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GUIDESTONE: Patient investors buoyed by market gains, … more news

DALLAS (BP)–Despite turbulent financial markets in 2008 and early 2009, steady investing and an improving market have yielded significant gains to average account balances in GuideStone Financial Resources’ 403(b) retirement plans from the markets’ lows in March until the end of November, GuideStone Chief Operating Officer John R. Jones has noted.

Although markets remain down about 25 percent from the highs of late 2007 as of the second quarter of this year, 403(b) assets as a whole began to experience notable growth from the recent upswing in the stock market, he said in a statement released by the Southern Baptist entity Dec. 14. GuideStone participants saw average account balances grow more than 40 percent from March 9 through November, Jones said.

“What we have witnessed in the last three quarters of 2009 is the power of market growth with continued contributions,” Jones said.

Investors who maintained their asset allocation and continued making regular contributions during the recent downturn were able to capitalize during market low points by purchasing shares at decreased prices, he said. Consequently, as the market conditions improved and the shares increased in value, investors witnessed substantial growth in their accounts — an investment technique commonly referred to as “dollar cost averaging.”

Using this process would be a good way for those who have been sitting on the sidelines to get back into the market, Jones suggested.

“Our perspective should be on the long term, not on making emotional short-term changes each and every time the market drops or rises,” Jones said. “For long-term retirement investors, the best course of action — in good times and bad — is to focus on long-term goals and make steady contributions to a portfolio that is invested based on the investor’s age and risk tolerance.”

Jones pointed investors to GuideStone resources that include:

— Participant account statements with personalized charts that can show the participant’s projected future account value and estimated retirement income based on current contributions. It also provides a snapshot of a participant’s asset allocation. Participants can access their statements by logging into their account at www.MyGuideStone.org and selecting the View and Print eStatements link.

— GPS: Guided Planning Services, an online tool made available to participants via MyGuideStone. The service offers to help participants identify gaps in their retirement planning and to advise them on how to reallocate funds to stay on track.

— The MyDestination Funds family of “date target” funds that allow investors to choose a fund that correlates to the year closest to their anticipated retirement date. These funds seek an age-appropriate blend of equity and fixed-income investments that grow more conservative as participants move toward and through retirement.

“These are historic times in our economy,” Jones said. “Even as we see improvements in the stock and bond markets, unemployment remains high and uncertainty is still a part of the equation. As we press forward in this new economy, we at GuideStone continue to focus our perspective on our Lord and on serving those who serve Him.”

P&C PLANNING TOOL AVAILABLE — The GuideStone Property and Casualty Program has released a free online tool, the Ministry Protection Plan, to walk participants through the process of developing a comprehensive risk management plan.

GuideStone Agency Services, an affiliate of GuideStone Financial Resources, is providing the tool to help churches develop a plan customized for their unique ministry needs and tolerance to risk.

“It’s important for ministries to be proactive about risk management,” said Bron Caddell, senior manager of sales for the GuideStone Property and Casualty Program. “Southern Baptist churches rarely expect an accident or an accusation of wrongdoing. By implementing a church risk management plan and adequate church P&C coverages before they’re needed, churches can minimize any disruptions to their ministry when the unexpected does occur.”

Church risk management is an important part of GuideStone’s service to enhance the financial security of SBC ministries and by extension, their staff, Caddell said. By educating ministries about the risks they face and providing tools to help them minimize those risks, GuideStone seeks to help churches protect their ministries both now and in the future.

“Being a Southern Baptist church,” said Paul Garcia, pastor of Bobtown Road Baptist Church in Garland Texas, “we wanted to go with someone that understood our needs.” Garcia noted that GuideStone analyzed the church’s current coverages and found certain areas where it was over- and underinsured. Once the contract was finalized, Garcia said GuideStone’s understanding of the church world allowed Bobtown Road to “reduce our insurance rates on both property & casualty and worker’s comp insurance.”

GuideStone’s Ministry Protection Plan is supported by My Risk Management Plan, a Web-based software program intended to help nonprofit leaders develop customized risk management plans for their organizations. The GuideStone Property and Casualty Program is providing the My Risk Management Plan custom edition specifically for SBC churches and ministries.

To learn more about the GuideStone Property and Casualty Program and the new Ministry Protection Plan tool, call 1-877-455-GSPC (1-877-455-4772) or visit http://www.GuideStonePropertyCasualty.org.

DOUG DAY TO RETIRE — Douglas D. Day, GuideStone’s executive officer for insurance solutions and services, has announced his retirement effective Dec. 31.

“Twenty-four years of service through GuideStone,” Day said, “has been a memorable journey filled with people and opportunities that I will never forget…. Working with churches and institutions across the SBC has enhanced my life, and the staff at GuideStone have become part of my family.”

GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said Day “has exemplified the spirit of our motto, ‘serving those who serve the Lord.’ His heartfelt concern for ministers and their families has permeated every hour of his ministry.”

Day joined the staff of GuideStone (formerly the Annuity Board) in August 1986 as a marketing manager, subsequently serving in numerous capacities in relationship management as well as insurance operations and insurance product development.

John R. Jones, executive vice president and chief operating officer of GuideStone, said Day’s “leadership and insights into the needs of Southern Baptist ministers and denominational employees has enabled multitudes to enjoy a sense of security that frees them to continue to minister.”

Prior to joining GuideStone, Day worked with the Baptist General Convention of Texas and, earlier, he managed an SBC project called Video Tape Service. He holds a B.S. from the University of Tennessee and did graduate studies at Mississippi State University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Memphis State Law School. He also is a certified financial planner.

Day and has wife Jean have two children, a son and a daughter, and two grandchildren.
Compiled from reports by Brock Anderson and Katie Aragon, GuideStone marketing development writers, and Curtis D. Sharp, executive officer for denominational and public relations services.

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