Christian Brothers Services’ 2017 acquisition of BMT Management & Financial Consultants brought with it the company’s wealth of experience, including one of its areas of expertise for investment consulting and developing socially responsible portfolios.
BMT’s client base is entirely composed of religious organizations and their sponsored ministries. This client base deserves credit for being pioneers in Socially Responsible Investing (SRI),taking care to avoid investments in companies participating in businesses that are inconsistent with their Catholic values and choosing to pursue shareholder advocacy through proxy voting and engagement with management.
A desire to see their beliefs reflected in their investment portfolios is evident in the investment guidelines of these clients. They have long included encouragement of a proactive approach in seeking out companies that consider the following criteria:
• a dedication to respect and enhance the quality of life with attention to fair labor practices and equal opportunity employment
• a commitment to make environmental stewardship a priority, working to address
climate change and resource scarcity
• the drive to address health care access and income inequalities
BMT is privileged to provide investment consulting services to 80 organizations with $2.8 billion of assets. BMT investment consulting clients range in investment asset value from $500,000 to more than $200 million. In determining the appropriate asset allocation for each client’s various segregated funds, BMT will consider future use of the invested principal compared to known liabilities and liquidity needs. BMT often assists in composing or updating Investment Policy Statements (IPS) and Guidelines for the client.
How does BMT provide this service? BMT is an independent firm not affiliated with any investment management firm, brokerage company or bank. John Tortolani and Bob Moody have provided investment consulting services for the past 46 years with Moody primarily responsible for this service.
Christine Ackert and Eileen Alexanderson, more recent additions, and evidence of BMT’s expanding investment consulting services, come with strong backgrounds in the investment management industry.
Ackert worked for 21 years as an independent investment adviser, providing special attention to social responsibility requirements of the firm’s clients.
“Through my previous employment, I had the pleasure of knowing and working with BMT for over 20 years. Having been educated at Catholic schools through the university level, I am pleased to be a part of the BMT team and work more closely with such a well-respected and admired client base,” said Ackert.
Alexanderson spent 24 years at Lazard Asset Management, an institutional money management firm, first as an analyst, then as a portfolio manager and Managing Director of U.S. equities. Alexanderson has been a longtime member of a
number of investment committees for Catholic groups.
“I am proud to serve this client base which is responsible for a good part of the backbone of our country having built schools and hospitals and attended to some of the most neglected groups of our society with care and dignity,” said Alexanderson.
The pair works to build a complement of investment managers for each client that fits with the established investment and social guidelines. BMT maintains a profile on managers it has vetted for potential use by clients. Investment managers on BMT’s approved list acknowledge the relevance of Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG)factors to long-term value creation and have defined systems in place to provide both positive and negative SRI/ESG screening in developing their portfolios. The approved managers consider both financial fundamentals and social responsibility in vetting investments.
Other BMT investment team members include Richard Ficarrotta, who coordinates the development of quarterly investment performance reports and analyses, and Andrea Costa, who assists in researching potential managers for the BMT approved lists as well as manager compliance to the investment policy statement.
Though for some time, popular belief dictated that strong financial performance and socially responsible investing are mutually exclusive, BMT holds firm that integration of social responsibility and sustainability factors is mutually beneficial on both fronts. Corporations adopting these principles will consistently affirm that social responsibility does not come at the expense of corporate profit. The yield of attention to ESG factors like environmental impact, workplace policies, community impact and sustainable supply chains is greater efficiency, productivity and profitability.
In what is being called another tipping point, akin to the realization that globalization is a big deal, the Harvard Business Review has identified an important shift. Companies are beginning to realize that paying attention to the social consequences of their products is good business. Investors are coming to that realization as well.
In fact, Forbes recently reported that “ESG investing—which assesses companies based in part on their environmental, social, governance policies—is a fast growing segment of the financial landscape … many experts argue that an ESG strategy also leads to better returns.”
In summary, the BMT consultants believe that the excellent, long-term performance of BMT clients’ portfolios, composed of companies with these shared beliefs, is proof positive that there does not have to be a sacrifice in performance attached to socially responsible managed portfolios.
A division of Christian Brothers Services, Brenner, McDonagh & Tortolani (BMT) was founded in 1972. Headquartered in Tarrytown, New York, BMT serves more than 280 Religious Institutes and many sponsored ministries in need of assistance with the management of daily operations including accounting and financial management, benefits eligibility management, human resources, investment consulting and real estate planning and sustainability studies. ☼
For more information about BMT’s Financial Consulting Services, contact Eileen Alexanderson at 914.347.1600 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Christine Ackert at