From our President: A retirement savings plan that deserves a look

June 02, 2021

Go to the ant, you lazybones; consider its ways, and be wise. it prepares its food in summer, and gathers its sustenance in harvest.

—Prov 6:6-8

The Proverbs verse holds wisdom for everyone, not just lazybones. No matter how hard we work, we ought to be preparing for when we slow down. Contributing to a retirement savings account is a good way to do that. Employers should provide this tax-advantaged savings opportunity. Ministers and employees should take it.

Every congregation, mid council, and affiliated employer can offer the Retirement Savings Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (RSP) to any minister or employee. No matter how many hours a week an individual works. Could be one hour; could be 40. All are eligible for the 403(b)(9) plan.

When employers start updating their Employer Agreements next month, we hope they will look at the RSP. We have employers who offer only the RSP as well as some who don't offer it at all. Other employers offer it just to their pastors because it's part of the Pastor's Participation benefits package. Why not extend the savings opportunity to the church secretary who works four hours a week?

The RSP has no employer fees. Employee fees are well below the national average — a $3.75 administrative fee deducted quarterly from the account. The Board takes on most of the plan administration. That includes plan design, funds selection, fee negotiation, and investment management oversight.

Employers determine employee eligibility for the RSP. They decide whether to contribute to employee accounts or match contributions. Employer contributions are not required. But ministers and employees, be wise: A matching contribution is free money. If it's offered, don't leave it on the table by not contributing yourself.

The Board partners with Fidelity Investments to offer the RSP. Fidelity is known as a leading provider of retirement plans. Both the Board and Fidelity have dedicated service teams trained in church plans. We provide RSP-specific communications for employers and plan participants. Fidelity houses online educational resources as well as knowledgeable representatives to provide guidance.

Employers can easily add the RSP to their benefits lineup. Just as easily, employees can begin contributing. We all need to be readying for harvest time.

Grace and peace, 

The Reverend Frank Clark Spencer