Do you have a 401k? Yes? Congrats! Investing in a 401k is a commonly used way to save for whatever the future brings when you’re old—it’s a retirement investment plan that you’re able to sign up for through your employer. That said, according to today’s New York Times, your 401k provider might also have you investing in one of the three largest gun manufacturers in the country.
The New York Times reports:
Just take a look at your 401(k) plan. If you’re in one managed by Vanguard, BlackRock, Fidelity or just about any other mutual fund group, you’re most likely the owner of shares in the three primary publicly traded gun makers: Smith & Wesson; Sturm, Ruger & Company; and the Olin Corporation. If you own any of the broad index funds or even a target-date retirement fund, you’ve got a stake in the gun industry.
If you’re the type of person who signed up for your 401k and forgot all about it, this might apply to you. How do you figure out if your 401k has guns in its arsenal of assets? There are some websites that will help you take a deeper look at your portfolio. Campaign to Unload (which is apparently also backed by Snoop Dogg) has set up a website called UnloadYour401k.com where you can see which popular funds have gun providers in their portfolios. I’ll use Fidelity as an example, since that’s what Gawker Media uses:
Screeshot via UnloadYour401k.com
Three Fidelity funds contain some gun investment. Same goes for Vanguard, another 401k provider. You can look up others on that site as well, although it doesn’t get into the nitty gritty of what each fund looks like. For that, you’ll have to just go ahead and call your 401k rep. My 401k, for example, is a target date fund, which means it’s saving for me to retire at a certain time. In this case, that date is 2050. (Shit!). The fund is invested in about 10 other funds that have all different types of assets (stocks, bonds, cash) that fall into various categories (energy, technology, financial services, etc.). Stocks can vary from big investments in companies like Microsoft, Boeing, and Texas Instruments to small investments in others.
Yes, 401(k)s are complicated and varied, and your provider’s investment in Smith & Wesson might be very small, but it’s still something you can discover by simply asking the question.
If you manage your own 401k, all of this is a bit easier to figure out and change. Some providers offer 401k options that are “socially responsible”, which means they steer clear of certain companies based on ethical standards, but not all employers offer that in retirement packages (and it’s not exactly a tab you can click on a website). Regardless, it’s worth taking a few minutes to learn what hidden investments may be a part of your fund.
h/t New York Times
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