GCU President/CEO February Report
Overcoming the Pandemic
Once again, science prevails! We are most grateful to the many individuals that have dedicated their careers to science. The various research conducted in all scientific fields is of utmost importance to protect our global environment and the human race from threats such as disease, climate change, natural disasters and a multitude of other potential harmful issues. Science touches every aspect of our lives from the miracle of life itself, inventions to make our lives easier, to air and space travel. The list can go on and on. Medical sciences are most fascinating, providing the opportunity for us to lead a long, active, fulfilling and productive life. No greater advancement has been achieved by the medical sciences than allowing for life expectancies to increase over the years. In 1950 life expectancy was 68.14 compared to today’s life expectancy of 78.9. We are so blessed that God has provided the wisdom, intelligence, knowledge and know how to so many individuals within the medical field and other fields that has allowed for so many advancements.
Many diseases that have been inflicted upon the human race since the beginning of time have been eradicated or controlled through vaccinations. Polio, rubella and measles have been eradicated in the United States with smallpox being eradicated worldwide. We are hopeful that someday we can add the COVID-19 virus to this list as we are currently rounding the corner to control this deadly virus. We must all be grateful to the entire health care work force placing their lives on the line daily to assist those individuals that have contacted COVID-19 and to those that are administering the vaccines.
The safety of our employees is of utmost importance as many of our staff members continue to work remotely. We anticipate at some point in 2021 our entire staff will be returning to our office based upon the vaccination progress.
As I reported to you in the December issue of the GCU Magazine, the GCU has performed remarkably in 2020 despite the many challenges presented by the pandemic. The largest challenge faced was meeting our established goals for life and annuity premium. Although we fell short of our goals, we did exceed last years production which is a positive. The GCU’s 2020 year end financials will continue to exhibit growth in assets and surplus while producing an excellent net profit before capital gains and losses. The struggles within the energy sector, particularly to the energy oil fields subsector, led to the decision to liquidate these holdings as the prospects of a total default of these positions may occur. Please note that eighty-five percent of this realized loss was absorbed by our Asset Valuation Reserve (AVR) and had no negative affect on surplus.
Again, we express our sincere thank you to our members and agents for your business and the continued trust you have in the GCU!
In the April Annual Report issue of the GCU Magazine our Chief Operations Officer, Scott Schuetz and our Chief Financial Officer, Tim Demetres will provide additional details and updates on our continued ongoing operational improvements and our 2020 year-end financial statements.
The GCU was recently reviewed once again by KBRA (Kroll Bond Rating Agency). Kroll Bond Rating Agency, LLC and its affiliates (KBRA) is a global full-service rating agency with a mission to set a standard of excellence and integrity. Established in 2010, KBRA remains dedicated to the restoration of trust in credit ratings by creating new standards for assessing risk and by offering timely and transparent ratings. We are pleased to report that they affirmed our current BBB+ rating with a continued positive outlook. We invite you to view the press release issued by KBRA on page 2 of the February Magazine. The Board, Executive Officers and entire Staff are striving to achieve an “A rating.” We feel that we have certainly made great strides in many areas of our operation with continued financial success despite the pandemic challenges. In our discussions during the review meeting with representatives of KBRA, they were very complimentary of GCU’s continued progress and improvements to our governance processes, operations, sales and distribution and our Enterprise Risk Management. It is unfortunate that KBRA informed us that due to the uncertainty posed by the pandemic and the current overall marketplace environment, they are taking a conservative approach of currently not upgrading companies. We are extremely confident that an upgrade to a minimum of an “A- Rating” is imminent.
This pandemic as we know, has had a major impact upon our work and social activities. Our various fundraising, volunteer efforts and social activities sponsored on a National, Lodge and District level have been greatly reduced. As I reported in my December 2020 article, the Board of Directors authorized a substantial amount of our 2020 fraternal budget that was not used by our traditional fraternal programing to be repurposed to direct donations to local food pantries in communities where our Lodges and Districts are based and to all of the parishes within the four eparchies of the Byzantine Ruthenian Church in the United States. Again, our sincere thank you to the many Lodges and Districts that were able to be active in participating in our Grant and Matching Funds Programs and other activities that were conducted under the guidelines established by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and federal and state mandates. We are hopeful that at some point we can resume the many traditional and new fraternal activities this year.
The GCU celebrated the 129th anniversary since our founding on February 14, 1892. It is a time to reflect upon the initial purpose and mission of the GCU that has been upheld throughout our history. From our humble beginnings of providing life insurance to the many Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants working in dangerous conditions in the coal mines and steel mills, although modified, our mission continues in “Protecting Families, Providing Faith and Fraternalism, Strengthening Communities.” Through the guidance of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and St. Nicholas of Myra, the GCU’s patron saint, the GCU has weathered the storms and challenges presented over the last 129 years. We should be most proud to be a part of the GCU that supports the needs of our communities, churches and individuals in need to make our world a better place.
In closing, my best wishes to you and your family to remain safe as this pandemic will eventually be a distant memory. As always, please contact me with any questions or concerns!
GOODNESS IS GREAT!
George N. Juba