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Investing the Catholic way
Front Royal firm puts life into its clients’ portfolios
It’s hard to know who to trust with your money — especially these days. But if you’re Catholic, the co-founders of the Front Royal-based Paladin Financial Group argue that you should trust them, and with more than just your money.
Started in 1996 by John Clark and Jim Kelly, Paladin Financial has two goals: to provide solid financial service and to uphold the culture of life.
“We try to live our faith on a daily basis,” Kelly said. “I take joy in working with like-minded Catholics and helping them with their goals.”
But just how do they do that?
Clark, a graduate of Christendom College in Front Royal, said they work with their clients to avoid investing in companies that are involved in abortion, pornography or anything else counter to the culture of life. This means, for example, pharmaceutical companies that produce chemical abortifacients.
“I’m more involved in the field of medical sciences than I would like to be,” he said, adding that he attends Catholic medical conferences as a way of staying up-to-date on the latest developments in medical science and its relationship to Church teaching. “We’re constantly trying to find companies that make sense from a financial perspective, but also ones that are aiding that culture of life.”
Though it may seem like finding these companies is an unrealistically ideal endeavor, Clark said they are more common than some would think.
“There are actually a lot of very ethical companies out there,” he said. “Investing ethically is possible. This is not a dream.”
Paladin Financial recently developed a 401K plan for Human Life International’s (HLI) employees, and it also assists local priests and other Catholic organizations in formulating investment philosophies or helping with retirement plans, Clark said.
Michael Mueller, executive vice president of HLI, said Paladin was a good fit for his company precisely because of its “life-friendly” investment style.
“We try very hard to live the basic moral tenets of the Catholic Faith,” Mueller said. “We do everything that we can reasonably do to ensure that our investment firm is life-friendly and is of good moral character.”
Mueller said Paladin currently is helping HLI connect with a third-party administrator that is open to working with pro-life companies.
“This is the culmination of basically a two-year effort to provide our employees with something they feel comfortable with financially and, from a moral perspective, they feel comfortable investing in,” he said.
Choosing Paladin for financial advice was a “no-brainer” for Father Jerome Magat, parochial vicar of St. William of York. Father Magat, who has both investment and retirement accounts through Paladin, said it’s not only the company’s pro-life approach that is appealing, but that it is competitive in the markets.
“I’m not trying to give my money away,” Father Magat said. “I think they’re trying to combine the best of both worlds.”
Even in the current economic climate, Paladin is sticking to its pro-life guns.
“I really believe that you have to stay true to your mission,” Clark said. “When people work with us they’re trying to find somebody that specializes in what they really believe in — something beyond (investments).”
Though Clark and Kelly started off wanting to inspire their clients, they instead have found themselves on the receiving end of inspiration.
“We see the great things people can do,” Clark said. “We really see God glorified through wealth.”
After all, “the reason why they’re coming to us in the first place is because they’re trying to do the right thing,” not necessarily to maximize their return, Clark said. Though this philosophy may not necessarily make them better investors, “it will give them peace,” he added.
More than one client has called to check on Paladin’s business during this rough economic climate, and to assure Clark and Kelly of their prayers.
“I like to think that all brokers have that experience, but that’s just not realistic,” Clark said. “We’re lucky to be here doing what we’re doing and we feel really honored to be doing it all the time. The more people we can help, the better.”
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