Click below to listen to Episode 19 – The Timothy Plan with Guest Art Ally

Episode 19 – The Timothy Plan with Guest Art Ally

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Learn more about The Timothy Plan mutual fund company with founder Art Ally.

This week, Bob and Mary Jo interview a special guest and long time friend and Christian brother, Art Ally. Art is The Founder, President & CEO of The Timothy Plan Mutual Funds, a fund family categorized as a Biblically Responsible Investment (BRI).

The Timothy Plan is the first mutual fund company that established and utilizes Biblically based screens as the first criteria in the selection of its investment portfolios of companies. The fund family avoids companies that support abortion, pornography, non-scriptural lifestyles, anti-family entertainment, alcohol producers, tobacco product manufacturers, gambling, violations of child labor laws, and supporting terrorist nations as defined by the US Government.

Its ultimate goal is to provide an alternative investment that allows Christian and conservative investors to align their investment portfolio with their beliefs.

GUESTS: Art Ally
HOSTED BY: Bob Barber, CWS® and Mary Jo Lyons, CFP®

Mentioned In This Episode

Christian Financial Advisors
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Bob Barber, CWS®, CKA®
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Mary Jo Lyons, CFP®, CKA®
Art Ally
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The Timothy Plan
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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

[INTRODUCTION]

Bob: Welcome to Christian Financial Perspectives, a weekly podcast where we talk about ways to integrate your faith with your finances. This is Bob Barber.

Mary Jo: And I’m Mary Jo Lyons.

Bob: Are you ready to learn how to apply biblical wisdom to everyday financial decisions?

Mary Jo: Join us as we look at integrating your faith with your finances. If it’s your first time listening, welcome to our podcast, and if you’re a returning listener, welcome back.

[EPISODE]

Bob:
Each week. We like to start with talking about investing from a biblical perspective, as well as what the Bible has to say about how we handle all of God’s money on a daily basis. This week I’m really excited to welcome a special guest and longtime friend and Christian brother for over 20 years to our podcast, Art Ally. Art is the founder, president, and CEO of The Timothy Plan Mutual Funds. But before we started this morning and when I was getting ready for the podcast, I went to see what does Wikipedia say about The Timothy Plan? I hope they say the right thing, but there you go, Art. Now, I know your on, Art, and welcome to the program. So Art, I’m going to read this off of Wikipedia and you can tell me if this sounds like The Timothy Plan, but I thought they did a good job, whoever put this together: “The Timothy Plan is the first mutual fund company that established and utilizes biblically based screens as the first criteria in the selection of its investment portfolios of companies. The fund family avoids companies that support abortion, pornography, non scriptural lifestyles, anti-family entertainment, alcohol producers, tobacco product manufacturers, gambling, violators of child labor laws, and supporting terrorist nations as defined by the US Government. The fund family is categorized as biblically responsible or what we refer to as BRI. Its ultimate goal is to provide an alternative investment that allows Christians and conservative investors to align their investment portfolio with their beliefs. The Timothy Plan constantly monitors the holdings in its investment portfolios to determine if any of the companies have changed their policies and procedures, subsequent to being placed into the portfolio.” I think that’s a really nice definition of The Timothy Plan, Art. What do you think about that?

Mary Jo:
Bob, I think anywhere we go from here might be downhill. That was excellent.

Bob:
I know. Mary Jo, I’m wondering who wrote that on Wikipedia because you know, somebody is writing that, but they did a good job. Maybe it’s somebody on your staff and you don’t know it, Art.

Mary Jo:
Hmm. That’s true. I think it definitely summarized everything. We couldn’t have said it better. We do like to start each episode with a scripture or a couple of scriptures. Sometimes, we might get a little carried away. Today’s topic made me think about Matthew 12:26, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world but forfeits his soul.” Bob, I think you had another one you also wanted to share.

Bob:
I did. Yeah. I came up with 1 Timothy 3. How about that one? Timothy Plan?

Mary Jo:
That’s very timely.

Bob:
2 Timothy 3:14-17, “But you must remain faithful to those things that you have been taught. You know that they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You’ve been taught the holy scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God teaches us to prepare and equip his people to do every good word.”

Mary Jo:
So Art, how do you like that welcome to Christian Financial Perspectives podcast? We wanted to thank you for joining us today.

Art:
Well, thank you. Can I throw a scripture in?

Mary Jo:
Absolutely. The more the merrier.

Art:
Well, Bob kind of hit it, but he was a couple of chapters off on the genesis of our name. It comes from 1 Timothy 5:8 which says, “If you don’t provide for your family, those of your own household, you have denied the faith and are worse than an unbeliever.” But verse 22 in that same chapter says avoid evil. That’s how we came up with the name of the fund family.

Mary Jo:
Oh, now that’s an interesting perspective.

Art:
And then my favorite scripture, 2 Corinthians 6:17 that says, “Come out from among them and be separate, says, the Lord do not touch what is unclean and I will receive you.” So, we’re doing good on scripture today.

Mary Jo:
We are, and we do have quite a number of questions lined up for you, Art. But I wanted to start with your perspective on the Values Voter Summit held this past September in Washington DC. I know Bob was fortunate enough to go in person, and I was able to listen live to some of the online speeches. I listened to your interview with Dan Celia where you talked about getting started with BRI. I found it interesting that you shared investors weren’t thinking about using their investment portfolios to celebrate and support companies that mirrored their Christian values when you got started some 20 plus years ago. It just didn’t occur to them. I loved what Dan said that we cannot compartmentalize our money from those values that we hold close to our hearts. As we all know where our heart goes, so goes our money. I like to say we vote with our values. So if I want to avoid a retail store chain that doesn’t support my values or a bank that celebrates causes that I don’t believe in, then why would I want to invest in those companies? It’s because we don’t think about it. We don’t realize that there is an alternative, but there is an alternative and it’s called biblically responsible investing. It’s what The Timothy Plan is all about. I wanted you and Bob to share a little bit of your perspectives for our listeners on the Voter Summit and your experience there.

Art:
Family Research Council is one of the top ministries in America, and the Values Voter Summit, if it’s not the event of the year nationally, it’s darn close. I mean, it is just first class. I hope Bob drank some of the coffee cause we were sponsoring the hospitality area right across from the auditorium.

Bob:
Art, I drank a lot of it, so.

Art:
All right, well I just got the bill for Bob. So I want to thank you for it. They are very proud of their coffee at that hotel, but you know, we love FRC and the values voters is one of the top events nationally, and I would recommend any listener who can possibly go next year, think about it, then check it out on the web and get there. I mean, they have the top conservative leaders in America, one after another, after another, as you’ve seen just outstanding

Bob:
For me, it really opened my eyes, Mary Jo and Art, to the fact that when we choose to be biblically responsible with the investments that God has entrusted to us, it’s not only in obedience to God and following scriptural guidelines, which is true to making a political stance for conservative values as well, but the values voter summit forced me to ask myself, as well as others, a deep question beyond biblically responsible. And Art, I think you’ll find this interesting is how can you call yourself a conservative if you’re knowingly and intentionally supporting liberal agendas in your investment portfolio. So, it just doesn’t make sense for me or those that subscribe to biblically responsible investing, to vote one way while completely supporting another way. So in your Timothy plan brochure, you state, “The way we invest not only affects our financial goals, but it also affects the broader culture and when we choose to invest in any security, we become owners in that company and help support or financially support the mission and vision of that company.” So, it’s really about stewardship and how we’re voting when we choose to be BRI, is that correct, Art?

Art:
Well, it’s even more than that, Bob. I mean, you’re absolutely right, but the majority of investors really don’t understand how investments work. But you look at where your money is invested, especially if it’s in a mutual fund, they show you what companies are owned in that fund. But most investors really don’t understand what they’re investing in. That’s why they need people like you to help open their eyes. In fact, as you well know, we have tools now that if they want to use them, and you have it available for your clients, called the eVALUEator that will tell you how much money that you may have invested in any mutual fund or any individual company, but any mutual fund, how much that fund has invested in companies that are involved in all these unbiblical activities, which have nothing to do, in too many cases, with the business they’re in. It’s just that they’re following an unholy agenda. People would be shocked if they understood how much. And these funds, in fairness to them, are not doing it on purpose. But if they’re not carefully screening, they are going to end up owning companies that anybody with real Christian convictions and values does not want to be an owner of.

Bob:
I want to mention, too, that we just did a podcast with Dave Hart from eVALUEator services. So, if anyone does want to know what is in their mutual funds and what stocks they’re investing in, or if those companies possibly embalmed and immoral agendas aside from what they should be doing. Like I remember Dave said, if it’s a company that makes desk, that’s what they need to be doing is making desks. We can do that. We have that eVALUEator program, and we’ve subscribed to it for many years. Going forward, Art, we have you on our program today because you’re the founder of The Timothy Plan, and I’ve known you for many years, Art. There’s probably somebody listening that might’ve never heard of The Timothy Plan. So, I want you to tell them who is The Timothy Plan and what made you start something like The Timothy Plan so many years ago?

Art:
Hmm. Well, you want the truth?

Bob:
Of course I want the truth.

Art:
Of course you do. Of course you want the truth. Well, the Lord has this 2×4, and it’s got my name on it because I came into this kicking and screaming. I’ve been in the business probably 18 years helping Christian clients, just like you do Bob, invest and all of that. I was oblivious to the fact that, you know, I’m helping them invest in these various funds, but these funds, I began to learn, are operating totally contrary to biblical principles. They were funding stuff that was just unbelievable. So, I searched. I searched the entire industry to see if anybody was doing any kind of biblical or moral screening. And the fact is there was a whole bunch of what’s called SRI – socially responsible funds – out there, but they were screening for very liberal issues. Nobody was willing to step up and screen for principles that are in alignment with God’s word. And so it was either forget about it or start the fund family. I learned, as you have Bob over the years, you’d go home and talk to mama about it because God has given women a sense that us thick headed men just don’t have.

Bob:
That’s the truth.

Art:
All right there we go. I opened that door, didn’t I? Bonnie supported it fully, but we launched The Timothy Plan in 1994. It was, as you said in the beginning, a real struggle because people were just not thinking in those terms, you know, it’s like churches, church and businesses, and what do the two have to do each other? Well, we all know on this call, they have everything to do with each other, but it took eight years for people really to start tracking on this, and the Lord and I had a lot of conversations during those years, and finally it hit me that they don’t know. They just don’t know this stuff. They know the business they’re in, they know what they do and their frame of reference, but in investing, it’s a mystery to them. So that prompted me to hibernate for three months, search God’s word, take a lot of material I had from other accomplished authors, and put together a biblical stewardship study guide that was 9 hours in length that actually exposed everything from soup to nuts, from cradle to grave, of what God’s word says about handling money. We’re dealing with a narrow aspect of money. Well, a pretty wide one, actually, investing. But when you step back and think about it, money is central to everybody’s life. You’re either working to earn it, trying to get out of debt, budget it, spend it, save it, put kids through college with it, or get ready for retirement. Money is central. Give it, which is an afterthought in too many cases, and all of our training, as a general rule on handling money, comes from the world, not the church. And so I really wanted a complete, thorough work, and we did it. We trained over 1000 financial advisors and you went through it yourself, Bob.

Bob:
I did. I remember going through that.

Art:
Well, what we’re doing now, for the general public, because it sat around for a few years, by the end of this week or early next week, we will have this course fully up on the internet at no cost where people can go through it at their own leisure. It’s going to have a link on our website, on Timothyplan.com website, where you can go through this incredible work. Not because I wrote it because I didn’t. The Holy spirit did. I do not have the ability to do what finally came out, but it is so comprehensive on every aspect of handling money biblically that when you go through it, you’re going to find out you’ve been handling it exactly the opposite of what God’s word commands us to do. So, that was one of the thrills of my life to get that out there because if we start handling it God’s way, it’s going to remove so much pressure from people, so much anguish for people, and probably cut the divorce rate down because money is at the center of all of it. Maybe cut the crime rate down because the real motive in most crimes is money and start doing it God’s way. Investing is certainly a critical part, but only a piece of it.

Bob:
I can tell and, Mary Jo, you can too, that The Timothy Plan is so much more, just a mutual fund family. There’s a DNA to it that’s all about bringing God’s word to God’s people and educating them. Because we’ve got the founder here, Mary Jo, and you can tell.

Mary Jo:
I hear that passion. I think Art has a stone tablet in front of him.

Art:
I’m not that old. Come on.

Mary Jo:
But Art, I wanted to ask you, you shared so much there about the history of The Timothy Plan and your thoughts originally, but what was the original vision and mission of The Timmy Plan so many years ago when you started?

Art:
Well, I’ve been very active in Central Florida, which is where we’re headquartered, in battling abortion and pornography. In fact, I was chairman of our first three life chains, and here I am in the investment business. When it started dawning on me that I’m helping my clients invest in companies that we’re battling in the streets to try to stop, it was a wake up call. The other wake up call was nobody was doing this, and it’s either start it or move on and try to minimize it like most people tend to do, but I could not leave it. I had to really put together something. From the beginning, we were running red ink, far above what most people would even have nightmares about, every month because based on assets is where our revenue helps pay expenses from. We weren’t growing, but people came alongside at just the right time. This has been God’s fund from day one. It’s not mine. He did use me because of the 2×4, but Christ is a chairman of our board. We made the determination from day one that we are going to honor him in everything we do. That covers from the back office administration to the marketing material. From day one when we were losing $60,000 – $70,000 a month, our marketing material rivaled that of some of the big brokerage firms. What irritates me is when people wear a fish on their shirt sleeve or when they do something for Jesus, but they do it in such a shoddy or amateurish way. We were convicted not to do that. He is our chairman. We’re going to honor him. Everything we’re going to do is first class. We’ve got the top money management firms in the country managing our various funds, and we have 13 funds now. We’ve grown from just a single fund to 13 because you have to do, as I know you preach about Bob, asset allocation. So, we needed screened funds in all the asset classes. But as people started waking up, we finally got out of the red ink and we are now a very solid, profitable mutual fund family, but our profits don’t go into our pockets. We support a lot of ministries. I think we majorly support. I say that with fear and trepidation, because I don’t want to get a bunch more phone calls because we can’t stretch too far, but this is God’s money, and it’s meant to fund his kingdom. We’re committed to do that. We understand the value of money. It’s a tool, and it’s a tool to accomplish his work. It’s all His, we try to be very faithful to doing that here at Timothy.

Bob:
And I must say now, Art, The Timothy Plan is over a billion dollar fund family now. I want to make sure I’m correct in that assumption.

Art:
Yes, you are.

Bob:
Yeah. I remember when that happened, and it’s not all about how much money it is, but the more people we get involved in this biblically responsible investing movement, the more wall street pays attention, and these companies pay attention. Am I right when I make that statement, Art?

Art:
Well, you’re right. The industry is so humongous. We’re still a very small player. But as my friend, Kevin Freeman, and I think you’ve met Kevin, said to our board of trustees, he says, “You know what?” When we hit the billion, he says, “You have taken $1 billion out of the hands of the world.” And as you grow from here, that’s only going to increase, but why in the world would anybody, if there is an alternative. And the thing that I dealt with from day one was my friends on Wall Street said, “You can’t do this.” I said, “What do you mean I can’t do this?” They said, “You cannot get good performance if you screen out some of the companies that are doing very well.” And my comment to them then is the same as it is today. Oh, obedience trumps performance every single time, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to get substandard performance. We’ve got the top money managers in the country managing our various funds. And at times, we may trail some of the others in the industry in performance, but we’re never going to hurt anybody. We’re very conservative. And the only reason we would ever trail anybody, whether it’s the indexes or other funds, is because something people really don’t realize is there’s about five humongous companies that dominate most indexes. And what those five do, let’s say the S&P 500. 5 of the 500 determine the performance of that index. All five of them, we will not own because of their vile activity. So when they are doing well, we will trail them some, but all the other funds will be investing in them and so they’ll look like they’re doing great, but sooner or later, everything comes back down to earth again. And so over time, we will perform as good as anybody, but we’re going to do it in a way where people will be honoring God in their investments, and it’ll be a less volatile way to invest. We understand today that the investor’s main objective today, unlike it was when I started in this business 45 years ago when it was performance, performance, performance, today, it’s don’t lose my money. We take that seriously, but we also want to get a good return. We’ve been doing that over the last 24 years for our shareholders.

Mary Jo:
There’s so much there that we want to explore a little further, but first I want to step back into something that you said. I love that The Timothy Plan lifts up and celebrates companies that promote Christian values, but I also love that the company does so much good with their profits. So can you tell us about some of the projects and charities that you support and the kinds of positive impact that The Timothy Plan has had over the years?

Art:
Well, one of the big problems with nonprofits is all of them are competing for what seems like a shrinking pool of capital. It takes money for them to be effective. And because we’ve been blessed, we are able to share it with them, whether it’s House of Hope here locally, if you wanted some names, I mean, they take in troubled children and imbue them with scriptural principles, and those kids turn around. We support organizations like Family Research Council that puts on the Values Voter Summit. Liberty Counsel. I mean, it goes on and on. Florida family policy council. We try to prudently share with ministries that have the most impact on our culture.

Mary Jo:
Are there any global missions that are a focus for you?

Art:
Well, we are a big supporter of Israel. We support “Hope for Israel”, a ministry over there that services their nation. We have funded church planting ministries, but the majority of them are local in the US, I mean domestic industries, but it stretches far beyond Orlando. But as long as God provides, we will be sharing.

Mary Jo:
Well, you mentioned Israel, and we know that is one of your newer funds, the Israel Fund. How did that come to be?

Art:
Aww, now thank you. Folks, that was not a setup question, but it’s my favorite one. We launched that thing probably six years ago, and it came out of a conviction that Israel was not getting a lot of love from America, whether it’s politically or the church itself. We wanted to show support for Israel, and we launched this fund strictly to show support for Israel. What I learned after we launched it is Israel is one of the most powerful economic powerhouses in the world. I mean, they are leading edge in medical research and technology, very creative. For a little country, they are unbelievable in the economic power that they wield. So, it has been a very good fund for us, but that’s not why we launched it, but we’re pleased to say, we’re glad we have it. People are starting to wake up a little bit, and God’s word is very clear. He will bless those that bless his people and curse those that don’t. We’re not doing it for the blessings. We’re doing it to be faithful, but it has turned out to be a really good investment program for our shareholders. We actually go over there twice a year with our investors and tour the Holy Land. It has been incredible.

Bob:
I will tell you, Art, that we have a lot of clients here that have have invested in that Israel Fund. And like you said, it wasn’t for the reason of the returns as much as it was they wanted to be supporting Israel.

Art:
Right.

Bob:
They are really convicted of that and will stand through thick and thin in support of Israel, which I think is a wonderful thing. I was looking at this and thinking, do you have a scripture that goes with just that particular fund?

Art:
Well, Bob it’s called the Bible. I couldn’t pick out one, but throughout the Bible, it is very clear. The only reason we have any hope is we’re grafted into Israel as Christian believers. There is a cancer among Christian churches today in this replacement theology nonsense, which is so unbiblical. It’s like the Christian church has now replaced Israel as God’s people because Israel rejected Christ. God doesn’t work like that. In fact, I teach a Torah class that is so deep in that that I could go on and on for 2-3 hours for the parts of scripture that fit that. But we are commanded, or cautioned, that he will bless those that bless Israel, and he will curse those that curse Israel, and God doesn’t change his mind.

Mary Jo:
I like what your brochure says. “Every dollar is a vote.” Can you talk more about this?

Art:
Well, it really is. The reason so many companies, and we screen out about 800 of the 8,000 domestic publicly traded companies, the main reason they hit our prohibited list is their behavior. A lot of that is due to pressure they receive from the other side. So for Christians to end up owning shares of that company, there is no reason for that company to change our bad behavior. What if every Christian would come out from among them and be separate, just like it says in 2 Corinthians. 60% of all the money in mutual funds is owned by investors who claim to be Bible believing Christians. What if they would do it God’s way? America would change overnight. These corporations would reform overnight, but they don’t get any penalty or pressure from our side. And whether we do or not is beside the point, the point is, are you going to be obedient? Are you going to follow what God’s word says? All we do here is give an opportunity, no requirement. We don’t judge anybody. We don’t even judge these corporations, but I’ll guarantee you we won’t own them if they’re pursuing an unholy agenda. But that’s what, I guess, we mean by the “every dollar is a vote” because you can absolutely vote by filling that company’s shares with your vacancy.

Bob:
I think that that’s going to nearly sum it up for us, Mary Jo, because as I think about this, that’s the true question. What are you going to do now that you know?

Art:
Right.

Bob:
And that’s the question I asked. And it’s interesting to me, Art, as you know, I’ve been doing this a long time and you and I have been working with each other over 20 years, we will have Christian brothers and sisters that will know about being BRI. Some of them will come here. Many of them will come here, and we will form a biblically responsible portfolio for them. And occasionally, we’ll have one leave to go back, and I’ve never understood that one.

Art:
For sure.

Bob:
But the question to anyone that’s listening is are you prepared to be biblically responsible and honor God with your investments? We would love to help you with that and give you a report from our eVALUEator that will show you exactly what is in your portfolio. And if you can do something about this, then we’d like to help you. I know sometimes you have a 401k, and there’s no choices there. We just need to talk about that and have a discussion. What do you do in that case?

Mary Jo:
Art, we wanted to take a moment and thank you for your time today. We know that this has been a very difficult time for you and your family. Bob and I want you to know that we are continuing to pray for you. Your son, Steven, who’s very involved in The Timothy Plan, is facing some serious health issues. God’s got this, and we are going to continue to pray for healing for him, but our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family as you fight this battle. I wanted to leave you with a scripture and hope that you can find peace in this. “The Rewards of Wisdom” from Proverbs 3:8, “It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones, my son. Do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments.”

Art:
Excellent. And Rachael has been in our prayers ever since.

Bob:
Thank you.

Art:
We’ve got a lot in common, my friend.

Bob:
Yeah, we do. We do. Well, we love your brother, and we really appreciate you being on the podcast with us. We will pray that this will be heard by many ears, and that the Holy Spirit will speak to them to move in a way that can make a difference.

Art:
Amen. God bless. Thank you for the good work you guys are doing.

Mary Jo:
That’s all for now.

[DISCLOSURES]

Comments from today’s show are for informational purposes only and not to be considered investment advice or recommendations to buy or sell any company that may have been mentioned or discussed. The opinions expressed are solely those of the hosts, Bob Barber and Mary Jo Lyons. Bob and Mary Jo do not provide tax advice and encourage you to seek guidance from a tax professional. Investment advisory services offered through Christian Investment Advisors Inc. DBA Christian Financial Advisors, a registered investment advisor. There is no assurance or certainty that any investment strategy will be successful in meeting its objectives. Investors should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses of the funds carefully before investing. The prospectus contains this and other information about the funds. Contact Bob Barber at 672 Ridge Hill Drive, New Braunfels, Texas, 78130 or at (830) 609-6986 to obtain a prospectus, which should be read carefully before investing or sending money.