The Methodist Foundation for Arkansas partners with Wespath Institutional Investments, 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, MFA Senior Vice President and CFO. “In addition, Wespath shares our 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 and Director of Institutional Relationships, 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.
Foundation fund holders choose between three investment pools made up of Wespath managed funds.
- The Income Pool is the most conservative group of investments, made up of bond portfolios, and fixed income products.
- The Growth Pool holds U.S. and global equity portfolios.
- The Blended Pool, where most of the MFA assets reside, is made up of 65 percent equity and 35 percent fixed income products.
“Karen sees herself as an extension of our 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 MFA 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 MFA, but also with the individual donors, local churches, and institutional investors who entrust their funds to the Foundation,” Karen said.