Friday, July 23, 2010

Romary elected chair of the Brethren Benefit Trust Board at July meeting.

Deborah Romary was elected as chair of the Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) Board of Directors at the group’s July 7 meeting in Pittsburgh, Pa., following Annual Conference 2010.

This election comes three years after Romary joined the BBT Board, during which time she has served as the chair of the Investment Committee. She brings to the position insight she has gained while serving as chief executive officer of Romary Financial Services Inc., a financial planning firm in Fort Wayne, Ind. She attends Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne.

"The BBT Board and staff have appreciated Deb’s strong leadership and unique perspective that comes from being a financial planner, an economist, and a graduate of Bethany Theological Seminary," said BBT president Nevin Dulabaum. "I look forward to working with her in this new role."

Before the board meeting began, a luncheon was held to honor the service of departing chair Harry Rhodes, who completed his allotted eight-year term on the BBT Board this year. His tenure as chair began in July 2006.

The nine members present at the meeting also elected Karen Orpurt Crim as vice chair of the board, who has filled this role since July 2009. Dulabaum will continue to serve as the board’s secretary.

The board also voted on the officers of BBT’s corporation: Dulabaum will serve as president, Brethren Pension Plan director Scott Douglas will serve as vice president, director of office operations Donna March will serve as secretary, and financial officer Jerry Rodeffer will continue to serve as treasurer.

In other news from the meeting, the Annuity Benefit Reduction Assistance Program has been extended through Dec. 2011. The board voted to extend the program, a grant issued to qualifying Brethren Pension Plan annuitants to help offset the hardship some members have experienced due to last year’s annuity assumption rate reduction to 5 percent. The grant program will now continue through 2011 and then will be reassessed. New applications will be processed and payments will begin approximately 30 days following approval. Current recipients of the grant must reapply for assistance by Sept. 1 to avoid an interruption in payments.

"The members who have been most impacted by the reduction in benefits have appreciated receiving this grant," said Scott Douglas, director of Brethren Pension Plan. "We’re glad the board voted to continue to assist those members."

The board also approved creationg of a Treasury-Free Bond Fund for Pension Plan members, in order to provide members the option of restricting US Treasuries from their Brethren Pension Plan portfolios. This option is managed like the Bond Fund, but cannot invest in Treasuries.

Iridian has been retained as a large cap value investment manager for BBT. The Investment Committee commended investment management firm Iridian for its performance on BBT’s behalf in the large cap value sector. The firm’s three-year rate of return for Brethren Pension Plan exceeds its benchmark by almost 7 percent. More impressively, Iridian earned a 36.5 percent rate of return in 2009 compared with the S&P 500, which earned 26.5 percent. Iridian, based in Westport, Conn., has been serving BBT since 1993. At each board meeting, the Investment Committee performs a three-year review of one of its eight investment managers.

-- Brian Solem serves on the communications staff of Brethren Benefit Trust.

Source: 7/23/2010 Newsline

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