By Timothy E. Head, GuideStone Financial Resources communications
NEWPORT BEACH, California — Citing gratefulness to the Lord for the privilege to serve those who serve the Lord, GuideStone executive officers and staff provided updates on key lines of business during the summer trustee meeting.
The board met together in regular session July 25–26 in Newport Beach, California, in order to facilitate a trustee visit to the world headquarters of PIMCO, a long-time sub-adviser in GuideStone’s investment work and one of the largest bond investment companies in the world.
GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins addressed trustees about the ministry’s theme for 2016, calling it the Year of Influence, referencing 2 Corinthians 10:13, which says, “But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you.”
People and organizations of influence, Hawkins said, have vision, integrity and purpose.
Citing a Customer Satisfaction Survey GuideStone recently concluded, Hawkins said the overwhelming response was that GuideStone was “trustworthy.”
“It takes integrity to maintain trust,” Hawkins said. “We are thankful for the trust our participants place in GuideStone, and we continue to work diligently to maintain that trust.”
Retirement and Investments
Chief Operating Officer John R. Jones noted that GuideStone Funds are now available on 20 intermediary platforms, including Fidelity and Schwab, as a result of reaching out to Christian financial advisors. Financial planners use intermediary platforms to access the investments they offer to their clients. As the number of platforms offering GuideStone Funds grows, the number of potential investors grows with it.
Year-to-date, retirement and investment contributions are up 20% compared to the same period in 2015.
Medical inflation continues to plague the health care industry as a whole. Chief Financial Officer Kim Walthall reported that GuideStone continues to work diligently to keep medical rates down; however, medical inflation has been higher than projected. Published reports have indicated some state and federal health care exchange insurers have requested rate increases ranging from 50% to 65% for 2017. These dramatic increases are driven by a combination of core medical inflation and the ongoing impact of the Affordable Care Act.
While rates for GuideStone’s medical plans will increase for some participants in 2017, they will not be anywhere near the rate increase requests seen by exchange-based insurers. GuideStone’s rates will be communicated in September; churches should prepare for rate increases regardless of their provider for next year.
GuideStone’s group medical participation continues to be strong in 2016 thanks to competitive insurance plans, rates, customer service and broad provider networks along with the diligence of the sales and support teams.
Property & Casualty
GuideStone’s alliance with Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company continues to prove beneficial for both organizations as well as the churches and ministry organizations served. Premiums, year-to-date, for the property and casualty agency, which serves Texas and Alabama, total $18.6 million, up from $17.3 million at the end of 2015.
While enjoying a 99% renewal rate, GuideStone continues to grow the P&C part of its business, adding more agents to serve churches and ministries in Texas, as well as looking for opportunities in 2017 and beyond.
Mission:Dignity, GuideStone’s ministry that provides financial assistance to retired Southern Baptist ministers, workers and, in many cases, their widows, continues to add new contributors to its donor base. During Mission:Dignity Sunday, celebrated across the Southern Baptist Convention on June 26, an all-time high of 8,274 congregations participated.
Jones said Mission:Dignity continues to add new contributors, but that the ministry is also able and willing to serve more retired Southern Baptist ministers and widows in need. Trustees were asked to be alert to retired pastors or their widows in need and to let the Mission:Dignity staff know of potential opportunities to serve.
To refer a retired Southern Baptist pastor or his widow in need, visit MissionDignity.org, and select the “Refer Someone in Need” link on the right-hand side of the page. Eligibility guidelines and links for more information are available there.
Executive Officer Additions
Three new executive officers were approved by trustees.
Harry Nelson was named Chief Strategic Investment Officer, providing leadership to GuideStone’s investments division. Nelson joined GuideStone in 2013 as Executive Director of Investments Sales.
Mark Borchgardt was named Chief Services & Operations Officer, where he will oversee day-to-day service, operations and quality initiatives at GuideStone. He joined GuideStone in the Finance and Accounting area in 1996 and has held a variety of roles including financial reporting, retirement and investment product development, strategic planning and retirement services.
Harold R. Loftin, was named Chief Legal Officer & General Counsel, providing leadership and counsel on GuideStone’s regulatory and legal needs. He joined GuideStone in 2013 as associate legal counsel.
Jones told trustees that GuideStone continues to seek new measures to be effective on behalf of GuideStone’s participants, whether through new products, services or opportunities.
Hawkins echoed that sentiment, noting that GuideStone is in position to take advantage of tremendous opportunities in 2016 and beyond.