, often religious institutions, concerned about the potential financial fallout. Those conversations, Ryan says, were “more focused on fulfilling the ministry.” They knew that to fill the food pantry or meet increasing demand for scholarships, “they might have to eat into endowments to cover needs,” but they did not talk about changing their investment values.
At the same time, “We reminded them that in addition to screening out companies, our managers take environmental, social and governance factors into account” — a common SRI approach and one Ryan says resonates with Catholic social teachings. “This results in buying stronger companies,” he adds, “and stronger companies are better able to withstand this downturn.”
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