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Halal investing gives Muslims opportunity to make money in line with religious values – OrilliaMatters

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TORONTO — Ahmed Najar only started investing two years ago after discovering a way to do so that aligns with his Muslim values.

The 36-year-old lab researcher turned to Halal investing that screens out forbidden investments such as pork, alcohol, tobacco, weapons, adult entertainment and the biggest no-no of all: debt, bonds or interest.

Najar says the main driver for his investment decisions is religious.

“I cannot do the other way, it’s just impossible. Even if there is money to be made I cannot make it that way,” he said from Vancouver.

The money he invests must do no harm and be beneficial for society. Usaries are forbidden because the Qur’an says Muslims aren’t allowed to profit from lending money, so earning interest from an individual or bank is prohibited.

Socially responsible investing, including those based on religious beliefs, is a growing trend in Canada with assets under management surging to $3.2 trillion last year, up from $2.1 trillion in 2017, according to the Canadian Responsible Investment Trends Report.

Responsible investing represents nearly 62 per cent of Canada’s investment industry, up from 50.6 per cent two years ago.

Investing based on religious values remains a small but growing subsection of this trend.

Like all investing, those who make decisions based on their faith should educate themselves and find a trusted financial adviser, said Najar.

That’s especially crucial for Halal investing because most financial advisers are not familiar with the detailed web of options and restrictions, said Jesse Reitberger, co-founder of Canadian Islamic Wealth, who guides Najar’s moves.

Reitberger has focused on helping the Muslim community to adhere to financial tenets of the Qur’an since converting to Islam in 2014.

He said many Muslims have sat on the sidelines or invested and just plead ignorance.

“They just keep their money either sitting in a chequing account or under their mattress at home,” he said from Winnipeg.

For many Muslims, especially older generations, that’s meant saving cash to make purchases of real estate, cars or gold.

Canada’s Muslim population exceeds one million and is expected to become the second-largest religion by 2030.

Finding investments that are Islamic compliant can be a challenge because Canada is an interest-based economy, said Reitberger.

The Dow Jones Islamic Index and S&P/TSX 60 Shariah contain several funds that hold permissible investments.

Other faiths have taken similar steps to investing, albeit without any prohibition on debt.

The Mennonite Savings and Credit Union was formed 56 years ago to allow members to “see mutual aid put into faithful practice.” 

It created a family of socially responsible funds to help investors bridge the gap between their principles and the way they invest their money. 

Renamed Kindred Credit Union in 2016 to broaden its reach, about 70 per cent of its 25,000 members have a faith-based affiliation.

“People have taken a really big interest in this simply because it allows them to align all aspects of their lives to reflect their beliefs including their finances,” said Tim Fox, director of wealth and investments.

Screens are put in place to exclude investments in alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, gambling, military and weapons, along with those that have negative impacts on human rights, employees and animal welfare.

“Those screens continue to evolve as a social awareness evolves. As a community, as a society we decide what is important and what we’re willing to invest in and not invest in.”

Kitchener, Ont.-based Meritas Financial was created early on because there were very few options available, added Kindred CEO Ian Thomas.

“Over the last two decades, with acceleration over the last 10 years, all of a sudden values or socially responsible investing or responsible investing has really come to the forefront and the outcome has become more mainstream.”

Other financial institutions that provide faith-inspired options include Khalsa Credit Union. It helps British Columbia’s Sikh community while Edmonton’s Christian Credit Union applies “Christian values to financial services.”

Companies such as Wealthsimple and Manzil have sprung up in recent years to fill in gaps for the Muslim community.

Online investment firm Wealthsimple said it is preparing to launch its Shariah-compliant ETF as early as next month to replace its current offering of 50 stocks.

It will contain more than 150 stocks and increased diversification.

“One of the problems that Shariah investors have is you end up screening out entire industries from how they can invest,” chief investment officer Ben Reeves said in an interview.

He said Shariah-compliant funds can generate similar returns to regular investment vehicles, noting that Its current offering launched in 2017 has returned about six per cent annually.

Mohamad Sawwaf, co-founder and CEO of Toronto-based Islamic finance company Manzil, created its own diversified portfolio offering — Manzil Halal Portfolios — in partnership with CI Direct Investing, the roboadviser arm of CI Financial Inc.

The portfolio includes alternatives to fixed income like Islamic mortgages that are based on real and hard assets, while Wahed Invest’s ETF invests in Shariah compliant stocks.

“This is a very underserved community and this is about financial inclusion because they’re currently excluded within the Canadian marketplace,” he said.

Sawwaf said market research has indicated that more than 70 per cent of Muslim Canadians would adopt Halal investing if products are available. 

That’s particularly true of younger Muslims who are more interested in investing than older generations.

Restrictions on fixed income end up helping investors to do well, added Sameer Azam, investment adviser at RBC Wealth Management.

“A lot of the criteria pushes you to companies with lower leverage so at the end of the day we see a lot of quality in our clients portfolio,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021.

Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press

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BlackRock Pulls Ad Featuring Trump Rally Shooter Thomas Matthew Crooks

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A screengrab of Thomas Crooks from the BlackRock ad that aired in 2022.

Thomas Matthew Crooks, the 20-year-old who shot at former president Donald Trump at a rally in Pennsylvania, had briefly appeared in a 2022 advertisement for BlackRock Inc, the world’s largest money manager.

The ad, filmed at the Bethel Park High School in Pennsylvania, featured Crooks and several other unpaid students in the background, said the investment giant in a statement. Crooks graduated from the school in 2022.

BlackRock said it has pulled the ad but the video will be available to authorities. The ad, however, is being widely shared by social media users.

“The assassination attempt on former President Trump is abhorrent. We’re thankful former President Trump wasn’t seriously injured, and thinking about all the innocent bystanders and victims of this awful act, especially the person who was killed,” the company added in its statement.

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BlackRock, whose earnings figures are expected today, has faced scrutiny after shooting incidents since some of its index funds own shares in gunmakers.

Trump Assassination Attempt

Trump survived an assassination attempt on Saturday after a gunman opened fire at him at a rally in Pennsylvania ahead of the Presidential elections. The attack left him with a bloodied face as the former president said the bullet pierced his “upper part of right ear”.

Latest and Breaking News on NDTV

A bystander died in the attack while shielding his family and Crooks – a registered Republican – was shot dead by a Secret Service sniper.

Trump, whose Republican candidature will be finalised today, shared a message of unity after the attack and said Americans must not allow “evil to win”. “It was God alone who prevented the unthinkable from happening,” he said on social media.

Biden, too, appealed to the nation to “lower the political temperature” in a rare Oval Office address. “Politics must never be a literal battlefield, God forbid a killing field,” he said.

The US markets are expecting Trump trades to gain momentum after the attack. It has already been pinning hopes for the return of Republicans, especially after Biden’s poor performance in last month’s debate. Those trades are likely to take deeper hold as the attack sparks a wave of sympathy and support for Trump.

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Keeping emergency savings in your investment account instead at the bank

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The latest generation of high-rate savings accounts are an excellent place to park money you need to keep safe and available on short notice.

But if you want a better interest rate, consider keeping your savings in an investment account. The investment industry has created what amounts to a savings account packaged for investors. These products are called investment savings accounts and they’re typically eligible for coverage through Canada Deposit Insurance Corp.

Rates on ISAs range from 4.25 per cent to 4.5 per cent – expect these returns to track any adjustments down or up in the Bank of Canada’s overnight rate. Savings accounts from alternative banks and other financial institutions are as high as 4.1 per cent right now, but most are in the 2- to 4-per-cent zone.

ISAs are offered through big and small banks and traded like mutual funds, which means you need a fund code to place an order. A helpful listing of ISAs and their codes has been compiled by the Mr. Thrifty blog. Series A units are for everyday use, while slightly higher-returning Series F is generally for investors who have fee-based advisory accounts. It may be possible for DIY investors to buy a Series F investment savings account – give it a try.

The day-to-day utility of savings accounts at alternative banks have been improved in recent years and many now offer no-cost bill payments and e-transfers. ISAs aren’t quite as flexible. If you need access to money held in one of these accounts, you’ll need to go into your brokerage account or trading app and enter a sell order. Expect cash in your account the business day following the trade. In the investment industry, they call this T+1 settlement.

Once the cash has appeared in your investing account, you’ll need to get it into your chequing account so you can direct it where needed. These transfers are easiest if you have a broker or trading app in the same corporate family as your chequing account.

ISAs are designed as a productive place to temporarily park cash in an investment account. But at today’s interest rates, they have broader appeal. Some investors have used them as a complement or replacement for bonds, which have been volatile in recent years. As a savings product, ISAs do not fluctuate in price.

One of the big benefits of ISAs is that they can be bought and sold in most cases without commissions. Similar products in the exchange-traded fund world offer slightly higher yields, but some brokers charge commissions of $5 to $10 to buy and sell ETFs.

ISAs can make sense in non-registered and tax-free savings accounts. Using an ISA in a TFSA shields you from tax on your interest income, but mind your withdrawals. Taking money out of a TFSA and then re-contributing it in the same year puts you at risk of over-contribution penalties.

 

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Hedge fund boss says the best investment advice he ever got was a ‘terrific’ message from late Charlie Munger

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Hedge fund boss says the best investment advice he ever got was a ‘terrific’ message from late Charlie Munger

The way investors would hang on to the late Charlie Munger’s every wisecrack (you can read 500-plus pages worth in “Poor Charlie’s Almanack”), you’d think he’d formed a comedy team with fellow billionaire and business partner Warren Buffett.

But funny as he was, Munger was equally sharp and insightful. And Josh Friedman — the co-CEO, co-founder and co-chair of Canyon Partners, an L.A.-based hedge fund — isn’t bashful about praising Munger’s investment advice.

“Charlie Munger used to say that things fall into three categories: yes, no, and too complicated to figure out,” Friedman said in a July interview with Bloomberg. “There’s a basic message in there that I think is a terrific one.”

Friedman notes that he doesn’t follow the Munger way chapter and verse; Canyon Partners prides itself on complex investment opportunities. But he does embrace Munger’s three-pronged strategy, which he describes this way: “You have to be patient, and you have to be aggressive when the opportunities are abundant, and you have to be quite disciplined at a time when they’re not.”

From Munger to Friedman, a value orientation

It’s no hyperbole to say that in the 55-second clip, Friedman by way of Munger lays out a solid blueprint for market success. While many investors betray irrationality and impulsivity — they sell low in a panic, try to time the market or invest in overhyped IPOs — Munger and Buffett made their fortunes through studious, deliberate decision-making.

The approach is known as value investing and based on principles Munger followed, and Buffett learned, at the feet of markets guru Benjamin Graham. It has many nuances but the underlying principle is that if a share price is below its book value, it’s undervalued — and thus a good buy. If the price sits above its book value, it’s overvalued. Buffett famously said of Graham’s 1949 tome “The Intelligent Investor,” “Picking up that book was one of the luckiest moments in my life.”

It’s no surprise, then, to see this statement on Canyon’s landing page: “For 30-plus years, Canyon Partners has employed a deep value, credit intensive approach.”

Read more: Car insurance rates have spiked in the US to a stunning $2,150/year — but you can be smarter than that. Here’s how you can save yourself as much as $820 annually in minutes (it’s 100% free)

Beyond Berkshire, a resplendent Canyon

Since its founding in 1990, Canyon Investors has grown to oversee more than $24 billion in assets under management.

Once you know to look for it, you can see Munger’s philosophy reflected in many of Friedman’s other media appearances. In another Bloomberg video, he talks about the dangers of a herd mentality that prioritizes greed stampedes over evaluating individual investments based on their merits.

“I think most of the big mistakes people make are because they see others doing it and they feel like, ‘Oh my God, how did I miss that? I’d better get into that,’” he said. “You’ve got to think independently, you’ve got to be a contrarian, and you can’t be motivated by fear of missing out or by envy.”

In the Munger video, he acknowledges that during the past decade, tasty opportunities were everywhere in equities, venture capital and especially credit markets. (Canyon works within corporate and structured credit.)

With interest rates “ridiculously low” in the 2010s, “It was easy to put money in things that were silly, in retrospect,” said Friedman. “Having the kind of patience and discipline that Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett have had is a great lesson for everyone in the investment world.”

This touches on another cornerstone the billionaires leveraged to build Berkshire Hathaway: buy and hold. As the name implies (and today’s avarice defies), the longer one keeps a stock, the better its prospects. And that could last for decades or more. Or even more. In another letter to Berkshire shareholders (this one in 1988), Buffett declared, “Our favorite holding period is forever.”

Given that Munger died at 99 and the Oracle of Omaha turns 94 in August, that’s not too far-fetched a time frame.

 

This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.

 

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