This article was originally published March 31, 2020.
Each of our daily lives have changed drastically since the middle of February. There is an immediate health risk to many of our neighbors, businesses have been ordered to stop operating, and the financial market has seen some of its most volatile days in its history. “Normal” is not a word that any of us would use to describe our current season.
Understandably, times like these prompt us to reexamine the relevance and importance of the principles that guided us before this pandemic.
Some of these principles seem irrelevant, incomplete, misguided or even untrue when conditions change. With this in mind, what should we make of the guiding principle of Eventide’s mission:
Investing that makes the world rejoice®?
Is it still relevant? Complete? Properly centered? True?
Or, is it completely out of touch and simply a vain statement that sounds nice when times are good?
At Eventide, our mission and investment philosophy are rooted in the foundational principle that investing is ownership. That is, when you invest in a company, you become a part owner of that company. The inevitable question that then arises from this truth is “What kind of companies do I want to own?”
Let’s rewind to February 19th. Imagine someone sitting down with you on that day and saying the following:
- “This new coronavirus is a big deal; it’s going to drastically change our lives and the entire economic ecosystem for an unforeseeable period of time.”
- “The government is going to recommend and, in some cases, order people to stay home.”
- “People will be prohibited from gathering together in groups of 10 or more. Restaurants and gyms will be closed. Churches will live stream their Sunday services online.”
- “All non-essential businesses will be ordered to allow their employees to work from home.”
It would have been hard to fathom. But this is the world in which we currently live.
Given that we live in this world, how would you answer the question “What kind of companies do I want to own today?”
You might look at the immediate human needs that have resulted from the rapid spread of the virus:
- meal preparation/delivery;
- video conferencing;
- vaccines; and
- cleaning supplies.
And you might then consider companies that provide these products or services. Are they financially and operationally stable enough to perform successfully? How do they treat their stakeholders?
It makes sense that you would want to own these kinds of companies. Companies that are positioned to meet societal needs. Companies whose success is tied to their ability to help society flourish.
Now, lastly, think of this concept of investing in companies linked with human flourishing outside of the context of our immediate circumstance. Which companies are well positioned to meet the needs of our society over the next 5, 10, 20 years?
This is investing that makes the world rejoice®.
As this devastating pandemic radically impacts every part of our lives, we are reminded of the important role that every microcosm of society has in sustaining our wellbeing—churches, neighbors, families, communities, healthcare providers, large and small organizations, governments, and, yes, businesses. Each contributes in a unique way to promote and sustain human flourishing. Investing is no different. It is our belief that investing, too, is a powerful tool that should be used to this end.
So, does investing that makes the world rejoice® still matter? Yes, more than ever.