Keith: Ultimately, we prayed and left the decision to God. We felt that this was the direction He wanted our practice to go. Late 2018, the Holy Spirit was moving me to search for a way to make my day to day work more meaningful from an eternal perspective. I wanted to have more Kingdom purpose in my work and that led me to search out Christian Financial Planning and Investing. That was how I found Inspire and read Robert Netzly’s (Inspire’s CEO) story. I thought, “that would be so great to work with these guys who have put it all on the line for their faith and have chosen to not compromise in a very secular industry”. I knew it was a long shot, because we had been with the same company for 25 years. Plus we were not currently running a “Christian” practice and had no money invested in Biblically Responsible Investments. We prayed and prayed and ultimately God made it clear that this was what we had to do!
Keith: Honestly, the hardest part was the unknown. We had been with the same company for 25 years and had no idea how the independent RIA space worked. We were going to have to switch company names, transition all client accounts, adjust our current investment holdings to be BRI, and possibly miss out on a couple months of income while assets transferred to the new custodian. There were so many unknowns and this was the biggest obstacle to overcome, but we knew that if God was truly calling us to make this change, He would guide the process.
Jacob: We scheduled each client and talked to them face to face about the move. We were holding about 30 meetings per week for two months to make sure everyone knew what was going on and could sign the needed transfer paperwork. We explained to them that we felt that we could do a better job with our investment strategies at Inspire Advisors and that Inspire’s overall mission and values more closely aligned with our mission and values.
Keith: Overall the conversation went well, however we did have three clients who did not align with our beliefs and decided to not move with us. The majority of clients were receptive and appreciated that we were trying to improve their investing experience by switching companies. It also opened the door for us to share our beliefs more openly with clients who may not have known where we stood spiritually. We didn’t discuss the spiritual aspects of the move as much with clients we knew were not Christians. And some clients who we were not sure about, ended up being strong believers. It takes you into a deeper knowledge of who your clients really are.
Jacob: We did lose a couple non-Christian clients who were not a fan of mixing business and religion, or did not believe in the values that we stand for at Inspire.
Jacob: We just believed that if this was the move God wanted us to make, He would take care of everything. We lost a couple larger clients, but have remained in touch with them and there were no hard feelings. It was hard to see them go, but we understood that some people may find the truth of God’s word offensive, and that we cannot control their feelings. Our goal was to have every client move over to Inspire with us, but we knew that may not be the reality, and we were willing to trust God with the outcome.
Keith: The biggest struggle that we had was getting all of the work done in a quick time frame. It’s a lot to transition a large practice and Inspire’s home office helped us to put the pieces together and get everything transitioned to the new custodian as efficiently as possible.
Jacob: I was surprised at how quickly we were able to move the assets, and that many of our clients did not like our previous custodian and we didn’t even know it.
Keith: Pray about it, and if you feel that God is leading your practice this direction, then He will guide you through to the other side safely. Don’t shy away from explaining your values and beliefs with each client, even if you think they don’t share the same beliefs. Most will respect your convictions and that alone builds trust, even if they don’t believe what you believe. Clarity wins the day.
Jacob: I think I would have planned our communication with clients better, in a way that highlighted the spiritual aspects of our move and the conviction that we had. I don’t think that came across clearly to some clients which could lead to future awkward conversations when they eventually realize that we are a solely Christian company doing Biblically Responsible Investing.
Keith: Our practice looks completely different than it did in 2018. We have refocused our target market to the Christian investor, have changed team members, have moved office locations, have changed our entire investing process and have grown our AUM to the highest it’s ever been. God is good and He is confirming that we made the right move!