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Study links mutual fund decisions with religion
The new findings do not suggest investors make decisions purely based on their religion, a professor says.
September 25th, 2012
12:39 PM ET

Study links mutual fund decisions with religion

By Laura Koran, CNN

(CNN) – Faith plays a major role in many Americans' lives, affecting their outlook on morality, politics and even according to a new study investing.

The study, conducted at the University of Georgia and Southern Methodist University, found that the predominant religion in a community affects the decision-making process of mutual fund managers in that community, specifically when it comes to risk.

Mutual funds in counties with larger Catholic communities tend to embrace risk more than those in majority-Protestant counties, the study found. Earlier studies have found that Catholics are generally more prone to take speculative risks than the average population, while Protestants are more risk-averse than the average population.

The findings, which will be published next month in the academic journal Management Science, could help provoke a re-evaluation of how investing works, its authors said.

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"One would expect that with very, very severe competition within the mutual fund industry, culture should play no role in mutual fund decisions because fund managers ... should adopt value-maximizing strategies," said Tao Shu, an assistant professor of finance at the University of Georgia and one of the study's authors.

"Surprisingly," Shu continued, "we found that despite the very intense competition within the mutual fund industry, mutual funds are still impacted by local culture."

Specifically, the study found that mutual funds located in predominantly Catholic areas are associated with increasing fund volatility, a measure of risk taking, by about 6%, compared to those in low-Catholic areas. Those in predominately Protestant counties have a 14% lower fund volatility compared with those in low-Protestant areas.

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The study looked at 1,621 growth and aggressive growth mutual funds.

Shu conducted the study with University of Georgia colleague Eric Yeung and Johan Sulaeman of Southern Methodist University.

Howard J. "Rusty" Leonard, founder and CEO of the North Carolina-based mutual fund company Stewardship Partners, said he understands how cultural influences can play a part in investment decisions. Stewardship is one of a growing number of investment firms with religious missions, investing only in companies that he said meet specified moral standards.

Leonard said the study may speak to complex geographic trends that include religion but that also go beyond it.

"We have clients for what we do in the South and (in) other places in the country but almost none in the Northeast," he said. "And there just isn't the interest in screening and reflecting religious viewpoints in the Northeast, as much as there is in the South."

Leonard said the study seemed to speak to the greater degree of overall religious conviction in the Bible Belt, home to a higher proportion of evangelical Christians than any other region of the country.

"Churches in the South, being more conservative in nature in the first place with the Baptist influence particularly just make the whole cluster more conservative, and more suspicious probably of things that are promising great solutions and great returns," Leonard said.

Shu, for his part, said his findings do not suggest that investors make decisions purely based on their religion, pointing to earlier studies linking investment decisions to other cultural factors.

He also cautioned that a variety of factors can affect mutual fund performance, and investors should not make their investment decisions based on the faiths of fund managers.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Money & Faith • Protestant

soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. hippypoet

    belief itself isn't a bad thing. i can say that honestly and believe those words. any belief that makes one want to be a better person is a grand belief to be sure! however, the belief in something unpovable full heartedly is what i find to be disconcerting. the real issue with religion is when those that believe full heartedly run a country or when the majority of the cizitens are religious. For as we all know, the majority make the rule. wether it be thru having more votes or greater numbers in your army the idea is the same, strength in numbers! But when this is the case what you get is oppession.

    any religiously ran government is an oppressive one. All religions state what people should, should not, can, and can not do and even at times religions state when one should do these things. it is in its most basic function a form of social control that warps the mind of the creature being controlled so that the end result is a person who willin
    gly acts in accordance to that very same oppressive government thereby making the government appear to be not controlling at all.

    it is a very nice trick, but aren't tricks for children?
    should we not grow up?
    are dreams really worth giving reality up?
    how is a hope greater then knowledge?
    why aren't other things taken at face value with the same "faith"?
    if anything then at least shouldn't the tenets of your faith be adhered to and be upheld?
    should you stone your own children because they were dissrespectful to you?
    should you kill those of differing cultures or beliefs because they have differing cultures and beliefs?
    would you allow those that survive YOUR jihad to be enslaved and turned into property?
    should women be viewed as property and treated as such?
    how many commandments do you follow and how many do you think there are?
    shouldn't the followers of the abrahamic faith know the answers to these questions?
    was hope greater then knowledge?
    did the dream live up to its reality?

    food for thought.

    September 27, 2012 at 11:44 am |
  2. Evolution favors the faithful

    Don't be selected for destruction. Follow Jesus and live.

    September 27, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • Veritas

      I live perfectly well without the so-called son of an imaginary being. Faith has nothing to do with evolution.

      September 27, 2012 at 1:47 am |
  3. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Never trust a study conducted by a religious organization. By definition they are biased and believe things based on faith, not facts.

    September 26, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  4. roger

    oh, God please continue to bless mutual funds and thanks...

    September 26, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  5. roger

    Now we know why mutual funds perform so well.

    September 26, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  6. Atheism is Great for Kids and Grown-Ups Too!

    It's really best for all people including children to have an agnostic approach to god, and an atheistic approach to all religion. It keeps things simple for kids, and lets them be all that they can be. They just need to be taught that some things, like all religion, were just made up by salesmen and politicians from long ago. (Yes, charlatan folklore and spam started long before the Bible; what would make you think they hadn't?) And they need to be taught that other things, like God, we really don't know a damn thing about.

    Atheists have strong minds and don't need a religion. Many religious folk have the best intentions. But too often, religious folk run and hide their misdeeds within their religion (and by doing so, they disserve society). And too often, religious folk are easily offended when someone mocks their make-believe characters – and, as we can see they can get really CRAZY!

    Although there are many religious folk with good intentions – some selflessly helping others, religions and religious organizations are, as a whole, just big old clubs – each trying to out do each other and inspiring hate and division (often disguised as love) along the way. The problem is that people too easily buy into religion and don't realize how unfounded it all is. And when they buy into it, they buy into a lot of really old, really weird tenets that are nothing but harmful for the human species.

    Take Christianity, for instance. Just look at all the things that Christians argue about amongst themselves today – abortion, men's and women's roles in the church, celibacy, contraception, acceptance of gays, etc. Most of these issues have their roots in the conflicted, unfounded tenets of early Christianity. Non-Mormons harp on Joseph Smith these days. But we really don't have any more proof at all to believe that Paul, the self-proclaimed "apostle" was anything more than an ordinary man who needed to make up religious "sales literature" to survive and spread his own personal beliefs. And yet a good chunk of the NT is attributed to Paul and accepted by many Christians. And a lot of what he wrote about has to do with many of the issues I mentioned above that have Christians fighting amongst themselves hundreds of years later. It's way too unfounded to argue over.

    Get a good cup of tea, and sit down and collect your thoughts. If you find it helpful to pray to a god, fine. But it is really healthier for the mind to leave behind all the characters that people over the centuries have invented or given powers to, for which there is little or no foundation. Because with those invented characters and powers – that's where division and hate join the little party in your mind. That's where, in your mind, you are inheriting the division and hate from ordinary politicians, lobbyists and salesmen from long ago. My goodness.

    mama kindless.

    September 26, 2012 at 8:37 am |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Proven

    September 26, 2012 at 5:37 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. The degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements is 0.0. To help you understand the degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements, I will access my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE). Using my IEE module, the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book might help you overcome this problem:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      September 26, 2012 at 8:19 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!~.

      September 26, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  8. Medicated

    What the f<uck is up w that avdberg person?

    September 25, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
  9. Atheism is Great for Kids and Grown-Ups Too!

    It's really best for all people including children to have an agnostic approach to god, and an atheistic approach to all religion. It keeps things simple for kids, and lets them be all that they can be. They just need to be taught that some things, like all religion, were just made up by salesmen and politicians from long ago. (Yes, charlatan folklore and spam started long before the Bible; what would make you think they hadn't?) And they need to be taught that other things, like God, we really don't know a damn thing about.

    Atheists have strong minds and don't need a religion. Many religious folk have the best intentions. But too often, religious folk run and hide their misdeeds within their religion (and by doing so, they disserve society). And too often, religious folk are easily offended when someone mocks their make-believe characters – and, as we can see they can get really CRAZY!

    Although there are many religious folk with good intentions – some selflessly helping others, religions and religious organizations are, as a whole, just big old clubs – each trying to out do each other and inspiring hate and division (often disguised as love) along the way. The problem is that people too easily buy into religion and don't realize how unfounded it all is. And when they buy into it, they buy into a lot of really old, really weird tenets that are nothing but harmful for the human species.

    Take Christianity, for instance. Just look at all the things that Christians argue about amongst themselves today – abortion, men's and women's roles in the church, celibacy, contraception, acceptance of gays, etc. Most of these issues have their roots in the conflicted, unfounded tenets of early Christianity. Non-Mormons harp on Joseph Smith these days. But we really don't have any more proof at all to believe that Paul, the self-proclaimed "apostle" was anything more than an ordinary man who needed to make up religious "sales literature" to survive and spread his own personal beliefs. And yet a good chunk of the NT is attributed to Paul and accepted by many Christians. And a lot of what he wrote about has to do with many of the issues I mentioned above that have Christians fighting amongst themselves hundreds of years later. It's way too unfounded to argue over.

    Get a good cup of tea, and sit down and collect your thoughts. If you find it helpful to pray to a god, fine. But it is really healthier for the mind to leave behind all the characters that people over the centuries have invented or given powers to, for which there is little or no foundation. Because with those invented characters and powers – that's where division and hate join the little party in your mind. That's where, in your mind, you are inheriting the division and hate from ordinary politicians, lobbyists and salesmen from long ago. My goodness.

    OBAMA 2012!
    CLINTON – 2016 & 2020!

    mama kindless

    September 25, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    September 25, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs! *.

      September 25, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Veritas

      So pray for some imagination

      September 25, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. The degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements is 0.0. To help you understand the degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements, I will access my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE). Using my IEE module, the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book might help you overcome this problem:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      September 26, 2012 at 8:18 am |
  11. AvdBerg

    I feel so guilty about posting all this crap, and I'm really an atheist, but my bosses make me do it.

    September 25, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  12. Rynomite

    Somone needs to whip out the banstick on Advberg's IP.

    When someone spams the same exact 4500 word essay 20+ times on a page, they are not contributing to any sort of discussion and need to be eliminated.

    September 25, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  13. albie

    Yet another example of how religion makes this world a worse place - is there anything religion doesn't affect in a negative way?

    September 25, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  14. NanH

    I thought this was CNN not the religious channel

    September 25, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  15. Reality

    Then there is the money (and "souls") to be saved without religion:

    Saving 1.5 billion lost Muslims:
    There never were and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam and therefore no more koranic-driven acts of horror and terror LIKE 9/11.

    Money saved:

    – One trillion dollars over the next several years as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will end.

    – Eighteen billion dollars/yr to Pakistan will stop.

    – Four billion dollars/yr to Egypt will end.

    Saving 2 billion lost Christians including the Mormons:

    There were never any bodily resurrections and there will never be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity!!!

    Money saved and taxes paid:

    – The Mormon ti-the empire will now become taxable as will all Christian "religions" and evangelical non-profits since there is no longer any claim to being a tax-exempt religion.

    – the faith-based federal projects supported by both Bush and Obama will be eliminated saving $385 million/yr and another $2 billion/yr in grants.

    – Saving 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:

    Abraham and Moses never existed.

    Money saved and taxes paid:

    – Four billion dollars/yr to Israel saved.

    – All Jewish sects and non-profits will no longer be tax exempt.

    Now all we need to do is convince these 3.5+ billion global and local citizens that they have been conned all these centuries Time for a YouTube,Twitter and FaceBook campaign!!!!

    September 25, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  16. Richard

    What are you trying to say ?

    September 25, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  17. Nietodarwin

    Mutual funds who knows???. I know that I will NEVER eat at Chick fil A again, or buy Tyson chicken again, or stay at a Marriott again. I used all those products/services until a few months ago when the CEO's and such started talking about their "faith based" companies. I want these TALIBANGELICALS out of government, and they sure aren't getting any more money from me towards their sickening "faith based" enterprises.

    September 25, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • TALIBANGELICAL

      RAWR.

      Let me feed you some chicken....

      September 25, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      @ Nietodarwin
      Well said. One very sad aspect is the average Talibangelicals don’t realize they are on the wrong side of history. They are the “modern” equivalent of the southern racist defending Jim Crow laws and chauvinistic men that opposed the right of women to vote. Even worse are the ones that do know and don’t care.

      September 26, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  18. Towelie

    I am so fub/bcking high.

    September 25, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  19. PeaceBeWithYou

    • What is the First Noble Truth?

    The first truth is that life is suffering i.e., life includes pain, getting old, disease, and ultimately death. We also endure psychological suffering like loneliness frustration, fear, embarrassment, disappointment and anger. This is an irrefutable fact that cannot be denied. It is realistic rather than pessimistic because pessimism is expecting things to be bad. lnstead, Budhism explains how suffering can be avoided and how we can be truly happy.

    • What is the Second Noble Truth?

    The second truth is that suffering is caused by craving and aversion. We will suffer if we expect other people to conform to our expectation, if we want others to like us, if we do not get something we want,etc. In other words, getting what you want does not guarantee happiness. Rather than constantly struggling to get what you want, try to modify your wanting. Wanting deprives us of contentment and happiness. A lifetime of wanting and craving and especially the craving to continue to exist, creates a powerful energy which causes the individual to be born. So craving leads to physical suffering because it

    September 25, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Smoke much crack?

      September 25, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Richard

      What ?

      September 25, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • WachetAuf

      To William:

      The Neanderthals died out because they never evolved. They were too isolated from the rest of the world which was evolving at a more rapid pace. Some scientists do believe, however, that they have identified genes in modern man which could have been inherited from the Neanderthals. You may want to offer yourself for testing for those genes. It might explain why some people are more primitive than others.

      September 25, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  20. PeaceBeWithYou

    • Do Buddhists Worship Idols?

    Buddhists sometimes pay respect to images of the Buddha, not in worship, nor to ask for favors. A statue of the Buddha with hands rested gently in its lap and a compassionate smile reminds us to strive to develop peace and love within ourselves. Bowing to the statue is an expression of gratitude for the teaching.

    • Why are so Many Buddhist Countries Poor?

    One of the Buddhist teachings is that wealth does not guarantee happiness and also wealth is impermanent. The people of every country suffer whether rich or poor, but those who understand Buddhist teachings can find true happiness.

    • Are There Different Types of Budhism?

    There are many different types of Budhism, because the emphasis changes from country to country due to customs and culture. What does not vary is the essence of the teaching — the Dh</b am</b ma or truth.

    • Are Other Religions Wrong?

    Budhism is also a belief system which is tolerant of all other beliefs or religions. Budhism agrees with the moral teachings of other religions but Budhism goes further by providing a long term purpose within our existence, through wisdom and true understanding. Real Budhism is very tolerant and not concerned with labels like 'Chris tian', 'Mosl</b um', 'Hin</b du' or 'Bud</b dh ist'; that is why there have never been any wars fought in the name of Budhism. That is why Bu</b ddhi sts do not preach and try to convert, only explain if an explanation is sought.

    • Is Budhism Scientific?

    Science is knowledge which can be made into a system, which depends upon seeing and testing facts and stating general natural laws. The core of Budhism fit into this definition, because the Four Noble truths can be tested and proven by anyone in fact the Buddha himself asked his followers to test the teaching rather than accept his word as true. Budhism depends more on understanding than faith.

    • What did the Buddha Teach?

    The Buddha taught many things, but the basic concepts in Budhism can be summed up by the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.

    September 25, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • End Religion

      The only Noble Truth is that all religion is a fraud. Your brand of delusion is no less crazy than anyone else's.

      September 25, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.