2021
Nonprofit DC

The Anglican Church in North America

FINALIST
Alan Hawkins
Chief Operating Officer
  • Plan(s)
    403(b)
  • Total Plan Assets
    $51.2MM
  • Number of Participants
    533
  • Participation Rate
    84%
  • Average Deferral Rate
    12%
  • Default Investment
    MFS Lifetime Funds Class R4
  • Automatic Enrollment
    No
  • Automatic Escalation
  • Employer Contribution
    Varies by individual church/ministry
  • Provider(s)
    Recordkeeper: Empower Retirement; Adviser: CAPTRUST
  • Financial Wellness Educators(s)
    Empower Retirement, CAPTRUST

For the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), streamlining into one 403(b) plan has brought major benefits.

“Before the consolidation, the ACNA retirement program incorporated two separate retirement plans, with separate recordkeepers administering each plan,” Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Kirk Patterson recalls. “In addition to being operationally inefficient and difficult to administer from a compliance perspective, the program was expensive for plan participants.”

The consolidation took place in late 2015, when the plan’s assets totaled approximately $20 million. Six years later, thanks in part to an effort to recruit more participants, total assets have grown to $51.2 million. During the consolidation planning, ACNA, whose offices are in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, did a request for proposals (RFP). It decided to go with MassMutual—now Empower Retirement—as the sole recordkeeper, because of a combination of reasonable fees, better-performing investment offerings, and the participant services. As a result of the change, recordkeeping and administrative fees have dropped by 52%.

Additionally, the percentage of plan assets invested in the default target-date fund (TDF) investments, the MFS Lifetime Funds, has reached 70%. Prior to streamlining, each retirement plan had its own investment menu. Now, the consolidated plan has fewer than 20 options, with an emphasis on investments that have limited volatility. “We’re dealing with people’s retirement, and we wanted things that will be a little bit more resilient in market fluctuations,” says ACNA Chief Operating Officer (COO) Alan Hawkins.

ACNA also has completely outsourced plan administrative transactions such as withdrawals, beneficiary designations and contribution remittances, to Empower and the plan’s third-party administrator (TPA) ADMIN Partners LLC. “The ability to handle these transactions from a wide variety of participating churches across the country was critical, as ACNA didn’t have the staffing to handle these transactions in-house,” Patterson says.

Consolidating to a single recordkeeper and a single plan adviser, Cammack Retirement Group (which has since become part of CAPTRUST), also made the plan easier for participants to use, Hawkins says. “If they have questions, they can call Empower or our plan adviser and get answers. The level of customer service for participants has greatly improved.”

And the plan has seen a growth spurt in the past year, since ACNA made a coordinated effort to recruit more member churches to participate in the plan. “In early 2020, we started a new communications initiative: Every month we send an email blast out to all of the participating congregations in the plan, and the ACNA congregations that aren’t yet participating,” Patterson says. The email updates them on what’s currently happening with the plan.

The number of participating ACNA churches grew by almost 40% last year. “We’re aggressively starting new congregations[—there are nearly 1,000 now—]and we’re encouraging all new leaders who start churches to enroll in the plan, even in their early days,” Patterson says. “Most people who start congregations are in their 30s, and they may not be thinking about their retirement, but it’s a good time to get started saving for it. Part of congregational leadership is learning to think long term, and that includes thinking about their own retirement.”

Judy Ward

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