2,000-year-old investing strategy
BY MICHAEL SWAN
The Catholic Register
Updated Monday, August 15, 2005
Ron Robins has an approach to the market that’s about
2,000 years old. “As you sow, so shall you reap,” opines
the founder of Investing for the Soul, a Toronto-based
company that tells people how to employ their religious
values when they invest.
There’s more to it than quoting St. Paul’s admonitions
to the Galatians. Ethical investing is hard work, Robins
told The Catholic Register. It requires some clear
thinking and serious research.
But it’s not impossible, and it doesn’t mean settling
for lower returns, he said.
“People who are interested in religion and spiritual
development should be at the forefront of socially
responsible investing,” said Robins.
Most investors, 80 per cent according to some surveys,
do want to know more about incorporating their values
into their portfolios. But they are put off by the
dominant investment culture. Only eight per cent of
investment advisors bring up values issues with their
clients, according to Robins.
Few investment professionals are comfortable talking
about the ethical and the spiritual. They talk numbers,
trends, the next big thing. While they typically advise
investors to think long term, the daily business press,
the stock tickers on the bottom of so many TV screens,
the Internet chat rooms, headlines about quarterly
results and anticipated quarterly results all conspire
to drown out the long-term mantra.
Robins, who has practised transcendental meditation for
35 years, knows how to counter the buy-now-quick-profits
mantra with one of his own.
In his seminars, Robins provides investors with simple
tools for making a systematic inventory of their values.
When they’re done, investors should have a neat, clear
hierarchy of values they would like to see reflected in
Robins then shows people in his seminars how to
translate that list of values into investment decisions.
And if you’re true to the system you will probably make
money, according to Robins. When investors lose money
it’s usually because they are buying stocks based on the
latest headlines and gut feelings, rather than research
and reflection, he said.
“Most investors do not perform anywhere near the market
averages,” he said. “They get caught up in the mass
Values are not the mass psychology, and research often
runs counter to the headlines.
The key is learning how to do the research. About half
of the largest 500 companies now produce annual
environmental or social reports. Robins coaches his
students in how to read those reports, in addition to
annual financial statements, company web sites, company
reports by Bay Street analysts and other sources.
Robins admits that investors could learn to do this
research on their own, but he believes it simply helps
to have an experienced coach to help things along.
“I shortcut the process,” he said.
For Robins, who spent years as an analyst before he
launched Investing for the Soul, encouraging investors
to invest according to their values fits with his own
“I really want to see spiritual values reflected in
society,” he said.
You can learn more about how Robins incorporates the
spiritual in investing at his web site,
His next three-hour seminar is at Toronto’s George Brown
College, Sept. 29, 6:15 to 9:15 p.m. The seminar costs
$91. Register by e-mailing
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