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AB readies investment services launch; trustees OK insurance rate increases

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (BP)–Southern Baptist Annuity Board President O.S. Hawkins recapped the agency’s progress in implementing its expanded ministry assignments during the July 30-31 meeting of trustees in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“As of the end of June, the Annuity Board is prepared operationally to function in a registered investment environment,” Hawkins reported. As final matters are resolved, Hawkins praised the staff’s work in preparing for the launch of new products and services.

John R. Jones, the board’s chief operating officer, told trustees that the board had hoped to convert to a registered investment environment on July 2, but that it is now anticipated to occur prior to Sept. 1. Jones added his commendations for the “second-mile” effort of the staff in preparing for the new environment. “The entire staff of the Annuity Board is to be commended for the extra effort they each demonstrated in order to be ready for this conversion,” Jones told trustees.

Upon approval of new ministry assignments by the Southern Baptist Convention during the June 2000 annual meeting, the Annuity Board sponsored the creation of AB Funds Trust, a series of no-load mutual funds. When available in a few weeks, eligible investors may open IRAs or Personal Investment Accounts by purchasing shares of AB Funds Trust through PFPC Distributors, Inc., a registered broker dealer. SBC Trust Services, Inc., an affiliate of the Annuity Board, will serve as the IRA custodian and SBC Financial Services, Inc., also an Annuity Board affiliate, will serve as the investment adviser to AB Funds Trust.

Eligible investors include participants in Annuity Board plans, those eligible to participate in Annuity Board plans and annuitants and spouses of both groups.

“The addition of these new products enables us to truly become a LifePartner(tm) with our participants,” Hawkins said. As the new products become available, eligible investors will be able to invest amounts from inheritances, personal savings and rollover amounts from IRAs and 401(k) plans.

Jeffrey P. Billinger, the board’s treasurer and chief financial officer, reported total assets were $7.4 billion at June 30, compared to $8 billion at June 30, 2000. While total assets were down due to overall market declines, net income for the second quarter was $225.9 million, the highest quarterly net income since the last quarter of 1999. Gifts to the endowment program from individuals and churches to the Adopt An Annuitant program were up by 12.3 percent over the same period last year.

Trustees approved a Jan. 1, 2002, rate increase for participants in the board’s Personal Security Program (PSP) and Employer Security Program (ESP) plans, including Medicare supplement plans. The Personal Security Program will receive a 5 percent increase while groups of 10-25 employees in the Employer Security Program will receive a 12-month rate increase of 12 percent. Insurance marketing personnel will communicate specific increases to larger groups in the Employer Security Program. Participants in the Medicare Supplement plans will receive a $20 per month increase in their premiums.

“Last year’s rate increase and changes in benefit structures have allowed us to control the overall cost to our participants,” said Doug Day, executive officer for benefit services. “Two additional medical products with enhanced plan benefits will be offered as of January 2002.” These plans will be priced according to their plan design. Participants will now have more flexibility in choosing the level of plan that best suits their particular need and cost structure.

Trustees were told there will be no rate change for dental and life insurance products. Although there will be no rate increase in long-term disability plans, benefits will be enhanced. Participants in long-term disability plans will receive specific information describing the additional benefits. A short-term disability product will become available for all PSP and ESP participants. Trustees were told that participants have shown a keen interest in long-term care coverage provided through GE Capital Assurance, with more than 1,000 individuals purchasing the coverage since it became available last fall.

The trustees relief committee considered 95 relief requests. They approved 20 two-year monthly grants, 2 three-month monthly grants, 1 one-year monthly grant, 20 two-year expense grants and 1 seven-month expense grant. Thirty-nine individuals were declined for being outside guidelines. Thirteen individuals were added to the Adopt An Annuitant roll. Trustees also approved 66 recipients added to the Adopt An Annuitant roll during the first and second quarters of the year.

Trustees welcomed nine new trustees elected during the SBC annual meeting in New Orleans: Ollie Allred, New Mexico; Robert Benson, Missouri; Randy Chestnut, Ohio; Bill Delk, Georgia; Ronnie Floyd, Arkansas; Phil Koos, Pennsylvania-South Jersey; John McCarty, Michigan; Jerry Vines, Florida; and Danny Watters, Georgia.

The next scheduled meeting of the Annuity Board trustees will be Nov. 5-6 in Dallas.

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  • Curtis D. Sharp