Hello Money, Goodbye Gun Stocks

Against gun violence? Get your money out of gun stocks

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Curious if you're inadvertently funding the gun industry with your mutual funds? Wonder no more — and then take action!
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@chrismessina Thanks for the hunt! Excited to be on PH again. Goodbye Gun Stocks is a 30-day campaign to help millions of American investors divest from gun stocks. Over 90% of the country supports expanding background checks to all gun sales and the majority supports increased safety regulation, but many of these same people are invested in gun companies and don’t even know it. My team analyzed $5.9 trillions of US stock funds (over 12,000 of them), and found out 35% of them include gun & ammo maker/seller stocks, totalling $17.3 billions invested in gun-related stocks. Using Goodbye Gun Stocks, you can quickly test your mutual fund and find similar funds without gun stocks. Screen funds by: - Gun stock percentage (makers or sellers) - Fund category and brand - Annual expenses, past returns and risk We're a husband-wife-run fintech startup, founded after I discovered I’d unwittingly invested in the Monsanto Co. via my 401k. This is an extension of our main product Hello Money, which is quoted to be one of the 7 Best Personal Finance Apps by the Product Hunt team https://medium.com/@producthunt/.... Product Hunters are the best group of people we could ask help with spreading the word and improving the product. Looking forward to your feedback and questions here and on Twitter. Join the conversation with the hashtag #GoodbyeGunStocks. And here's a mobile-friendly promo video for your enjoyment:
Upvote (33)Share
Awesome tool @keywonc and @mshillman I own a lot of VTI which I already figured would have some exposure to gun stocks, so no surprise there. The feature that I found most useful was the suggested alternatives. I had no idea about Vanguard FTSE Social Index Fund which seems like a decent (gun free) alternative to VTI. I will consider adding it to my portfolio now. Do you have any plans to add data on bonds to it?
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@rossgeesman Thank you for trying it out and I am super glad to see that you're finding it useful. I also tested Vanguard Total Market fund for my own portfolio, and was nicely surprised to discover the Vanguard FTSE Social Index Fund (VFTSX) for the first time too. Yay! Not as an investing advice, but as another user who looked into the same replacement: VFTSX covers mostly large and mid cap, and isn't exactly a total stock market fund in itself, although both VTI and VFTSX are classified under "US Large Blend." I still chose to switch to VFTSX since I am okay skipping small cap at the moment. However if getting total market coverage is important to you, you might want to look into other funds whose name or benchmark includes "Russell 3000." Roughly speaking, total market (Russell 3000) = Large cap (Russell 1000) + Mid/Small cap (Russell 2000). Most of the Russell 3000 index funds on the market are ETFs, and sometimes we don't have full data on their holdings to ascertain if they are completely gun free, but we try to provide even the partial result whenever available. Hope this helps. Please let me and @mshilman know if you have any more questions!
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@keywonc That's a good point. I'll take a look at the Russell 3000 funds as well. Thanks!
@rossgeesman We tried to support bond funds, but it requires smarter processing of the holdings data than we were able to manage this time around. Maybe for V2!!
@mshilman Understandable. The amount of work you had to do for just stocks must have been quite an undertaking.
Why 30 days only? Gun stocks aside, this looks like one of the best fund screeners I’ve seen.
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Hi @curiouspaul! Thank you for the compliment. Which part did you find useful? I’ve used it for my own fund selection too. The 30-day expiration is intended to provide a sense of urgency to the participants, bring focused attention to the issue, and get clear insights. We’ve seen (and I’ve personally run) online campaigns that eventually become deserted. By putting an expiration date, we can do a better job directing attention to the topic of gun stock divestment for the timeframe, and analyzing the participation to get actionable insights. As an early stage fintech startup, we’re interested in exploring the topic of “truly personalized socially responsible investing.” An expiration date allows us to support and evaluate this particular offering in a focused manner, so that we can take the lessons and define our next steps.
@keywonc Makes sense. I have firsthand experience too and agree campaigns are hard to maintain after the first wave of participants. The part I found useful was that I could easily see all funds from one brand or a category, and narrow them down by things like expense ratios. For instance, I was able to see all 12 Technology Sector funds(https://goodbyegunstocks.com/alt...), with expense below 0.5% in one place. I’ve never been able to browse a sea of funds like this.
@curiouspaul There you go, yep it’s pretty cool to see all funds in one place, and be able to slice and dice them in different ways :)
@curiouspaul @keywonc "Sea of funds" -- love it!!
This is funny. Seems like a naive investment choice considering gun stocks are booming right now (thanks Obama!) and most likely won't slow down unless Donald Trump is elected president. But always good to have principles I guess.
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@tmorkes Depends on how you see it. For some, it may be naive to put a long term bet on an industry that may not have a sustainable future. Fossil fuel company valuations are in question as more climate policies are announced. Now more investment experts believe that it is not a sound financial bet any more, triggering a new and bigger wave of divestment. Warren Buffett changed his position on tobacco, saying even if the economics of the business is good, the future may not be bright due to increasing stigma and regulations in the developed markets. Gun stocks plummeted in the 1990s as it became uncool to be a shooter. The industry has suffered from stigmatization before and can again. Instead of having to watch them, I'd avoid them in principle if I can.
@keywonc Right....and with a long term bet, people are better investing in low fee index funds. over the next year, gun stocks will go up. if Hillary Clinton is elected president, they will skyrocket. Now if you're looking "long term" to 10 years, again - you're better off investing in a low fee index fund via Vanguard, vs. a principle play like this. More power to the people who want to invest in things that don't offend them...I'm merely articulating that divesting into non-gun-owning mutual funds is not the best way to capitalize on non-gun-owning stocks.
@tmorkes You may be able to do both today. If you tried Goodbye Gun Stocks, you might have discovered that there are many low-cost ETFs and index funds that are gun-free. Plus, it turns out Vanguard also carries a social index fund that could be an alternative to your large cap fund like SP 500. https://goodbyegunstocks.com/alt... Link will ask you to sign in, pls give it a try :) Gun/ammo maker and seller stocks take up only 0.5% of total US stock market combined. For some, that is negligible. For others, it's something you really want to avoid, especially if you can still have a decent bottom line. That population isn't so small. Campaign 2 Unload divestment campaign for example is a coalition of 50 organizations that have 20M supporters across the country. The thing is, you wouldn't know what your actual choices are unless you can literally look at them. We didn't know this until we sifted through the actual fund data and put it in the UI for us to see ourselves either. That's why we took the time to build this tool, so that more people can see what options they have and where it's lacking.
Is this for US stocks only? Which stocks are gun-related? Good job!
@sanemavcil Yep, we’re currently able to screen US funds for US stocks. The gun-related stocks in the US are the following: - Gun and ammunition makers: Olin, Ruger, Smith & Wesson, Vista Outdoor - Gun and ammunition retail sellers: Big 5, Cabela’s, Dick’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Wal-mart. "Appreneur" is a nice title by the way :) Let me know if you have any other questions.