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 Thrivent Financial for Lutherans February 01, 2014

Thrivent Financial for Lutherans is improving lives, combining expertise in financial planning with the values of faith, family, stewardship, and service to help families and communities achieve security and peace of mind for the future.

By Sara Browning

     Blending financial proficiency with faith-based values and services, Thrivent Financial is celebrating a century of strength and stability. But the not-for-profit is more than a Fortune 500 financial services organization who earned the highest ratings from AM Best as well as an award for one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies, Thrivent Financial has distinguished itself as the nation’s largest fraternal benefit society with nearly 2.5 million members.
     Fraternal Benefit Societies, composed of individuals with common religious, occupational, or ethnic ties, have existed since the beginning of the 20th century when life insurance was usually unaffordable. In the face of tragedy, fraternal benefit society members would rally to the aid of those in their community in need.
     At Thrivent Financial, fraternal benefit society members, like-minded Christians belonging to self-governing “chapters,” are the organization’s owners. As a membership-owned organization, Thrivent Financial looks out for the well-being of its members, assisting them in connecting with one another, and helping them invest in their communities and congregations.
     “Our shared values and services set us apart,” says Tim Ippel, CLU, ChFC, CFP, a financial planner with Thrivent Financial for Lutherans for 13 years. “We are one of the only companies in the local area that ties faith, finance, and generosity into our services. The idea is to change lives and build stronger families and communities.”

Building a Heritage
     The desire to help others took root in the early 20th century when two groups, the German Lutherans in Appleton, Wisconsin, and Norwegian Lutherans in Minneapolis, Minnesota each started a fraternal benefit society to provide Lutherans a way to protect their families with life insurance. In June 2001, the two fraternal benefit societies, Aid Association for Lutherans (AAL) and Lutheran Brotherhood (LB), merged and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans was born.
     With a combined 185-year history of AAL and LB, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans encompasses a rich heritage, giving it the resources needed to impact the lives of its members and the faith-based communities it serves. “In 2013, Thrivent Financial members decided to extend their community support to Christians as well as Lutherans,” according to Tim, who adds: “We are now open to serving all individuals of the Christian faith.”

Fulfilling a Mission
     Thrivent Financial strengthens Christian communities by encouraging members to be good stewards of their finances and inspiring members to give generously. “We succeed when our members and their communities thrive,” explains Tim. “We guard our relationships with trustworthiness, character, and competence. Our mission is to help our members and their communities lead lives that are balanced and generous.”
     Thrivent Financial carries out its mission through its members, working through them to benefit families and communities. “Being a tax-exempt organization allows this money to be placed back into our communities,” explains Tim. “We have private choice dollars that allow our members to direct money to their church or school and nonprofit organizations. The Springfield community received $136,515 in 2012/2013 choice dollars directed by its members. An additional $24,000 was distributed by the local Christian/Sangamon Chapter.”
     Programs and community outreach efforts in which Thrivent Financial is involved include the Lutheran Grant Program, Charitable Giving Initiative, Churchwide Grant Program, Endeavors Grant Initiative, and Corporate Community Grants. Additionally, the Thrivent Federal Credit Union provides a broad range of products and services designed for profit and nonprofit entities.

Success in Financial Planning
     Thrivent Financial combines its belief in helping others with its ability to offer sound financial advice. Regardless of an individual’s financial goals, Thrivent Financial representatives have the expertise and experience to assist clients with developing strategies for financial planning. Whether looking toward retirement, creating an estate strategy, purchasing a new car, buying a home, saving for children’s college education, beginning to invest, or simply learning some general information regarding the best way to save and manage money, Thrivent representatives know the best method for meeting each client’s needs.
     Says Tim: “We help our clients set goals for the future so they know they are secure financially no matter what might happen. Our financial planning services include making certain our clients have the type of insurance to fit their needs and helping them make wise investments to benefit themselves and their communities.”
     Saving for retirement is an important first step in securing a healthy financial future. By helping clients visualize the type of retirement they desire and making a list of their financial goals, representatives can work with clients to begin saving early, saving regularly, and making saving for retirement a priority.
     “In the retirement phase, we like to make certain we have adequate, guaranteed resources so our clients never run out of money,” explains Tim. “We also work with clients to invest for their retirement and during their retirement.”
     An annuity can be a valuable part of a person’s retirement plan. When clients purchase an annuity from Thrivent Financial, Thrivent repays the client’s money plus the interest it earns either in a lump sum or over a period of time the client selects. Thrivent Financial offers deferred fixed annuities, immediate fixed annuities, variable annuities, immediate variable annuities, and death claims. “Annuities can take the guesswork out of planning for the future,” Tim says. “Deferred annuities offer tax-deferred growth and can provide a predictable source of income. Immediate annuities offer a predictable source of income immediately. Some annuities even provide payments for life, so you can’t outlive your income. Annuities also provide a death benefit for your loved ones. We recommend different types of annuities based on each client’s needs and financial goals.”
In addition to annuities, planning for retirement also involves making certain clients have the life insurance and long-term care insurance needed for the future. Thrivent Financial offers several varieties of life insurance, including whole life, term life, whole life plus term protection, universal life, and variable universal life.
“Life insurance is the cornerstone of a sound financial strategy,” according to Tim. “We make sure our clients choose the life insurance that is right for them so they can provide for their families and the organizations they care about. Choosing the right life insurance helps ensure loved ones can remain in their home, attend the same schools and save for retirement and also guarantees peace of mind for the future.”
     Long-term care insurance helps individuals pay for the care they may need in the comfort of their own home or facility. “Long-term care services are usually not covered by health or disability income insurance or by Medicare, except under special circumstances. Long-term care insurance gives clients—and their family members—security.”
     Thrivent Financial also offers Medicare supplement insurance and disability income insurance. Services also include mutual funds and investments, which are helpful for clients starting to save for a new home, setting up their child’s college education fund, or building their retirement savings. Thrivent Financial collaborates with Thrivent Investment Management, Inc. to offer clients a wide variety of options to help them achieve their financial goals.
     Educational workshops for Thrivent Financial clients help individuals understand their financial situation and the steps they can take to meet their goals. Free workshops led by local Thrivent Financial representatives cover various financial aspects, some of which include understanding investments, planning for retirement, and preparing finances for marriage. Workshops offer clients tips on several topics encompassing identify theft, retirement, teaching children how to save finances wisely, changing jobs, and other life events.
     “We encourage our clients to ask themselves: ‘What one thing can I do today to improve my financial situation?’” says Tim. “Thrivent Financial offers Do One Thing Differently resources to encourage our clients to take action.”   

Customizing Financial Solutions
     Developing a relationship with clients is important when establishing their objectives and concerns, according to Tim. “We get to know our clients and customize a plan that addresses their concerns. Once we understand their objectives, we develop a financial plan based on the information they provide. Next, we strategize and come up with different options. We then implement the plan and conduct an annual review with our clients in order to make any necessary adjustments.”
     Financial plans are tailored to fit each client’s specific set of circumstances. “Each client is unique. For example, we consider their goals and assets, whether or not they have a pension, an IRA, or deferred compensation. We customize our services to fit each individual.”
     Unique to Tim’s position as a Certified Financial Planner is the fact that as a fiduciary he may recommend products that Thrivent Financial does not sell. “My job is to act in the client’s best interest. I may recommend products such as checking or savings accounts or liability coverage, if I believe it is the best product that will meet my client’s needs. We tell those we serve: Be wise with your finances. Live generously. By doing this, they will always have money to help themselves and their communities thrive.”

     For more information on Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, visit www.thrivent.com or contact 800-847-4836 or 217-787-1877. See Tim Ippel at the Springfield office located at 983 Clock Tower Drive, Ste. C.

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 Thrivent Financial for Lutherans| February 01, 2014
Keywords:  Feature Story

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