Greg Dukes is a financial advisor at Aquinas Wealth Advisors. Over the course of his career, Dukes has specialized in providing financial products and solutions in addition to serving as a financial representative and manager of a registered investment adviser.
Russ Alan Prince: Tell us a bit about your journey with Aquinas Wealth Advisors and the client demand that led to its founding.
Greg Dukes: What we’ve seen over the course of these last 24 to 36 months—especially since COVID began—has been a desire from clients of all means, walks of faith, and ways of life to know a lot more about where the money they’re investing with companies is ultimately going.
The question we kept hearing ultimately led to Aquinas being founded was: “How do we measure how in line are someone’s finances with guidelines or main tenants of the Catholic faith?” And, that’s how Aquinas came to be and what led to the development of Faith and Finance technology. We have seen Catholic dioceses, institutions, charities, universities, and people of faith, in general, all want to understand and identify how their faith and finances are in line with one another.
Prince: How does the ability of Aquinas’ Faith and Finance technology in particular impact the ability of high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth investors to see what they might be supporting through their investments?
Dukes: This technology is where we’ve seen the most impact with our services. High-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth investors have their money in a lot of places. Whether it’s different private equity funds, multiple advisors, old or diversified 401Ks, and IRAs, it’s all a lot to track. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that all these investments are aligned with their faith. This often leaves people grappling with the internal dialogue of whether they’re okay with aligning their faith and finances given that historically, conventional wisdom holds that faith-based investment programs won’t yield the same degree of returns.
What the Faith and Finance score technology has done so accurately is to be able to detail both performance numbers and whether your investments reflect the tenants of your faith. Now investors can see where your performance is lacking and can either go to their current advisors and say, “How do we fix this?” or they can come to Aquinas and have a custom-built portfolio assembled for them.
Prince: Do you see the trend for faith-based or values-based investing continuing to grow? What is the impetus for that growth in the investment community right now?
Dukes: I don’t think that this is just a trend; I think that this reflects a true desire among investors to align their faith and finances in the long term and disengage from divisive policies or divisive discourse. Based on the discussions we’re having with clients and people who’ve approached us, many have been looking for a tool like this for a while but can only take action now thanks to the Faith and Finance score technology. So, what’s going to lead to growth in the community right now is word of mouth, positive experiences between Aquinas and clients, and increasing knowledge that the possibility of aligning your faith and finances is much more reachable than it was in the past.
Prince: Do you feel there is generally a lack of transparency with investors and the companies in their portfolios?
Dukes: I don’t think it’s so much a lack of transparency as it is that somewhere along the way companies decided to bring politics into the boardroom. There are several companies out there that have shifted significantly in their dealings and values as well as how they interact with the public. All that information is out there, and the Faith and Finance technology allows us to compile data pertaining to where their would-be investments are sending their money as well as how they’re funding different agendas. Beyond questions of transparency, investors now have the ability to use Aquinas’ tools to see how their holdings are conducting business and decide whether or not their values are compatible.
RUSS ALAN PRINCE is the Executive Director of Private Wealth magazine (pw-mag.com) and Chief Content Officer for High-Net-Worth Genius (hnwgenius.com). He consults with family offices, the wealthy, fast-tracking entrepreneurs, and select professionals.