“When values, thoughts, feelings, and actions are in alignment, a person becomes focused, and character is strengthened.” – John C. Maxwell

As personal values become a growing part of investment conversations, I began to think about where these values came from. I was intrigued to discover a piece of research undertaken by Valuegraphics. The idea was to gather data from across the globe to identify whether various cultures held common or opposing values. The graphic below reflects the headline results from this titanic research project:

56 Most Influential Values

To explore the impact of society, family, and tradition on how values are shaped, Valuegraphics created 401 metrics and 370 questions in 152 different languages. In total, half a million surveys were completed to uncover the most important and cherished values across the globe. Here are the top ten values:

Top 10 Values Across the Globe

Discovering Family is the most important value may be unsurprising, but it is encouraging to see the inclusion of other “community” values – Relationships and Belonging in the top ten alongside Loyalty and Religion / Spirituality. You would have thought Love would have been well up the list, but no, it only merited a place at twenty-four. Financial and Employment security scored highly across most of the world, no surprises there.

There are some fascinating continental variations across the global community. Morality had one of the widest variances. It was number two in the Middle East, but near the bottom in Central and South America. Freedom of speech featured prominently in North America and the Middle East but was the second lowest value overall. Respect, which was overall ranked number fifteen, was all but dismissed in North America and Europe, scoring higher in Africa and Central and South America.

Global Variations of Values

John Lennon famously answered “Happy” when his schoolteacher asked what he wanted to be when he grew up. She then replied, “I don’t think you understand the assignment” to which he said, “I don’t think you understand life!” Yet, in the study, we find that Happiness came below Education and Authority. At least one encouraging result was that Money didn’t feature in the top fifty!

Coming back to our initial comments and the growing interest in reflecting personal values across personal investment portfolios… With the volume of media coverage at COP 26 et al, it’s surprising that Environmentalism came so far down the list at number 36. We have found increasing interest from clients in aligning their core values within their investment portfolios. We are due to undergo a full review of all our portfolios over the months of April and May. Our investment committee will explore some new opportunities for our True Wealth portfolios in the fixed interest asset class. In addition, we will be interrogating our portfolio construction methodology and selection process to ensure they remain robust and defensible.

We will be reporting back the outcomes in our Spring Client Update. In the meantime we look forward to introducing Emilia, our newest team member, before too long.