The JRB Board of Trustees – Your Retirement Plan Fiduciaries

by Rabbi Michael B. Greenbaum, Ed.D.
Chair, JRB Board of Trustees

As Chair of The Joint Retirement Board of Conservative Judaism Board of Trustees, I – and all of the members of the Board – have accepted a fiduciary responsibility to assist those working within the Conservative Movement achieve their financial goals, particularly a secure retirement.

What does it mean to have a fiduciary responsibility?  The fiduciary standard embodies the core duties of loyalty, due care and good faith.  A fiduciary, as Judge Benjamin Cardozo wrote, “is held to something stricter than the morals of the marketplace.” In other words, we – the Board of Trustees – are singularly focused on providing a retirement plan and investment options that meet the specific needs of those working within the Movement.

It is my privilege and pleasure, as Chair, to lead these efforts.

The 13 members of the JRB Board represent major organizations within the Movement.  The Rabbinical Assembly, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Jewish Theological Seminary and Cantors Assembly each appoint representatives to sit on the Board for three-year terms.  The North American Association of Synagogue Executives and Jewish Educators Assembly participate as observers, also for three-year terms.

Trustees bring a broad range of expertise.  Some are clergy. Some have legal, accounting and finance backgrounds. Many are JRB members and represent the participant’s perspective. All share a long-term commitment to ensure that plan participants – you – can invest in a broad range of investments and access effective financial planning tools.

A big part of our responsibility involves the quarterly review of the investment offerings available to you. The Board’s Investment Review Committee (IRC), one of 9 Board Committees, leads the analysis of our investment options in consultation with Cammack Retirement Group, the JRB’s investment advisor.

An example of how we fulfill this fiduciary responsibility is the Board’s review of the Fidelity Freedom Funds, a family of target date funds (TDFs). To evaluate the Fidelity TDFs, the Committee asked Cammack to compare the Fidelity target date funds with those offered by Vanguard, T. Rowe Price, American Funds and JP Morgan.

After a thorough analysis, Cammack presented its research to the IRC. Cammack found that the Fidelity Freedom Funds best fit the needs of JRB plan participants.  Specifically:

  • Fidelity’s glide path and landing point better reflect the demographics of JRB members.  JRB members tend to work longer before retiring and to remain invested in the JRB throughout their retirement.  Fidelity establishes a longer glide path and keeps a higher percentage of stocks in the portfolio.
  • Fidelity’s active investment approach was seen as an advantage in the fixed income area, particularly during a period of rising interest rates.
  • Fidelity’s TDFs hold more asset classes than many competitors providing greater diversification.

After reviewing the analysis, we determined that the Fidelity TDFs remained the most suitable option for JRB plan participants. As part of our fiduciary responsibility, the Board continues to review the performance of the Fidelity target date funds – as well as all of the investment options the JRB offers.

In addition to our ongoing quarterly review of the JRB’s investment options, the Board monitors legislative and regulatory changes that affect pension and retirement plans. For example, a recent bill was enacted by Congress and signed into law allowing retirement plans to offer higher loan amounts to participants in a federally declared disaster area. In accordance with this new legislation, the Board adopted a provision allowing larger loans to affected participants. This change is part of our effort to make sure that the JRB retirement plan meets your financial needs.

These are just a few of the ways the Board implements our fiduciary responsibility. We pledge to represent your best interest so you can count on the JRB to deliver secure access to the competitive investment options and financial planning tools you need to meet your retirement goals.

We appreciate your feedback on any additional services that the Board or the JRB staff can provide. Please contact the JRB office at (888) JRB-FREE (572-3733) or staff@jrbcj.org with any comments or questions.