Borja Barragan, the adventure of investing with faith-based criteria

*Article by Paloma Cervilla published in ABC on 05/27/2022

He left his career out of Christian commitment and launched a consulting project to invest only in companies that comply with the social doctrine of the Church.

How do I want to use the talents that God has given me and put them at the service of entities that have accompanied me throughout my life? How do I want my work to be? How should success be measured, by one’s job position or by how fruitful one’s life can be? These and other questions about his professional future, about the meaning of his life, about his vocation in the world of finance, Borja Barragan, an active Catholic, asked himself once in 2014 at the Emmaus House in Pozuelo (Madridd) while together with his wife Carolina he was taking a master’s degree in Family Pastoral Care, taught by the John Paul II Institute.

He was then in his thirties and had four children (today there are seven), a successful life in the world of investments in international entities, which he had reached after studying at Icade. In that retreat house «the spark» of «something I wanted to do» arose, something related to «what is really important in life and what vocation I am called to carry out, which was to accompany religious institutions, to use the talents that God may have given me, what I am good at, such as finance, in the service of the Church».

That spark led him to begin a process of discernment so that it would not be just «a flash in the pan, nor an impulsive decision, but something reasoned and well planned». After seven months of reflection, in June 2015 he left the bank where he worked because «there comes a time in life when you have to take the plunge and throw yourself into the void» and decided to start training on ethical and sustainable investment funds at Harvard University. The goal he pursues: financial advice for investments in companies that comply with the social teaching of the Church.

His first project was launched under the umbrella of a Swiss bank and «Temperantia» (temperance in Latin), the first Catholic equity fund in Spain, was born. But the first ethical dilemmas arose and he decided to start his adventure alone. And in solitude he settles in the garage of his house after leaving the bank in July 2017. Altum Faithful Investing began to take shape and on February 9, 2018, coincidentally marked in the saints’ calendar as Saint Alto of Bavaria, received the approval of the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV), which finalized the file that accredits it as a financial advisory firm, initiated in September 2017.

Blessed by the regulatory body, Borja embarked on the adventure and his first step was to conduct an analysis of 3,500 companies around the world to see if they complied with four pillars of the Church’s social doctrine: promotion of life, family, human dignity and care and protection of creation. He found 2,500, 27% of those analyzed. With this database, he began to advise religious institutions, bishops’ conferences, foundations and laypeople, to whom he offers professional advice. From that garage at home, he has grown to a team of eight people and has launched new services: Altum App, a free application for retail investors; Altum explorer, an online platform for professional investors; and, in addition, they teach Christian investors. He is now «happier at work, because if God is the center of my life, may he be the center of everything».

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