Thrivent and our clients strive to weather uncertain times through financial, personal and spiritual resilience.
It started with a promise between members of a Wisconsin church: If one of them should die, their family’s financial needs would be cared for.
One hundred twenty years later, Thrivent has honored many promises and weathered many storms. To name just a few of those storms: two World Wars, the Great Depression, the high interest rates of the 1970s, the tech bubble of the early 2000s, the Financial Crisis of 2007-2008, and most recently a global pandemic.
“We have not wavered in our commitment to clients, no matter the circumstance,” says Thrivent Chief Financial & Investment Officer David Royal. “We know clients rely on us to be there when they need us—whether retirement is around the corner or decades away, whether they’re saving and investing for the near-term or the long-term.”
How Thrivent remains resilient
In 2022, Thrivent’s financial strength and stability were affirmed by AM Best and newly recognized by S&P Global Ratings and Moody's Investors Service.¹ All three are independent ratings agencies. Based on our long-term financial strength and capital position,
How does Thrivent manage our assets to help ensure continued strength and stability?
“We take a long-term view with our investment strategy and maintain a diversified portfolio across public and private asset classes,” Royal says. “Our long-term approach helps us to weather volatile markets and invest for future growth when the markets are down. Our strong surplus level helps Thrivent to have a higher allocation to alternative assets like private equity, where we invest in small- to mid-sized privately owned companies across the U.S. These investments have provided the opportunity to generate historically strong risk-adjusted returns for Thrivent.”
Royal’s approach to managing Thrivent’s assets may sound familiar: It’s similar to the advice you might hear from your Thrivent financial advisor.
Building financial resilience
In 2019, Todd and Kim Marnin had a plan. With a few years left until retirement, they decided to build a new home in Clear Lake, Iowa. After selling their house, but before building the new one, they received shocking news: the manufacturing company where Todd and Kim had spent their careers was closing the local plant. Both of them were losing their jobs.
The Marnins faced a choice: Continue building their retirement home without employment income or pivot to a new plan.
They reached out to their Thrivent financial advisor. Primarily a practice developer for Thrivent, Josh Faaborg of Pathway Wealth Advisors in Belmond, Iowa, ran the numbers for the Marnins. He saw that, thanks to decades of consistent saving, the Marnins had enough financial flexibility to withstand the job loss, build their new home, and remain on-track with their retirement goals.
“We had worked our whole lives, paying into the retirement plan consistently over time,” Todd says. “I wasn’t in the 401k at first, but a veteran employee pulled me aside and explained it to me. He said, ‘They’re matching at 6%, and you’re throwing away money by not taking advantage.’”
Todd and Kim started small and increased their 401k contributions over time, watching the money add up. They never stopped contributing or dipped into their retirement savings. When their son needed several surgeries for a health condition, the Marnins took a home equity loan to cover the medical bills and gradually paid it off.
“There’s always something,” Todd says. “We always saved for a rainy day, and there were plenty of those. But we left the retirement money alone. We wouldn’t be sitting where we are if we had dipped into it earlier.”
They chose to build their new home in 2020.
“It was a gutsy decision,” Todd says. “Everyone warned us that the costs would go over budget, and they did.”
In the midst of a global pandemic, supply chain disruptions and economic uncertainty, the unemployed Marnins watched the market dip into recession as the cost of building materials for their new home skyrocketed. Despite their concerns, the Marnins focused on the positive. Since he wasn’t working, Todd could actively manage the construction project. They loved their new community, where they lived closer to family and resources for their youngest son. And, shortly after moving into their new home, Todd found a new job perfectly aligned with his skills.
“They took a leap of faith,” Faaborg says. “But they were well prepared thanks to the strategy they had in place.”
Faaborg believes that the key to financial resilience is a long-term strategy customized to the individual or family’s unique circumstances and goals. For clients at or near retirement, like the Marnins, that strategy may include having enough cash reserves to ride out a market downturn without having to draw from their retirement savings or investments. His financial advice to deal with changes in the market: work with your financial advisor to evaluate and adapt your own strategy.
“Don’t rely on cookie-cutter advice,” Faaborg says. “Not one financial situation is the same, and your solutions shouldn’t be either.”
He also encourages clients to view market downturns as moments of potential opportunity.
“Too often we get bogged down in what’s not going right and miss the opportunities difficult times present,” Faaborg says. “It may be a great time to re-evaluate and revamp your financial goals and strategy. For my younger clients, these times can be great because we have time working for us. It’s time to take a fresh look at their risk portfolio, savings strategy, allocations and tax efficiency. For more tenured clients, we can go back over the strategy, find those potential small opportunities and make tweaks to help take advantage of the time we’re in.
“History has demonstrated over and over again that the markets and economy are resilient. The only way that works is if we choose to be resilient, too.”
History has demonstrated over and over again that the markets and economy are resilient. The only way that works is if we choose to be resilient, too.
Building resilient communities
Resilience, the ability to adapt to and recover from life’s setbacks, is a powerful skill that extends far beyond finances.
For Rev. Brenda White of Allen AME Church in Baltimore, spiritual resilience begins with community: recognizing that each of us both needs to help and can offer help to one another. White’s congregation is in the Poppleton neighborhood of Baltimore City, one of the most under-invested zip codes in the country, and service is at the heart of their ministry.
“We introduce people to Christ’s love in a tangible way,” she says.
Allen AME, through Pathway Forward, Inc., the church’s nonprofit, organizes supply drives to help provide for their neighbors in need of assistance: school supplies for children, personal hygiene kits and warm winter clothing for people without stable housing. It’s not just about giving, White says, but about providing sustainable ways to help people improve their lives.
In addition to serving hot meals for the hungry, the church planted an organic raised garden and several fruit trees. They offered classes on gardening, cooking and canning. They introduced container gardening as a way people could grow fresh vegetables and herbs in their apartments, since their neighborhood has no viable grocery store. White chose not to put a fence around the church’s garden.
“That’s the risk we take in building community,” she says. “If you need something, take what you need, and remember there’s a neighbor in need.” In two years, she has seen no incidents of theft or damage.
White works hard to mobilize available resources, including using
White maintains an ecumenical perspective and partners with other churches around a shared commitment to service.
“Too often, we are in silos and think it’s just us,” White says. “If we work together across denominations, across faiths, we can truly help people.”
At the heart of White’s service is an unrelenting faith in the grace of God and the ability of people to make a meaningful difference in the world. She grew up in South Carolina and came to Maryland with a one-way bus ticket, $5 and a scholarship that helped her become the first in her family to graduate from college.
“God has been gracious unto me,” White says. “Times have been hard, and times are hard, but I know there is a plan for my life. I experienced segregation and know what it’s like to be separate. I know that God always has people as the antidote.”
God has been gracious unto me. Times have been hard, and times are hard, but I know there is a plan for my life. I experienced segregation and know what it’s like to be separate. I know that God always has people as the antidote.
5 tips for financial resilience
1. Have a financial strategy with a long-term view.
Without a financial strategy in place, it can be tempting to react emotionally to market changes. A long-term strategy anchored to your prioritized goals and values can help keep you steady in tumultuous times.
2. Look for opportunities.
What’s the next best financial choice you can make? Maybe it’s paying down debt or building up your emergency savings fund, or perhaps it’s rebalancing your investment portfolio. Whatever it is, you’ll likely benefit from meeting with a financial advisor to discuss your financial goals and what you might be able to do to strengthen your financial future.
3. Consider diversifying your income.
The rise of remote work and gig apps have opened new opportunities beyond traditional full-time jobs. Many retirees are delaying retirement, working part-time or starting new careers to provide additional income and professional fulfilment.
4. Recognize that nothing lasts forever.
The markets and economy are cyclical, with economic expansions followed by contractions and economic contractions followed by periods of expansion. Take heart that the tough times eventually will give way to growth.
5. Remember what truly matters.
When you feel overwhelmed, focus on the people and principles that are most meaningful to you. What are the values behind your financial strategy? Let your values guide where you place your energy: spend time with loved ones, help others in your community or deepen your faith practice. Connecting to something larger than yourself can keep you grounded in times of uncertainty.
For financial guidance on these tips, contact your