Tomorrow Newsletter 2nd Quarter 2016

Dear Friend,

At MMBB Financial Services we understand that the goal of our ministry is to partner with you while providing the tools that help you become better stewards of your financial resources and create financial wellness at every stage of your life now and into retirement. We are committed to providing our best service whether you contact us by phone, online or in person. This means offering you access to the full range of data that keeps you informed while providing a secure environment. In today’s mobile-connected world that requires technology that is best-in-class. I am pleased to announce that over the next eighteen months we will unveil Ariel, a state-of-the-art Windows based administrative platform designed to give you an enhanced experience and increase our capacity to offer superior customer service.

In this issue of Tomorrow, I invite you to learn more about this innovative platform in the article “Our New Technology Solution: Enhances Service, Increases Efficiencies and Reduces Cyber Risk.”

As members near retirement in this period of considerable volatility our financial planning team is frequently asked how members can protect their portfolio and their earnings. Colin Nass, our Senior Wealth Manager, provides guidance on this issue, offering five things to consider as you prepare for retirement and encourages you to contact one of our Certified Financial Planning™ professionals who are available to assist as a benefit of your MMBB membership.

In the second of our three-part series “Caring for Your Aging Parents” we help you think through various types of advice you may need to access and suggest resources that can support your goal to provide the best care for the older adults in your life.

Giving is at the core of the gospel yet, many pastors face the dilemma of helping their congregations to become more generous. Margaret Marcuson discusses the importance of speaking about personal finance and helping people to cope with debt as one of five ways pastors can to foster a culture of generosity.

Change is the one constant that has remained unchanged since the beginning of time. But, change must be balanced with careful timing, cost efficiency and a keen eye on the future. As we work to serve you more effectively, we are making the changes that we believe strengthen our ministry. It is our pleasure to serve you as you serve the Lord.

Wishing you the blessings of a relaxing summer.

Sincerely,

Louis P. Barbarin, CPA
Chief Executive Officer

By Margaret J. Marcuson
Do you want people in your church to be more generous? Here are five ways to work on it.

  1. Start with yourself.
    Becoming a more generous person doesn’t guarantee your people will follow, but it’s much easier to lead people where you are willing to go yourself. Rev. Carol McVetty, co-pastor of North Shore Baptist Church in Chicago, talks about her own experience watching the generosity of her parents and learning from that. She says her experience is, “It really is the most joyful thing. There are not many things that can give you a bigger kick than giving money to a church or a cause you believed in.”

    Whatever your history, ask yourself, “What are the many ways I can become more generous?” Consider:
    • Increasing your giving by 1% of your income.
    • For one week, giving a small amount to everyone who asks you.
    • Giving to a new ministry in an area that you are passionate about.
  2. Thank givers regularly.
    We ask people to express their gratitude for what God has given them by giving of their resources. In return, let’s offer our thanks to them for their giving. It’s the right thing to do, and in addition, it encourages them to keep giving.

    Try one of these, in ascending order of effectiveness:
    • Verbally thank givers from the pulpit
    • Include a statement of thanks on the quarterly reports
    • Send out a form thank you letter
    • Send a personal thank you letter
    • Best of all, send a handwritten thank you. Today a handwritten note gets people’s attention.

      Remember, all the other places your members give send thank you letters. People who feel appreciated are more inclined to give. As you say thank you, in whatever way you choose, take a moment to experience your gratitude to those who give.
  3. Celebrate the resources you have.
    It’s easy to get into a mentality of scarcity. However, even if you have a big budget gap, you still have money coming into your church every week and every month. In addition, you benefit every day from the givers of the past who helped found the church, build the building, and develop the ministry into what it is today. An attitude of celebration will create more of a climate for generosity than a frantic sense that there isn’t enough.

    When you ask people to give out of celebration, and you are celebratory yourself, it creates a different kind of atmosphere. You’ll enjoy it more. I find it helpful to keep a global and historic perspective.

    Carol McVetty notes that the Karen refugees who have come to their congregation are the most generous, almost climbing over each other to get to the offering plate. “That shows where they are spiritually, rather than where they are financially,” she says.
  4. Address personal finance.
    Rev. Don Ng says at First Chinese Baptist Church in San Francisco, they shifted the traditional Chinese New Year greeting from, “May you have prosperity and wealth in the New Year” to “In the New Year, may you find fulfillment.” They wanted to help people move beyond the focus on wealth and possessions.

    People will find it hard to give generously if they haven’t figured out how to manage their family finances. Many people are drowning in debt, both credit card debt (now over $900 billion nationally) and educational debt (now up to $1.3 trillion).


    Do this in a way that helps people extend grace to themselves. The power of shame around past financial decisions is enormous. Helping our people let go of the past and move forward with compassion and hope for the future is a huge contribution to their lives.

    Carol McVetty says she heard a phrase years ago, the demon of “yaneedmore.” In preaching and teaching, she talks about the way we can be liberated in Christ from the demon of always wanting more, and we will be more at peace and more happy. She and her co-pastor (and husband) Rev. Doug Harris also brought in a financial planner to teach classes on money management, saving and getting out of debt. She says, “It was a time in ministry I felt we had been more helpful to our people than any other time.”
  5. Share the story of the ministry, and ask people to support it.
    What inspires people to be generous? Stories of lives touched, and a vision for the future. Paint a picture, both of what your church has done, and what your dreams for ministry are. Stories connect with people’s hearts and motivate them to give.


    Don Ng says, “The minister’s job is to tell stories of God working in the world that actually talk about transformation and conversion. That’s what causes people to believe that when we give, we are giving to see life being transformed.”

    At North Shore Baptist Church, almost every week, at the call for the offering they mention one aspect of ministry that giving supports, often something that may be nearly invisible. The pastors say things like: “You may not know this, but there are homeless people who come for lunches and showers three times a week. That ministry is made possible by your gifts.”

    Preachers are storytellers. Use your gifts to tell the story of your ministry and unapologetically ask people to be generous in support of it.

    Finally, as you work toward greater generosity in yourself and your people, celebrate every sign of progress: a more generous heart in yourself, a system for thanking people, a spirit of celebration of resources, people taking responsibility for their own finances, and the story of your church’s ministry taking root in the hearts of your people, little by little.

Margaret Marcuson helps clergy and churches energize their ministry and fund their vision. She speaks and writes on leadership and works with faith leaders nationally as a consultant and coach. An American Baptist minister, she was the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Gardner, Massachusetts for 13 years. Get the free mini-course “Six Shifts to Sustain Your Ministry.” at http://www.margaretmarcuson.com.

We are excited to announce that MMBB Financial Services has partnered with Morneau Shepell to implement the Ariel online Financial and Retirement/Benefits solutions. These innovative solutions will enhance MMBB’s ability to provide state of the art financial services, increase operational efficiencies and reduce cyber risk. Morneau Shepell has been a leading North American provider of human resources consulting and administration services for nearly 50 years. They are recognized as a leader in providing innovative employee retirement and benefits solutions. Morneau Shepell provides services to hundreds of North American clients through various service models, ranging from software as a service (SaaS) to full outsourcing of employee retirement, savings and benefits plans.

With the implementation of the Ariel technology solutions from Morneau Shepell we will be positioned to provide a superior experience for MMBB plan members. This includes enhancing employer online capabilities, delivering a flexible, modern, and efficient platform for administrators, streamlining processes, ensuring that data exchanges are seamless, and providing members with online plan management, all of which will allow MMBB to continue to expand our services.

There are five components that make up the Ariel technology solutions that will be introduced over the next 18 months. The components are (1) the Business Development and Marketing Portal, (2) the Online Adoption Portal, (3) the MMBB Administrative Portal (4) the Employer Portal and (5) the Member Portal.

Portal 1, the Business and Development and Marketing Portal was launched on June 1, 2016. This portal is the new business and marketing tool for potential MMBB members and employers. It is a public site that will also have links to our primary website, https://www.mmbb.org and will also stand alone as a microsite, (a website distinct and separate from our primary website with content specifically created for potential employers) https://plans.mmbb.org/. This self-service portal will allow potential members and employers to research MMBB and learn more about our plans and services.

Portal 2, the Online Adoption Portal is scheduled to launch mid-August 2016. This portal is designed for employers to sign up for MMBB benefits plans. It will be a private microsite that will require a password for access. The online plan adoption process may be self-service or assisted by an MMBB representative if a potential employer requires assistance. This process will provide many with electronic signature capabilities and pre-qualification processes online that will reduce the enrollment time for employers, allowing them to offer MMBB plans and services to their eligible employees faster than ever. Look for more information on Portal 2 in our next edition.

Portal 3, the MMBB Administrative Portal, will launch in 2017 along with Portals 4 and 5. This portal will allow MMBB service and benefits specialists and other administrators to seamlessly work with the Employer or Member in a high touch service model that will allow us to view their screens and immediately assist as necessary.

Portal 4, the Employer Portal will provide MMBB plan employers with numerous capabilities such as: the ability to add new participants one at a time or in bulk and manage eligibility automatically; online billing, invoicing, and tracking of contributions; and, the ability to track the status of contracts and prospects from the microsite through to the end of the onboarding process.

Portal 5, the Member Portal will allow our plan members to access plan details, enroll online, designate beneficiaries and dependents, and use retirement planning tools. All of these features will be available on a single website for employees with a single login and password.

With the complete implementation of the Ariel technology solutions MMBB will have a central location from which to manage the delivery and receipt of all information related to our plans. This technology solution will provide potential employers with the information they need 24/7 to make decisions regarding our benefits plans. Potential employers will be able to sign up for MMBB benefits plans when and where it is convenient for them. Employers and plan members will be able to perform administrative tasks and access information quickly and easily online. The Ariel technology solutions provide MMBB Financial Services the ability to be a premier provider of retirement benefits plans, making the process more efficient for employers, members and MMBB staff. We encourage you to visit the microsite at https://plans.mmbb.org to explore the initial phase of this exciting new technology.

By Colin Nass, CFP®, RICP®
Senior Wealth Manager

The first half of 2016 has been a turbulent ride for investors who have any exposure to the US stock market, such as many MMBB members. The recent US stock market volatility has returned to levels unseen in many years.

History has shown that stock market volatility is inevitable. Since 1900, the S&P 500 Index has seen 35 dips of 10% or more. The average recovery time has been 10 months. Bear in mind that MMBB investors in the Balanced Fund and the New Horizons Fund are well diversified and so will generally experience less volatility than members who are solely invested in of one our equity-only options (US Equity Index Fund, US Blended Equity Fund and/or the Social Awareness Fund).

Here are five things to consider as you plan for your approaching retirement in this period of market volatility:

  1. Create a realistic budget.
    To create a realistic budget, you will need to understand the difference between discretionary vs non-discretionary expenses. Discretionary expenses are recurring or non-recurring expenses for goods or services that are non-essential. For example vacations, movie tickets, and restaurants are considered discretionary expenses. Non-discretionary expenses are basic living expenses and are usually fixed amounts. Rent or mortgage, utilities, and basic food are considered non-discretionary expenses. You should aim to have guaranteed income sources (e.g. Social Security, pensions, annuities, fixed income ladders made up of individual bonds) to cover at least your non-discretionary expenses.

    If there is a gap or a difference between your guaranteed income and what you determine you need to live on, you may want to work with a financial planner to develop a 5 year plan to cover the gap. This plan may include increasing savings, reducing spending or a combination of both.
  2. Establish an emergency fund.
    One of the largest risks retirees will face is determining whether they will need to liquidate assets when the markets have sold off significantly. This risk is called ‘sequence of returns’ risk. Sequence of returns risk is a market volatility issue surrounding the order in which returns on your investments occur. There are several sources of funding that can help you avoid this risk. Setting up a cash buffer to help avoid selling during a down market can reduce this risk.


    One solution is to set aside 6-12 months in expenses in an emergency fund. If you are a homeowner, another solution to consider is setting up a reverse mortgage in the form of a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) line of credit. This line of credit can provide retirement income that can be tapped when markets drop, avoiding the need to sell equities when they are down.


    Another source of funding and a complement to your emergency fund is borrowing the cash value in your whole life insurance policy. Taking a temporary loan from your cash value is not a taxable event and can be repaid once markets recover.
  3. Avoid Market Timing and Changing Your Allocation in Reaction to Market Swings.
    Studies have shown that market volatility is the main catalyst behind a lot of bad financial behaviors – most specifically – buying high and selling low. Attempting to move in and out of the market can be costly for investors, especially those in or near retirement.

    Market declines and corrections are normal and your plan should assume that they will happen from time to time. One way to minimize harmful financial behavior is to work with a financial planner to develop a plan and stick to the plan. All members have access to MMBB’s Certified Financial Planners™ as part of their membership. There are no additional costs for this valuable resource.
  4. Review your Retirement Income Plan.
    As part of your plan, you must decide in advance how you will adjust withdrawals in retirement when markets are down.


    As mentioned earlier, sequence of returns risk poses significant danger to retirees. If you are forced to sell stocks during a market downturn early in retirement, you will lock in lower returns which can negatively impact the longevity of your investment portfolio. The risk of outliving your retirement assets is magnified when negative returns occur in early years, especially considering today’s increased life expectancies.


    However, the MMBB annuity provides lifetime monthly income for you and, if you select a joint annuity option, your spouse or designated beneficiary in the event of your death. The annuity includes downside protection to mitigate the impact of a sharp market drop. During periods of economic decline, your annuity will not decrease more than 5% in the first year of a market downturn and will not decrease more than 10% in the second or subsequent years of market declines. This provides an increased measure of security and peace of mind even when the markets experience tremendous volatility.
  5. Good Housekeeping.
    Keeping track of your personal information is always a good idea. As you approach retirement there are many things to consider such as healthcare options, estate planning and social security benefits.


    Understanding your healthcare options and their related expenses in retirement is critical. Contrary to popular belief, Medicare does not cover all expenses. Some of the items or services that Medicare does not cover include cost of long term care, most dental care, eye exams, dentures, hearing aids and routine foot care.

    You may want to consider purchasing Medicare Supplement Insurance (also known as Medigap). The coverage is sold by private insurance companies to help pay for some of the healthcare costs that Medicare does not cover including co-payments, coinsurance and deductibles. Long term care insurance is another consideration. Long-term care insurance was developed specifically to cover the costs of nursing homes, assisted living, home health care and other long-term care services.


    Review your estate plan including beneficiaries, trustees and executors. Your estate plan should include information such as your will, perhaps a trust, health care directives, financial power of attorney, life insurance and funeral arrangements. Most estate plans are set up with the help of an attorney experienced in estate law in your state.

This is also a good time to double check your Social Security benefits. The Social Security Administration website, http://www.ssa.gov, contains a wealth of information for both workers and retirees. For those nearing retirement, the creation of a My Social Security online account allows workers to view their taxes paid and get a personalized estimate of their monthly payments at various claiming ages.

For most of us, retirement represents a significant change in our lives and may present numerous challenges if we aren’t prepared. Creating a financial plan and working with a financial planner is one way to navigate the retirement maze and help filter the overwhelming amount of financial noise surrounding us every day. Take the first step and contact an MMBB Certified Financial Planner™ professional at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call 800-986-6222.

In part one of this series, MMBB Financial Services recommended starting the conversation with your parents early and provided initial steps to begin to plan ahead. Part two provides resources for the type of advice and support you may need. The final article in this series will discuss financial implications that need to be considered and provide a helpful checklist that gives an overview of the information and services to consider. Caring for your parents can be a sensitive issue, MMBB strives to offer the tools you need for support.

What kind of advice will you need?

Housing and health care advice

If your parents are like many older individuals, where they live will depend upon how healthy they are. As your parents grow older, their health may deteriorate so much that they can no longer live on their own. At this point, you may need to find them in-home health care or health care within a retirement community or nursing home. On the other hand, you may want them to move in with you. In addition, you will need information on managing the cost of health care, long-term care insurance, major medical insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Contact:

  • National Association for Home Care
  • Visiting Nurse Associations of America
  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (formerly known as the Health Care Financing Administration)
  • American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging
  • American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)
  • Health Insurance Association of America

Financial advice

If your parents need help managing their finances, you may need to contact professionals whose advice both you and your parents can trust, including one or more of the following individuals or organizations.

Contact:

  • Your financial planner
  • Your banker
  • Your investment counselor
  • Your attorney
  • The Social Security Administration

Legal advice

Legal advisors can help you plan for your parents’ incapacity (including preparing documents such as power of attorneys, medical directives, and living wills), contact nursing home ombudsmen, set up and monitor guardianship, prepare wills, give tax advice, and provide bill payment and representative payee assistance. Many states provide funds for the delivery of free legal services to the elderly and many attorneys specialize in elder law, so finding legal advice shouldn’t be difficult.

Contact:

  • Your attorney
  • National Association of State Units on Aging
  • American Bar Commission on the Legal Problems of the Elderly
  • Legal Counsel for the Elderly

What kinds of support and community services will you need?

Caring for your aging parents will be easier if you know what kinds of support and community services are available and where to locate them. The following is a list of the kinds of support and community services you can find locally and nationally, along with specific suggestions of who to contact for information.

Adult day care

If you need to work or run errands and you can’t leave your parents alone, consider using adult day care. These programs are located in hospitals, churches, temples, nursing homes, or community centers. Many are private nonprofit organizations. Adult day care can be expensive but is sometimes subsidized by the government, and fees may be based on a sliding scale. In addition, Medicare, Medicaid, long-term care insurance, or your health insurance may pay part of the cost.

Contact:

  • Your local senior center or community center
  • National Institute on Adult Day Care
  • The Alzheimer’s Association

Caregiver support groups (self-help)

Many self-help groups are available to provide information and emotional support on broad topics (such as aging) or specific topics (such as heart disease). You may find these support groups helpful if you know little about caring for your aging parents. Such groups might also provide an opportunity to help others by sharing your experiences.

Contact:

  • The Alzheimer’s Association
  • Children of Aging Parents
  • National Self-Help Clearinghouse

Caregiver training/health education

You may feel better about taking care of your parents if you are armed with knowledge. You may want to complete first-aid courses or take classes in gerontology.

Contact:

  • Your local college or university
  • Your local hospital
  • The American Red Cross

Geriatric assessment

If you are uncertain of your parent’s mental or physical capabilities, ask his or her doctor to recommend somewhere you can take your parent to undergo an assessment. These assessments can be done at hospitals or clinics. Your parent will be evaluated to determine his or her capabilities. The evaluation determines whether the individual can take care of himself or herself on a day-to-day basis, including such things as bathing, dressing, eating, using the telephone, doing housework, and managing money. Based on this evaluation, you and your parent will receive advice regarding care options.

Contact:

  • Your doctor
  • Your lawyer
  • The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers
  • Aging Network Services

Respite care

When you are caring for your aging parents, you may feel guilty or even resentful because you don’t have limitless energy. Taking care of your parents is hard work, however, and everyone needs a break once in a while. If you are caring for your aging parents, look into respite care. Medicaid may pay for some respite-care services.

Contact:

  • Your doctor
  • Your local hospital
  • The Alzheimer’s Association
  • National Association for Home Care

You are not without help, these resources are offered to assist you in the specific areas that require further exploration. Often the details cause the greatest amount of concern. We hope the topics covered provide a good start to obtaining the answers you need to ensure that you are able to plan for your parents’ future care. If you need more information or any referrals, call Eldercare Locator, a public service of the US Administration on Aging, at 800.677.1116 or visit http://www.eldercare.gov.

It is not entirely surprising to learn that the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) filed a new lawsuit on April 6, 2016 contesting the constitutionality of the ministerial housing allowance under section 107 of the Internal Revenue Code. The lawsuit, Gaylor, et al vs. Lew, et al, was filed in the same federal court in Seventh Circuit of the Western District of Wisconsin which also covers Indiana and Illinois where Judge Barbara Crabb ruled in FFRF’s favor in 2013, declaring the housing allowance unconstitutional. That lawsuit did not include the tax-free use of parsonages.

The court’s decision was overturned by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in November 2014. In that decision, the court ruled that the FFRF plaintiffs did not have standing since they had not attempted to obtain a refund of their housing allowance from the IRS.

After the dismissal of the lawsuit, the FFRF designated a portion of employees’ salaries as housing allowance. The employees pursued a refund of income taxes which had been paid on those amounts, and the IRS denied the refund. Unlike the previous lawsuit, this new lawsuit’s objective is to have both the housing allowance and the tax-free use of parsonages declared unconstitutional.

Because of the court’s initial ruling and the assertions of the new filing, the FFRF has requested “immediate injunctive relief” as well as a declaratory judgment. An injunction would mean a court order to prohibit any further use of the housing allowance and tax-free parsonage. The declaratory judgment is a legal determination by the court that states the court’s authoritative opinion regarding the issue at hand. It is conclusive and legally binding with regards to the present and future rights of the parties involved. The parties would not be able to seek another court resolution of the same legal issue unless they appeal the judgment. By taking this action, the FFRF is asking the court to rule conclusively on the constitutionality of the laws at issue in the case. We will be watching this case very closely and will keep you apprised of any new developments.