Note: The following is Chad Horning's President's letter from the Praxis Mutual Funds 2019 Semiannual Report
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Praxis Mutual Funds®. Over a quarter century, our fund managers have navigated many different market environments, ranging from an internet-fueled rally in the late 1990s to the tech bubble crash in the early aughts to the Great Recession and the persistent recovery of the last decade. The funds and strategies have changed through these alternating periods of calm and chaos, but our commitment to work on behalf of shareholders to deliver investment returns and to make a positive impact on the world has not.
Praxis has made an impact on the world because shareholders placed their confidence in our team. We recognize that our shareholders are attracted to Praxis because they want their values to be reflected in their investments, but they also need investment products that help them prepare for the future. Whether building a nest egg for retirement, saving for college tuition, or planning for unanticipated expenses, our shareholders have counted on Praxis to offer funds that deliver results and have partnered with us in promoting positive change.
Through consistent — and insistent — advocacy, Praxis has pushed companies to consider the impact of their decisions on stakeholders far and near. Among other successes over the years, we have helped bring real change to the use of child labor, promoted human rights standards, hastened the removal of toxic chemicals from health and beauty products and encouraged utility companies to accelerate their conversion to renewable energy production.
In the early years, we did this against a backdrop of widely held skepticism about the wisdom of incorporating faith values into investing. The financial market establishment argued that viewing investment decisions through a non-financial lens would result in diminished returns. We knew better. Our shareholders voted with their dollars to invest for a better world, even as they invested for their own futures. As markets evolved, more investors discovered that a consideration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors may lead to better investment results — and today, the ESG integration movement is sweeping the investment industry.
As the rest of the mutual fund industry catches up and begins to consider these factors in their investment strategies, Praxis is leading in new ways to make an impact on the world. The Praxis Impact Bond fund demonstrates that an even more effective way to make a positive impact on the world is to actively direct money to those positive activities. Our purchase of market rate positive impact bonds funds a range of activities that support communities and the climate. We believe that investing in what we want to see, while also screening out certain companies and industries, is the best way to show our faith and to express optimism about the future.
Thank you for joining Praxis in this endeavor. We are grateful you have chosen to join us in making the world a better place through your investment decisions.
Chad M. Horning, CFA®
Praxis Mutual Funds President