DALLAS (BP)–On Aug. 27, AB Funds Trust, a no-load family of mutual funds sponsored by the Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, became operational and functional in the registered investment environment.
“The day has arrived and we are ready to move forward into this new arena,” said O.S. Hawkins, Annuity Board president during a morning celebration at the Dallas-based SBC agency. “This is a historic day in the life of the Annuity Board and I am grateful to our trustees and our staff for their diligence and ‘extra mile’ effort to be ready for this conversion. The implementation of new products and services allows us to serve our participants in additional ways.
“We can now answer ‘ABsolutely!’ to the bivocational pastor who wants to roll over his retirement fund from a secular employer,” Hawkins said, tapping the Annuity Board’s “AB” abbreviation.
“We can now answer ‘ABsolutely!’ to the institutional employee who wants to open an IRA or roll over his retirement account from a previous employer.
“We can now answer ‘ABsolutely!’ to the county seat pastor who receives an inheritance and needs a place he trusts to invest his money in a personal savings account,” Hawkins said.
Speaking before 420 Annuity Board employees and guests, John Jones, the board’s chief operating officer, shared the milestones of this journey.
In October 1997, Hawkins joined the Annuity Board as president with the assignment to “take something great and make it greater.”
Hawkins recast the vision statement to include the charge “to honor the Lord by being a Life Partner(tm) with our participants in enhancing their financial security.”
In November 1999, Annuity Board trustees unanimously approved the proposal for the board to begin the process of establishing a registered investment company.
In February 2000, the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention voted to submit a revised mission statement and new ministry assignment for approval to the 2000 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.
In March 2000, the Annuity Board formed the mutual fund project team to begin the process.
In June 2000, the Southern Baptist Convention approved the revised mission statement and new ministry assignment.
In July 2000, legal documents to establish AB Funds Trust were filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
In April 2001, existing investment funds were restructured and/or renamed to prepare the funds for operation.
In May, new mutual fund board met for the first time.
On July 5, AB Funds Trust officially became effective.
On Aug. 27, final conversion of the investment funds to registered mutual funds occurred and the new products and services were launched.
With the launch of AB Funds Trust, Annuity Board participants and other eligible investors can now open Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and Personal Investment Accounts by purchasing shares of AB Funds Trust through PFPC Distributors, Inc., a registered broker dealer and underwriter of the funds. SBC Trust Services, an affiliate of the Annuity Board, serves as the IRA custodian. SBC Financial Services, Inc., also an Annuity Board affiliate, serves as the investment adviser to the funds.
Eligible investors include participants in all Annuity Board plans, those eligible to participate in Annuity Board plans, annuitants and spouses of all these groups.
“This is a watershed event in the life of the Annuity Board and its participants,” said Roddy Cummins, Annuity Board executive officer and vice president of AB Funds Trust. “Entering a registered environment is a tremendous achievement and one that enhances our products and goals for the benefit of all our participants in the years to come.”
A high point of the event was a presentation by John R. West to Hawkins with a check to open the first Rollover IRA with AB Funds Trust. West is an Annuity Board trustee from Alabama and associate pastor and minister of missions and administration at Lakeview Baptist Church in Auburn.
Ringing the bell to signify the launching of AB Funds Trust, George Tous van Nijkerk, chairman of the Annuity Board trustees from Raleigh, N.C., expressed his appreciation to fellow trustees, the Southern Baptist Convention and the Annuity Board staff.
“This is an incredible day in the life of the Annuity Board as we chart our future course. In the midst of these changes, I am confident our participants can continue to look to us for excellent investment choices and dependable customer service,” Tous van Nijkerk said.
“Starting today, we can truly be a Life Partner(tm) with all our participants,” Hawkins said. “We are not crossing the finish line, but the starting line as we mark the beginning of offering new investment products. Today we become a full-service financial services provider for our participants.”
For more complete information about AB Funds Trust, including charges and expenses, call 1-800-262-0511 to request a prospectus. Annuity Board officials advise that potential investors read it carefully before investing or sending money for the expanded services.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: READY TO GO.