New investment options approved for Pension Plan members and Foundation clients
New investment options approved for Pension Plan members and Foundation clients
May 21, 2010, Elgin, Ill. — Investments were the focus of the April meeting of Church of the Brethren
Benefit Trust’s Board of Directors in Elgin, Ill. Staff and Board members came together at the Church of
the Brethren General Offices from April 24-25 to discuss the selection of new investment funds, the
move to daily valuations of funds under management, the confirmation of two investment management
firms, and other matters related to BBT’s ministries.
“We have listened to requests from our members and are working with the Board to strengthen the
services and products we offer,” said BBT President Nevin Dulabaum. “We look forward to offering
more investment choices, more frequently updated account values, and stronger fiscal management to
those we serve.”
Expanding Investment Options, Reporting Abilities, and Potential Client Base
At the Board’s November 2009 meeting, five new fund styles were added to the investment guidelines for
Brethren Pension Plan and Brethren Foundation. At the April Board meeting, BBT staff recommended
five funds to offer to members and clients that fit those new investment styles. The Board approved the
funds, which include an emerging markets stock fund through DFA, ING’s global public real estate fund,
a Principal high-yield bond fund, a Vanguard Treasury inflation-protected securities fund, and a
commodities-based fund managed by PIMCO. Brethren Foundation clients will be able to invest in these
new funds in the coming months, as will members of Brethren Pension Plan, once BBT is able to offer
Installing these five mutual funds is the first step in offering members and clients an increased variety
of investment options. The funds will be transitioned to actively managed accounts once clients allocate
sufficient assets to these funds. Mutual funds cannot be monitored using BBT’s socially responsible
investing guidelines; once the funds are actively managed, however, BBT will be able to screen the funds
using its SRI criteria.
“We searched various sectors to try to identify the best mix of funds to offer, and we think these will
give our members and clients more choices for diversifying their assets,” said Jerry Rodeffer, BBT’s chief
The Board also approved the Investment Committee’s recommendation that Brethren Pension Plan’s
Common Stock fund be unbundled into its five components — International, Small Cap, Large Cap Core,
Large Cap Growth, and Mid Cap Value — to provide greater variety of equity offerings for Plan members.
These funds will still comprise the Common Stock Fund, which will still be an allocation option. The
decision to allow these five strategies as individual fund options was discussed and recommended by the
Investment Committee at its November meeting and approved by the Board in April.
In response to the growing needs of BBT’s members and clients, the Board approved an increase in
how often BBT values its funds. While BBT currently values its funds twice monthly, the Board approved
a move to daily valuations. This decision will allow Pension Plan members access to updated account
information through the recently launched Pension Web portal, and will make up-to-date information
available to BFI clients once that ministry’s online presence is established.
As these new investment options and a move to daily valuations will allow Brethren Pension Plan and
Foundation to better serve their members and clients, another decision by the Board could allow
Brethren Foundation to expand its client base. The Board approved the request that BFI be allowed to
serve nonexempt organizations that have values consistent with those of the Church of the Brethren, as
long as those organizations do not make up more than 15 percent of BFI’s annual revenue.
Confirming Two Investment Management Firms — One Old, One New
Based on current investment guidelines, the firm overseeing BBT’s large cap growth equity investments
must exceed the performance of the Russell 1000 Growth index by 1 percent or more and bring in topquartile
returns compared with similar investment managers over a five-year period. New Amsterdam,
the manager of those funds, failed to achieve those goals in its tenure with BBT; the Investment
Committee recommended that the Board dismiss this manager.
After interviewing two investment management firms to replace New Amsterdam, the Investment
Committee recommended to the Board that Segall Bryant & Hamill, a Chicago-based investment adviser
established in 1994, be installed as the large cap growth equity manager for Brethren Pension Plan and
Brethren Foundation. The Board approved both recommendations.
“We believe Segall Bryant & Hamill will help us experience quality performance in our large cap
growth investments,” Jerry said. “They have displayed excellent stock-picking abilities, which will be key
in this current economic climate.”
Additionally, the Investment Committee received a presentation by Agincourt — one of BBT’s two
bond investment managers — reviewing its three-year performance. The Board approved a
recommendation that Agincourt be retained as a manager of those funds based on the firm’s outstanding
investment performance; their portfolios for BBT and BFI beat the benchmark by seven percentage
points in 2009.
Annual Defense Lists Presented
Each year, BBT releases two lists that outline publicly traded companies that have strong business
alliances with the U.S. Department of Defense. Because of BBT’s commitment to making investments
that adhere to Brethren values and Annual Conference directives, actively managed investments in
companies holding the 25 largest Defense contracts and companies that earn more than 10 percent of
their income from Defense contracts are prohibited. These lists can be found at
www.brethrenbenefittrust.org by clicking on Downloads and then Socially Responsible Investing.
“Although our managers are expected to avoid investing in companies that are not in compliance with
BBT’s socially responsible investing guidelines, we go a step further in honoring the Church of the
Brethren’s historic peace stance by producing these lists,” said Steve Mason, coordinator of BBT’s
socially responsible investing activities. “We believe that this is an important connecting point between
the values of our faith community and the work of BBT.”
The Board also reviewed BBT’s 2010 shareholder initiatives, or efforts to effect change as an owner of
stocks in companies. This year, Steve will work with ConocoPhillips to ensure that their work does not
interfere with the rights of indigenous people around the world. He will also pursue talks with Toyota
regarding human rights and labor policies in their global supply chain.
Other Board News
• Auditing firm Legacy Professionals LLP offered the Budget and Audit Review Committee a “clean
opinion” for BBTI and BFI’s 2009 financials — its highest designation.
• The bylaws for Brethren Benefit Trust, Brethren Benefit Trust Inc., and Brethren Foundation Inc.
were updated and approved. The bylaws have been revised to clarify who can serve on each Board
and which organizations have members, and allow for the appointment of a vice-president of each
• BBT staff and Board members addressed an ongoing issue with its custodian and the administration
of BBT’s securities lending portfolio.
• Michael Leiter of Frederick, Md., was elected to serve as a BBT Board member, filling the seat
designated for a representative of the Brethren Retirement Communities. This seat was vacated by
Carol Davis, who resigned from the Board on March 4 after serving two of the four years of her
term. Michael is a member of Glade Valley Church of the Brethren, Walkersville, Md., and serves as
the senior director of marketing and development/retirement community administration at Fahrney-
Keedy Home & Village in Boonsboro, Md.
• The Board and staff reviewed the process for electing three Board members in 2010. In late 2009,
BBT’s Nominating Committee selected four candidates to recommend to the Annual Conference
Nominating Committee, from which two were chosen. One of the following nominees will be elected
to serve on the BBT Board by 2010 Annual Conference delegates in Pittsburgh: Wayne Scott,
Harrisburg, Pa., or John Waggoner, Herndon, Va. Additionally, Karen Crim, who is serving a partial
term representing the denominational agencies, was selected by the agencies as their sole nominee. In
late winter, Karen was elected to serve a second four-year term by members of Brethren Pension
Plan. At the Board’s November meeting, Eunice Culp was chosen to fill the third open seat, which is
elected by the Board itself. The results of these elections will be brought to Annual Conference for
• The BBT Board will meet next on July 7 at the Westin Hotel in Pittsburgh, in connection with 2010
Annual Conference. La Verne, Calif., will be the site of the Board’s fall meeting from Nov. 19 to 20.