We believe financial freedom, clarity, and confidence are possible for those who seek it. Zenith Wealth Partners has no minimum requirements in order to help our clients start making progress on the journey to wealth. Providing discretionary investment management services along with ongoing wealth planning to people of color and young professionals is our way of addressing wealth inequalities that exist in our world. In our pursuit to make our society more equitable, we have identified other non-profits, foundations, and endowments that have a similar charge to provide a future benefit for people and communities of color.

Zenith can provide value to organizations by helping to define their long-term objectives, create an investment policy, construct an investment portfolio that is aligned with the organization’s mission, and continuously improve the investment mix for the future benefit of their programs, people, and purpose.

Clear definition of long-term goals and objectives is critically important for an organization to make informed decisions in the present. This is consistent with our feedback and experiences in planning for the future with individuals and families. We have found that posing the following questions is important to help organizational leaders identify their investment objectives.

These questions help to define what’s important to the organization and how it views the future. Depending on these answers, objectives can vary significantly from one organization to another. As an example, one of our organizational clients is a foundation that focuses on providing grants to Black artists and art galleries. It’s imperative that the organization can grant in perpetuity. In contrast, another one of our clients provides programming and coaching to youth of color. The staff is critically important to the future success of programming and ultimately the program participants. The investment policy and investment portfolio look materially different for both organizations because their objectives are different.

The investment policy and portfolio are created from the organizational objectives. The policy defines time horizon, liquidity provisions, tax considerations, risk tolerance, and specific mission alignment for each organization. The policy also identifies how the portfolio will be monitored, reported on, or changed. While most of the policy components listed above are determined quantitatively, the mission alignment item is the most qualitative and difficult to pinpoint. Returning to the art foundation example above, the time horizon is easily identifiable from the objectives (perpetuity), along with the liquidity provisions (ample liquidity to make cash grants); however, the mission alignment is not. The underlying investments for this organization should seek to benefit art or art galleries that are created or run by Black people. This is admittedly the most difficult part of aligning an investment policy and portfolio with an organization’s mission.

We do not think it is simply adequate to invest for the future benefit of an organization; we must search for ways to align the organization’s assets with their mission. In this example, investing in a housing development that is focused on providing affordable housing for young artists of color could be an excellent (hypothetical) way to achieve mission alignment rather than simply buying a portfolio of publicly traded equities with an expected return that exceeds the annual grant-making percentage.

Striving to achieve mission alignment is what makes our process unique for organizations and we are deeply committed to learning, reviewing, and implementing investment ideas that show mission alignment with our clients. For example, I sit on the investment committee for a Philadelphia local impact investment initiative that uncovers a range of impact investment opportunities that could be appropriate for our mission-driven clients. Further, our team provides service through board work and volunteering for several organizations that are in touch with community development efforts and local businesses. We continuously review our policy-setting and portfolio creation processes to ensure that we’re showing the right investments to our clients while also sourcing and learning about future opportunities. As we engage with more organizations, I anticipate our learning will continue to accelerate for both our clients and our benefit.

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Jason Ray

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