Socially responsible mutual fund company enacts new screening criteria in wake of recent mass shootings
FALLS CHURCH, Virginia, Dec. 9, 2015 — Azzad Asset Management, investment advisor to the Azzad Funds, announced today that it has finalized a gun-free investing policy that prohibits it from investing in companies that manufacture the weapons that have been used in mass shootings and other gun violence in the United States.
The firm’s investment committee identified three companies in particular that benefit from the sale of assault weapons: Smith & Wesson (ticker: SWHC), Sturm, Ruger & Company (ticker: RGR), and Olin (ticker: OLN). Both Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger & Company manufacture versions of the assault rifle used in the latest mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. Olin is an ammunition producer.
Azzad does not currently invest in these companies and therefore cannot divest from them, but its investment committee has now explicitly prohibited portfolio managers from purchasing shares of the aforementioned companies.
A mandate for social change
“Investors have the ability to enact social change, and that’s part of our mandate at Azzad,” said Azzad Vice President and investment committee member Jamal Elbarmil. “Socially responsible mutual funds have an obligation on behalf of their shareholders to stop financially supporting companies that help enable the gun violence that has gripped our nation for too long.”
A recent statement by Boston-based NorthStar Asset Management, Inc., cited Bloomberg data claiming that approximately 15% of the outstanding shares of Smith & Wesson stock are held in mutual funds. It went on to say that retirement platforms Vanguard and Fidelity offer Smith & Wesson stock through their retail mutual funds.
The total value of those holdings is $60 million and $54 million, respectively. Retirement investors often own and profit from these investments without their knowledge.
Azzad applies a variety of faith-based, socially responsible investment criteria to its mutual funds and other portfolios. In addition to avoiding companies that profit from tobacco, alcohol, gambling, financial services, and pornography, Azzad also filters out defense contractors and companies that are involved in hydraulic fracturing or that do not comply with the UN Global Compact on human rights, labor, the environment, and anti-corruption.
Excerpt: Ethical investing’s 4 basic principles
- Screen for ethical and socially responsible companies you can respect
- Make your voice heard on corporate governance matters of importance
- Strive for financial freedom for yourself and your family
- Leverage your generosity to benefit your favorite charitable causes for a brighter tomorrow
Learn more about Azzad’s Ethical Investing Philosophy.
Azzad Asset Management, investment advisor to the Azzad Funds and sponsor of the Azzad Ethical Wrap Program, is committed to providing investment services designed to help people enjoy optimum performance without compromising their values. Azzad is a member of the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment and the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions. The firm, based outside Washington, D.C., is a registered investment advisor with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.