Investing in a Livable Future isn't easy. Seeking to embody your faith and values in your investing is hard work. Our aim is to share stories of some of the leading practitioners, investors, and thinkers striving towards a just and regenerative future. Francesco Collaborative is a U.S.-based network of entrepreneurs, capital stewards, scholars and social movement leaders seeking to draw upon the wisdom of our Catholic lineage to transform the economy to support our shared human and planetary flourishing.
Does seeking perpetuity with our endowment lead us to vice? The sneakiness of greed and how it (often unknowingly) shows up - with Luke Bretherton
I learned a new word last week from Luke: pleonexia. So I thought I would share the discussion that ensued.
In philanthropy and investing, I often hear family/board members carry the weight of:
"I need to invest our assets so the mission (grant-making) can continue into perpetuity."
Too often, what’s crouching right alongside that desire to evaluate the investment manager based on whether they’re getting that 8% percent return or not is what Luke Bretherton helps us see as pleonexia (greed).
We were reading Colossians together when the greek word pleonexia first arose and that's what led me to be curious about the "vortex" that Luke described. In this conversation Luke brings Aristotle and Plato as well as the Gospels of Matthew and Mark to help us understand and better see our mandate as ethical stewards of endowment assets
Luke helps us unpack our primary call as Christians — to love God and our neighbor and together we try to apply that to the times in our lives when we do investing -- especially on behalf of foundations or family offices.
Luke makes practical theology accessible. This is the work the Francesco Collaborative picks up on and develops further in our Livable Future Investing workshop community -- where we seek to lift up specific examples of funds, enterprises, investment opportunities where we can live out what's described here.
My favorite part is in the last two minutes
“This is not a condemnation…” Luke clarifies... and invites us into what I see is our most important work.
Luke offers a blessing that invites us to truthfulness and forgiveness.
For me, it begs the question: Am I telling myself the truth about my investments?
In my focus on trying to get a 5% return -- am I subordinating my faith to the vortex of money begetting more money and not the good of the city... and my desire to love God above all else?
Luke Bretherton is Robert E. Cushman Distinguished Professor of Moral and Political Theology and senior fellow of the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University. Before joining the Duke faculty in 2012, he was reader in Theology & Politics and convener of the Faith & Public Policy Forum at King's College London. His latest book is Christ and the Common Life: Political Theology and the Case for Democracy (Eerdmans, 2019). His other books include Resurrecting Democracy: Faith, Citizenship and the Politics of a Common Life (Cambridge University Press, 2015).
Mark Watson - Black Farmers, Potlikker Capital & the Integrator role that helps focus on the Outcomes and Impact we most want to achieve
Mark Watson spent 30 years in corporate and public finance. Several years ago, he started consulting for the Fair Food Network and Boston Impact Initiative and started seeing significant gaps in how most impact investing wasn't moving the needle on the impact they claimed they wanted to see. For example only one Black Farmer amongst many -- despite the program being about racial equity.
In response, Mark started Potlikker Capital - https://www.potlikkercapital.com/ - as an integrator. Where other lenders' credit boxes prevent them from extending access to capital (especially to BIPOC farmers), Potlikker seeks to fill in the gaps, and organize capital stewards to see the transformation they could be about -- when there is a "Market Administrator" that sits in the middle and helps all parties stay focused on the core outcomes they're most trying to achieve.
Potlikker Capital is a farm community governed charitable integrated capital fund created to holistically serve BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) farmers in America who operate at the intersection of racial and climate justice.
Mark Watson is Co-founder and President of Potlikker Capital, a farm community governed charitable integrated capital fund dedicated to supporting BIPOC farmers at the intersection of racial and climate justice. Potlikker Capital is a supporting entity to Jubilee Justice. He also serves as Senior Investment Strategist, after serving as Managing Director of the Fair Food Fund, which offers catalytic capital with a social equity lens to improve community access to healthy food and increase wealth through more local ownership of the means of the production and distribution of food. He is also the founder of Keel Asset Management LLC, a financial advisory firm that provides socially responsible financial planning and investment advisory services to nonprofits, public and corporation pension plans. Mr. Watson started his career as a banker at the First National Bank of Chicago, now JP Morgan in commercial banking, corporate and public finance. He had a 30-year career which included managing investment portfolios for foundations, endowments, and institutional pensions funds. Most recently, Mr. Watson co-designed and launched an integrated racial justice capital fund, The Boston Impact Initiative Fund and managed the deployment of capital to over 30 small businesses. Mark continues as an investment committee member of the Boston Impact Initiative Fund; an advisory board Member of MIT/Health Innovation Systems Inc.; Director of Transition of The Institute of Educational Leadership; board president of Sustainable Cape, Inc.; and a former board member of the Social Venture Network. Mr. Watson holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance, University of Illinois Champaign -Urbana and a Master’s in Business Administration, The Booth School, University of Chicago.
Taj James - How to listen and reconnect to wisdom - especially with our financial resource stewardship
Taj James offers a re-conceptualization of how we think about the financial resources we steward. And the ecosystems around us. And the choices we have.
There is so much to be shifted.
There is so much to acknowledge.
To reconnect to wisdom, we need to listen to each other and to the Spirit.
We need to bring our wisdom to all domains.
We cut off the sacred from our business and investing domains -- unless we see how much fear is embedded. Can we move away from the dehumanizing fear beneath racism, militarism and greed?
Taj brings his poetry and spiritual depth to this prophetic excerpt.
Taj James founded Full Spectrum Capital Partners - https://fullspectrumcapitalpartners.us -- after 20 years building the Movement Strategy Center.
What new pathways and collaborations do you dream of? Elizabeth and Felipe
What do you want to go do?
Have you taken a moment to take stock of who is here in the workshop alongside you? Together, the participants in this workshop steward more than $125 billion in assets.
We also bring a diversity of capabilities and other resource types. Some of us might feel quite small in light of that big number, but might be able to lend our leadership, confidence, conviction. Even a small grant (a -100% investment), can be leveraged to de-risk much larger sums of capital to allow new pathways to get built.
What do you dream of? What can you imagine when you see the different foundations, dioceses, religious congregations, catholic healthcare investors, associations, fund managers and others that are present here in this workshop?
If we decided to speak with one voice, that could have a pretty powerful influence on many, many others.
Recalling the envelope ritual from our first session, let's continue to put aside our fears, constraints, and obstacles just for this last couple weeks of this workshop. What collaborations can you imagine?
We want to know your dream.
We want to come alongside you and help make that happen.
Can impact investing transform our way of being in the world? with Dr. Stephanie Gripne, Impact Finance Center
"What excites you?" is the question Dr. Steph advises folks to start with when recognizing an "impact investing" journey can often feel overwhelming: the governance, philanthropy, public and direct investing implications. In this interview, Dr. Steph tells a couple powerful stories about a small foundation and a division of the Walton foundation and how through their work with her and the Impact Finance Center, they began to find new ways around the blockages that often hold us back.
The role of the heart, and being "brave" capital stewards, figured more prominently than I had expected. Topics that get cover include full spectrum capital (understanding how powerful negative returns can be) to creating "T-ball" like environments (safe learning spaces) for capital stewards (or simulations) can help, to how her Impact Investing Institute (200 slide presentations and 75 recordings) can be a barnacle to any organization -- to help equip and support the restoration of an ecology that facilitates more impact investing.
With a PhD in Forest Ecology, Dr. Steph has wonderful metaphors and specific words, we hope you'll be moved to adopt and contribute to the growing ecosystem.
More info at: https://www.impactfinancecenter.org
10. What does impact look like in Fixed Income? with Tom Marthaler, retired Neuberger Berman
Tom Marthaler currently serves on the impact investing committee with the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. Tom spent 40 years in investment management. Most recently he spent 13 years at Neuberger Berman and was a named manager on several US-domiciled funds, including the $2.6 billion Neuberger Berman Strategic Income fund.
In this conversation, Tom gives an overview of the different bond market segments and opportunities for impact. He starts with some distinctions in corporate bonds, then government and mortgage-backed securities. He also offers some helpful commentary around extractive and non-extractive ways investors can act -- and how important flexibility can be.
Towards the second half of the conversation, Tom also reflects on his experience as an advisor and offers some insight on how he encourages clients (investors) to ask their advisors about ESG and their impact aspirations -- and discern how far they've gone, how much they've thought about integrating these questions into their approach and process.
The part I love best is where Tom describes what CST-embodied flexibility looks like -- and how we can be non-extractive in our fixed income holdings.