Despite the popular image of the stock exchange as a place for wealthy investors, the reality is that many faith institutions are major investors. The largest church denominations in the UK hold investments worth billions of pounds.
Church investments can be quite confusing, as practices vary considerably from one denomination to another. In some, such as the Methodist Church, investments are held mostly at a national level. In others, such as the Roman Catholic Church, most investments are held at local or regional levels. Take a look at our section on influencing your church’s investments to read about how different denominations make investment decisions.
There are a range of ethical views on the stock market. Some people reject all stock market investment as a form of gambling. Others draw a distinction between speculation (short-term investment for profit) and long-term investment that can contribute to an enterprise in which they believe. Some argue that we should seek to change the stock market by engaging with it, rather than trying to ignore it.
There is a common misconception that charity trustees are legally obliged to invest the charity’s money in the most profitable way regardless of ethical concerns. This is not the case. Trustees may invest money in a way that is in accordance with the charity’s aims.
For more detailed discussion and links, have a look at our section on investment in the stock market).