Foster Friess on giving: Part 2
- Mary Naber
- 1999 5 Nov
It's always encouraging to hear about successful people who are committed to sharing both their resources and their faith. Foster Friess and his wife, Lynn, fit this category.
As one of the most impressive mutual fund managers in the country, Foster brought the Brandywine Fund to fame as one of the top performing no-load U.S. Growth Funds in the 1990s. But perhaps his most significant achievements have been in what he has given away because of his commitment to Christ. He and his wife take their giving very seriously, and Foster talks about that today in Part 2 of our interview.
Well, you know I've had a chance to do some snooping and I am so cheered by all these individuals and organizations that you support.
I'm grateful to be able to partner up with them. My wife, Lynn, and I find ministries that have been going for some time and then kick some extra money in. If you call us generous, I will say that if this were my money you wouldn't be getting a cent of it. It's the Lord's money. I know how selfish I am when left to my own devices.
Lynn and I both became committed to the Lord back in 1978, and a few years went by. I'd been going to Men's Bible Study at 6:30 am on Tuesday mornings and had really been enjoying it... Well, one day I'm driving down the street in a new car. And I'm so excited. It's got this stickshift. And it's zipping along. And suddenly a car passes by -- rusted through to the interior. But I remembered its black bumper sticker, "If you love the Lord, tithe. Anyone can honk."
So I was convicted by that and after a few months, Lynn and I finally made the decision to begin tithing. So I went to my Bible Study teacher, and I'm all pumped up with spiritual arrogance -- Boy! I'm really walking the walk -- and he could tell that I was feeling pretty good about this decision. "What?" he said, "You mean you're still keeping 90% for yourselves?"
I remember as a young child, growing up in Northern Wisconsin where I would sell bean supper tickets to our Boy Scouts dinner. I was always the one who sold the most tickets. I'd knock on doors, and go to all the neighbors. I really got excited about that.
What are some economic events that have left impressions on your life?
The Arab/Israeli conflict and embargo was a very traumatic event. As a young man at the time, my entire life had been expansion, expansion, expansion. Suddenly there was this pervasive fear. Were we going through a major paradigm shift that could threaten US preeminence because its dependence on oil had become so great? These events helped launch our firm because we made a decision that things were murky with such dramatic changes. We reacted in a very definitive way by going into 100% cash, which allowed us to make money in 1974 when the S&P 500 went down 27%. The mindset that stocks don't go up and up and up is one of the reasons that we didn't have trouble when our holdings were in big trouble in December of 1997.
Were you comforted by Christ in the storm of criticism for cashing out?
My Christian faith helped me a lot more in 1997, because I was less fearful about it... I was willing to suffer the consequences because I knew I was doing the right thing for the best interests of my clients.
Click here if you haven't read Foster's testimony in Part 1 of his interview.
Click here to read part 3, Foster Friess on finance.