By Nathalie Voit
In a testament to his conservative convictions, an investment professional with over twenty-five years’ experience created an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that invests exclusively in ‘woke-free’ companies in the S&P 500. The fund, named the American Conservative Values ETF (ACVF), actively boycotts 27 companies (or roughly 27% of the S&P 500 market cap) for their ‘hostility’ to conservatives, including major market players like Apple, Amazon, Facebook, & Walt Disney.
The group, founded in 2020 by William Flaig, targets ideologically conservative investors seeking to “replace their current large-cap investments with an alternative they will be proud to own.” Flaig calls on like-minded investors to stop supporting “woke companies,” noting that “unwittingly or begrudgingly,” most conservatives’ current investments actively support the “liberal agenda,” which in turn, undermine traditional values like free speech and individual liberty.
“If the industry has to put me somewhere, I’m a socially-conscious ETF—but that’s putting a square peg in a round hole because they all lean left, while we lean right,” Flaig told Newsweek.
The fund attempts to match the general performance of the S&P 500 while making an impact. In its first 11 months, ACVF has attracted over 5,000 investors and has already tracked the market.
ACVF is premised on the notion that aside from supporting issues antithetical to the conservative cause, politically motivated companies will underperform in the market. Flaig is confident his fund can deliver shareholder returns in line with benchmarks like the S&P 500 and Russell 1000.
“Nobody wants to give up performance, so we have to be selective about who we boycott because we want to behave like the S&P 500,” he said.
Flaig admitted it would be impossible to only invest in “purely” conservative companies, noting that most companies tend to veer left in today’s world.
“It’s an unfortunate reality in the large-cap space; there’s none that have pure conservative values, so we’re in the position of just eliminating the ones that are most hostile to our values,” said Flaig.
Flaig said ACVF sometimes has to compromise. The fund, for instance, owns shares of media company Discovery but not AT&T (AT&T owns Warner Media, parent of CNN). Meanwhile, ACVF invests in Netflix even though Flaig’s own opt-in poll dubbed it the fifth most hostile company to conservatives.
“We need the market dynamic to change a bit so that tech isn’t driving returns as much as it is before we readdress that, but we know nobody in the conservative community likes Netflix,” he explained.
Entrance into the boycott list stems from a continuous process of re-evaluation and consulting with investors. Recent additions to the list include Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola, which have publicly opposed the controversial Georgia voting law passed earlier in March. Other ‘off-limits’ investments include Bank of America, Lowe’s, and American Express for their purported teaching of critical race theory.
The group also divulged its holdings of Nasdaq Inc. following news that the second-largest stock exchange will now require companies with listed shares to adhere to diversity quotas. According to an Aug. 26 press release, listed companies will need to prove they have at least two ‘diverse’ members on their board in an annual report or explain why they do not. Favorable candidates include women, ethnic minorities, and LGBTQ+ members.
“I think a lot of industries will start responding as conservatives get some momentum and familiarity with advocacy. It has to move the needle. We’re just too large to be ignored when half of every company’s customers and half of every company’s employees are in agreement,” said Flaig.