SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Investment managers have been called a lot of different names over the years, but "the reverend" isn't usually one of them.
The Rev. Richard P. Zang, a partner at Crowe Portfolio Management, hears it all the time.
The Rev. Zang is an active priest in the Roman Catholic Church who recently joined Crowe Portfolio Management, a firm that offers investment advice to individuals, corporations and tax-exempt institutions.
Harmonizing two of his long-time passions - investing and God - the Rev. Zang works as an investment adviser with Crowe, and as an active priest within the Congregation of Holy Cross, the religious order that runs the University of Notre Dame du Lac.
In fact, most of the Rev. Zang's investment experience comes from his work as chief investment officer of Notre Dame's endowment fund, which he headed for 12 years until 1989. The Rev. Zang is an alumnus of Notre Dame, earning a bachelor's degrees in philosophy, as well as bachelor's and master's degree in business administration, he said. (The Rev. Zang also has a master's degree in theology from the now defunct Holy Cross College, Washington, he said).
Since his time as Notre Dame's CIO, he managed Holy Cross assets in Rome, and worked in administrative jobs for his order in Austria and most recently in Phoenix, Ariz.
But when the opportunity arose last year for him to return to the investment world, he decided to return to South Bend. His move required special permission from his religious order.
The Rev. Zang hitched up with a longtime acquaintance, Michael Crowe, president of Crowe Portfolio and also a Notre Dame alumnus. Mr. Crowe said an opening had been created when his previous partner had left the business to return to his native India.
At Crowe, the Rev. Zang invests client assets mainly in mutual funds, working on a fee-based basis. The firm has less than $10 million under management, with about two-thirds of its assets in pension and related tax-exempt portfolios.
While the Rev. Zang said the firm relies on well-known names in the mutual fund industry, such as Vanguard, the firm also seeks out smaller independent funds, often following managers as they move from firm to firm, he said.
The Rev. Zang said he has had a tough time finding bargains in current markets, although he isn't overly concerned about the possibility of a stock market correction.
Even the stock market crash of 1987 doesn't stand out in his mind as a major event. He said the collapse of the "nifty 50" stocks and the oil crisis in the mid-1970s stand out more.
The Rev. Zang doesn't make social or religious themes an explicit part of his investment strategy. And he doesn't wear his religious clothing at the office, choosing instead more traditional investment garb for a recent meeting: striped shirt, red-striped tie and black wing tips.
As a member of a priestly order, the Rev. Zang has taken a vow of poverty, donating his salary to the Holy Cross order.
The Rev. Zang celebrates Mass regularly and resides in the rectory of St. Joseph's Church in South Bend.
On the business side, the Rev. Zang said he sees some opportunity for the firm in evaluating investment strategies for religious orders with assets to invest.
Social investing is prominent in religious fund investing, but perhaps the risk and return side could get more attention, with assistance from a firm like Crowe, he said.
The company also seeks to consult to corporate defined contribution plans, assisting with mutual fund selection.
For some clients, his role in the Catholic Church is not an issue positive or negative, while other feel reassured, he said.
"Some people are indifferent to it some are attracted to it," the Rev. Zang said. But in the end, "they will judge us based on performance."