President’s Newsletter – January 2016

Your Board has decided to downsize and to reduce substantially the range of activities it undertakes because of the high cost of the Head Office function and the reduced level of resources available to it.

However, the actions we plan to take will not affect your Branch activities or their funds and are only about ensuring that we as a National body can continue into the future. Branches and members are our lifeblood and we will continue to strongly support them.

On Saturday 28 November 2015, at a Special Meeting called by your National Board, Branches agreed with the Board’s proposal to reduce the range of activities and funds operated at a National level. This will result in a leaner National Body with a focus on:

  • communicating with branches and members including the sharing of successes and failures through fraternity;
  • representation on national matters;
  • member support through a National Benevolent Fund; and
  • membership record keeping.

What changes are planned?

Your Board will make the following changes:

  • Closing and distributing to fund members, their interest in the
    • Retraining Fund
    • Tertiary Bursary Fund
    • Transition Fund

It is our aim that members will receive their entitlements by 31 March 2016.

  • Branches to become responsible for invoicing member’s dues.
  • An option of Annual Dues notices.
  • Sale of Timeshare weeks.

Any sale will be conditional on honouring 2016 Bookings.

  • Closure and distribution of the Society’s Medical Assistance fund.

The Society’s rules are currently being reviewed to allow for the above changes.

I hope members and their families had a very enjoyable and safe Christmas & New Year and I wish you all the very best for 2016.

Philip Horan

President’s Newsletter – September 2014

As was indicated at the Annual Meeting, the current arrangements for the Society’s administration were due to end at the end of August 2014.

The Board undertook a closed tender process, with four firms being invited to submit proposals for either the financial administration, secretarial support or both.  After reviewing all proposals, the Board have decided to award the financial administration contract to Munro Benge.

The Board are currently looking at options for the provision of Secretarial services and part of this includes a review of overall management expenditure.  As a Board, we are very mindful of the need to reduce costs where possible in order to live within our means.

During this time, Munro Benge have agreed to continue undertaking this role.

Annual Plan

The Board has agreed and adopted the Annual Plan for 2014/15.  This plan sets out the direction your Board will be taking this year and its objectives for the year.  It also outlines the Board’s Committees for 2014.

The Society’s rules identify that the Board are responsible to administer the affairs of the Society.  In doing so, the Board will take into account the objects of the Society as outlined in Rule 4.1.

With the closure of the Society’s District Office in 2010, the Board has been required to undertake more of the workload themselves.  To effectively manage these challenges the Board operates through a number of sub-committees.  With the exception of the Audit and Trustees Committees, the President and Secretary are ex officio members of all Board committees.

It is the responsibility of the sub-committees to undertake the delegated work and regularly report back to the Board on progress. Sub committees will, where practical, seek to minimise costs by undertaking investigative and consultative phases themselves with minimal input from contractors.

The following sets out the Board’s objectives for the coming year and identifies how the Board intends to achieve them:

Audit Committee
The Audit Committee consists of three Board Members.  The committee provides a forum for the effective communication between the Board and the external auditors. The committee reviews the auditor’s management report and advises the Board on any actions that may be required to strengthen management information systems and systems of internal control.

The Audit Committee for 2014/5 is:  P Delaney (Convenor), K Frost and B Brittenden.

Communications Committee
The maintenance of effective and relevant communication both with our Branches and members is a high priority for 2014/15.  In order to achieve all our goals, we need the input and support of our Branches and their members.  However, in a time of falling income we must recognise the need to restrict expenditure wherever possible.

To achieve this the committee will electronically forward Newsletters to all Branches following each Board Meeting, and Branches will be encouraged to email them out to their members.

Newsletters to all members will go out with October and March Dues Notices.  Copies of all communication will also be placed on our website, along with any other news items.

The Communication Committee for 2014/15 is:  S Healey (Convenor), B Brittenden, P Sumby.

Funds and Marketing Committee
This committee’s focus is the development of new fund options along with assisting Branches with the implementation of new funds. In addition they will develop advertising/ marketing strategy and resources.

In 2014/15 the committee will assist Branches who wish to establish branch based medical refund schemes and will work on developing a possible education benefit (Provided it is cost effective and not classed as insurance).  The committee will also assist Bro Tony Horan to implement his offer to provide members who have new babies with a suitable gift from the Society.

As we no longer have agents around the country our growth must come from members and Branches, along with electronic means (e.g. website).  To assist with this we need to update all existing pamphlets and develop additional marketing tools to assist Branches/Members in recruiting new members.

The Funds and Marketing Committee for 2014/15 is:  P McGill (Convenor), T Cotter, K Frost.

Structure and Management
This committee will focus on the redesign of our administration and accounting contracts.  They will act as the Board’s representatives in the negotiating of contracts as well as monitoring ongoing performance by contractors.  In addition to this, they will also monitor any political or legislative changes and be responsible for rule amendments etc.

The Structure and Management Committee for 2014/15 is:  P Horan (Convenor), G Stewart, P Sumby.

Trustees Committee
The role of the Trustees is outlined in Rule 10 of the Society’s Rules.  The Trustees are elected by the Annual Meeting and for the 2014/15 year are:  P Sumby, P Delaney, P McGill.

Definition of ‘Catholic’

In response to the discussion at the Annual Meeting, the Board has requested that Bro Frost chair a committee of prominent members to provide clarity on this issue.  The committee will invite input from Branches directly and will the report to the Board in time for any proposed rule changes to be brought forward to the next Annual Meeting.

2015 Annual Meeting

The Board has set Saturday 25 July 2015 as the date for the next Annual Meeting which will be held in Wellington.

Phil Horan

President’s Newsletter – November 2013

Our General Manager, Br. Phil O’Brien, advises that the balance of 30% of the amount owing to those members of the Transitional Fund who requested a pay-out will be paid before 30 November 2013.

Members may recall that those who have requested pay-out were paid 70% of the amount owing to them in August 2013.

For those who remain Members of the Society, and who have decided to leave their money in the Transitional Fund, I can provide an update on our legal action against our former auditors, Grant Thornton, which we anticipate will provide further money for the Transitional Fund.

The legal action is gradually moving ahead.  The next step is a formal mediation on 19 December 2013.  Although there is no certainty that settlement will be reached as a result of that mediation, we have agreed that the court hearing date can be moved from February 2014 to late June / early July 2014.

Fraternally yours

Br Gordon Stewart

President’s Newsletter – April 2013

At the Society’s Special Meeting held in Wellington on 16 March 2013 it was agreed that the Society would cease all insurance business, for the reasons set out in previous newsletters.  The meeting, after discussion and with some amendment, accepted the Board’s recommended Rule changes to achieve this.

What does that mean?  All insurance cover provided by the Society ceased at midnight on 31 March 2013.  The value of each policy-holder’s life assurance or funeral benefit as at 31 March 2013 is currently being calculated by an actuary.  This ‘actuarial value’ will then be held by the Society for that policy holder, as a fixed sum owed by the Society to the policy holder.

The Society will be contacting each member affected by this change to advise them of their entitlement.  We anticipate that this will be during June 2013.

The Society will be paying out the money owing to former policy holders progressively, as funds come to hand.  It is not certain how quickly this can happen, but I am confident that the great majority of funds will be available to members who require it within months.

On the other hand, I believe that not every former policy holder will need their money to be paid out immediately.  I, for one, will be leaving my modest amount with the Society (more on this below).

There are two main reasons why the Society is not in a position to pay out every former policy holder immediately.  Firstly, the Society has invested prudently over the years, which means that some of the Society’s investments are in medium-term assets such as mortgages.  Secondly, the Society is pursuing a legal action against its former auditors to recover some of the money stolen from it.  The amount and timing of that recovery are uncertain, although the Board is confident of a positive outcome.

As well as the actuarial value mentioned above (as a debt to each former policy holder), the Board is as confident as is possible in a dynamic investment environment, that bonuses will be available to members, based on the good investment returns that the Society has been achieving and on other gains such as the legal action mentioned above.  These bonuses will be paid out from time-to-time in proportion to the amount owing to members at that time.

It is a legal requirement, and it is included in the Rules, that only members can receive such bonuses.  Former policy holders who chose not to continue their membership of the Society will of course be paid out the money owing to them as determined by the actuary, in the same way as other former policy holders.  However they will not participate in any gains (or losses!) that the Society is able to achieve through its investments and operations.  So I intend to maintain my membership!

Members who did not have insurance policies are not affected by these changes, and we hope that they will continue to maintain their membership of the Society.

So much for the past.  What of the future?  The Board has already reaffirmed its belief in, and commitment to, the future of the Society as a fraternal and benevolent organisation.  While the nature and structure of the Society will be very different from the past, its future lies in local branches that meet local needs and work together to provide coordinated national benefits.

To help facilitate this discussion, the Board is setting aside a good part of our Annual Meeting on 20 July 2013 to explore this future together, and all members are encouraged to attend.

We will continue to provide more detailed information over the coming months on the Society’s website.

Gordon Stewart