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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.