The United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas partners with Wespath Investment Management, a division of the not-for-profit Wespath Benefits and Investments, an agency of the United Methodist Church, to meet the Foundation’s investment goals.
With more than $23 billion in managed client assets, Wespath is the largest reporting faith-based investor in the United States. “Their size gives them clout and a seat at the table that offers benefits that wouldn’t otherwise be available,” said Clarence Trice, UMFA Senior Vice President and CFO. “In addition, Wespath shares our United Methodist values and works to ensure investments meet standards of social responsibility in line with the Book of Discipline.”
Karen Manczko, the Foundation’s Wespath representative, tells the story of how her organization helped make a significant difference in the lives of child workers in West Africa through its influence with the Hershey Company. Wespath, which holds a significant amount of stock in the company, learned about Hershey’s CocoaLink program that provides education and support to cocoa farmers in Ghana. Wespath staff members, partnering with United Methodist Women, asked Hershey to consider producing one of its products using 100 percent fair trade chocolate. That led to the successful “Bliss” line of chocolate bars and Hershey’s additional $10 million commitment to reduce child labor and improve the cocoa supply from West Africa.
The story about the Hershey Company shows that Wespath is a strong advocate for sustainable investment strategies, including policies that strive to add financial value through seeking to protect the environment, improve global health, and promote corporate responsibility.
UMFA fund holders choose between three investment pools, each comprised of Wespath managed funds. The Income Pool is the most conservative group of investments, and includes bond portfolios and fixed income products. The Growth Pool holds U.S. and global equity portfolios. The Balanced Pool, where most of the UMFA assets reside, is made up of 65 percent equity and 35 percent fixed income products.
“Karen sees herself as an extension of our UMFA staff,” Clarence said. “That level of commitment is demonstrated every day in Wespath’s responsiveness to me and all the staff. They definitely go above and beyond.”
Wespath offers marketing support and leads the bi-annual UMFA Investment Forum, an opportunity for local churches and individual donors to hear first-hand the investment philosophy and expertise that Wespath provides. “Our goals are aligned not just with UMFA, but also with the individual donors, local churches, and institutional investors who entrust their funds to the Foundation,” Karen said.