Friday, January 10, 2014

Strategic pathways work continues by Brethren Benefit Trust board

By Brian Solem

At its annual November meeting, the Board of Directors for Brethren Benefit Trust’s pension, insurance, and asset management ministries pushed forward its strategic pathway process, made small but important adjustments to its investment program, and requested further dialogue regarding BBT’s Church Workers’ Assistance Plan.

At its Nov. 22-23 meeting, which was preceded by two days of committee meetings, the board spent two afternoons led by Randy Yoder working at creating new mission and vision statements. It also affirmed BBT’s Ethos Statement and Purpose Statement (both of which can be viewed at ) and developed a set of five Core Values, which emerged from BBT’s previous set of values. The core values are: Act with integrity, Lead with compassion, Provide competitive services, Encourage mutual support, Model social responsibility.

In December, the Strategic Planning Committee worked with the board’s ideas and will present draft statements, as well as priorities for BBT, at a next meeting in April.

Other important events from the meetings, some of which were held at Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren, include:
  • Upon recommendation from its investment consultant team, Marquette Associates, the board approved the move of Retirement Benefit Fund assets from its Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities Fund to a new All Asset Fund, which is currently invested through the PIMCO All Asset mutual fund. Adding this fund broadens BBT’s inflation protection options.
  • Because the manager of the Domestic Stock Value Fund, Iridian Asset Management LLC, invests that fund in a primarily mid-cap style, the board agreed that the name be changed to the Domestic Stock Mid Cap Fund. The board also requested a complete review of all fund names to ensure consistency across BBT’s ministries and in reports from its vendors.
  • To better serve Brethren Pension Plan members, the board approved an exploration of offering target date funds for the denomination’s retirement plan. This investment style allows an investor to choose a fund based on the number of years before retirement, and the level of risk and reward is adjusted by an investment manager based on retirement date. BBT staff will bring findings back to the board in April.
  • Two new socially responsible investing (SRI) fund programs will be explored by staff. First, the board approved the exploration of a set of Tactical Funds for Brethren Foundation that would be compliant with BBT’s socially responsible investing tenets. Its current, five-fund Tactical Fund program invests in diversifying funds that BBT currently invests in mutual funds, which means they are not necessarily SRI-compliant. Second, the board recognized the need for a Balanced Fund for Brethren Pension Plan members; currently, the Balanced Fund invests in US Treasuries.
  • Wayne Scott was selected by the board to be its self-appointed member starting in July 2014. He has served on the board since 2010.
  • BBT’s 2014 budget was approved by the board. It reflected a 5 percent decrease over the previous year’s budget.
  • The BBT board approved revisions to its Articles of Organization. These changes will be outlined and brought to Annual Conference delegates in July 2014.
  • The Investment Committee reviewed two of BBT’s investment managers--Segall Bryant and Hamill, which oversees BBT’s Large Cap Growth portfolio; and Kayne Anderson Rudnick, which oversees the agency’s Small Cap portfolio. Both firms were signed on for additional three-year terms.
  • The Investment Committee approved an update to the benchmark for the Bank Loans Fund, which may be utilized by the Retirement Benefits Fund and Brethren Foundation clients. It now tracks alongside the S&P/LSTA US Leveraged Loan 100 Index, which is a more cost-effective benchmark for the fund.
-- Brian Solem is publications coordinator for Brethren Benefit Trust.

Source: 1/10/2014 Newsline

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