Vaccine mandates were the driving force in the decision by two Columbus, Ohio, financial advisers to switch firms last month.
Drew Lehman and Matt Bonito, who combined manage $250 million in client assets, moved from Financial Engines Advisors to Inspire Advisors to better serve clients “without any push from corporate bureaucracy that they might be uneasy with,” said Robert Netzly, CEO at Inspire.
“As the mandates roll out, it has caused a lot of concern and risk for advisers at these firms,” Netzly said. “Medical freedom is important to these people; they have aversions to vaccines.”
Founded in 2015, Inspire is a $2 billion registered investment adviser marketed as offering Biblically responsible investing from Christian advisers.
“We do not require vaccines and we never will,” he said.
According to the announcement, Bonito and Lehman joined Inspire at the end of 2021 and represented the RIA’s third acquisition last year.
Netzly said the firm’s assets under management nearly doubled in 2021, mostly due to new clients.
“More and more Christians are feeling unwelcome in the woke culture of secular investing firms and are leaving to spend their professional energy contributing to a firm that supports their biblical values rather than attacks biblical values,” he said. “We are honored to protect the inalienable rights of religion and conscience for our Christian financial advisers as we work together to inspire transformation for God’s glory throughout the world with biblically responsible ESG investing and planning advice.”
Bonito, whose career in wealth management dates to 2004, according to public filings, was with Financial Engines for three years.
“My conscience was telling me that I needed to find a firm that upheld morals, values, and principles that come from the Bible,” Bonito said in a prepared statement.
“However, the straw that broke the camel’s back for me was the possible vaccine mandate,” he added. “I have already had Covid and have a T-Cell immunity report, but these were looking like they would not have been considered by my previous firm.”
Lehman, whose career in wealth management dates to 2010, also spent three years at Financial Engines.
“I’m very excited about the fact that I’m on a team that is committed to advancing the Kingdom in addition to putting our clients’ interests and values first,” Lehman said in the statement.
Financial Engines did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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Andrew is half-human, half-gamer. He’s also a science fiction author writing for BleeBot.