Combining faith and finance
Skills developed over 25 years in banking help Ken Hochstetler lead Everence
Goshen, IND — Ken Hochstetler’s office at Everence’s corporate headquarters isn’t adorned with the trophies, diplomas and awards you might expect in the workspace of a man who heads a $3 billion company.
The only framed mementos that reflect his journey are a print he received after serving nine years on MEDA’s board, and a smaller certificate that dates back four-and-a-half decades.
His outstanding paper carrier award from the Goshen newspaper in the early 1970s, near the doorway of his office, is one recognition he recalls fondly. “You never quite know what experiences shape you, but I always had that on the wall of my offices,” he says when asked.
When Hochstetler returned to Goshen four years ago after living in Pennsylvania for almost three decades, he encountered his sixth-grade teacher on the street. Wondering if the man would remember him, Hostetler was surprised to hear the man describe a report he had given in sixth grade about his paper route and being organized.
Hochstetler is quick to credit a variety of teachers and mentors for “any sense of accomplishment I may have and where I am today in life.
“For me, it’s instrumental to remember where I came from, and experiences a long way back.”
He met his wife Sue, a Pennsylvania native, at Goshen College. “The biggest thing I learned in a couple years was — I’ve got some more things to learn.”
After completing a Master of Business Administration degree at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA., he expected to return to Indiana within a few years. “Twenty-nine years later, we were still living in Pennsylvania.”
Hochstetler’s career in financial services included five years of commercial lending, then a 24-year career with Univest, rising to president of wealth management, a division that has over $3 billion in assets under management. A career in banking, investments, insurance and financial planning gave him a solid grounding in Everence’s business areas by the time they approached him to consider leading the organization.
The aims of publicly held Univest were for profit. “Now I get to work in a space that is not for profit — faith-based, member-owned, fraternal. For this chapter of my life, it’s a pretty cool place to be.
“There’s a place for private enterprise, and there’s a place for people of like mind and faith orientation to come together to do good work.
“MEDA does that (latter task) in all kinds of places. It’s people of faith expressing their values in the marketplace, and I believe that people can do that back here.”
His first exposure to MEDA was at Goshen College. “I came out of college with a global awareness. That’s one thing Goshen College is good at.”
After entering the financial services industry and becoming a young parent, Hochstetler found that a life he had previously viewed as balanced became unbalanced.
“One of the things I was then looking for was, how can you be faithful to your family, your faith call, while you are participating in the marketplace, and have a professional career and aspirations to do good work.
“It was MEDA that gave me the understanding and the language of how you put those together.”
Initially drawn to MEDA because of its international efforts, he came to deeply appreciate “the other half of MEDA’s mission, around faith and work, being a Christian in the marketplace.”
Hochstetler served on the Delaware Valley (Souderton, PA.) chapter board for 19 years. “It was at MEDA that I ran into people who had many more years than me that could talk about how they did all that (balancing and integrating life aspirations).
“The truth is, you can’t do it all. There are trade-offs you have to make, and they were instructive for me on how you craft a life that puts these pieces together.”
Hochstetler credits the “incredibly generous people” he met at MEDA and the Mennonite church his family attended as shaping his values orientation.
Those encounters attracted him to Everence and the call to move back to Indiana after his children had grown up and moved away. “The people at church who were part of the stewardship and finance stuff that I was pretty deeply involved with were also MEDA members. It’s the interplay of all those (connections).”
Hochstetler’s favorite story from the Old Testament in the Bible is Samuel hearing the voice of God three times prior to understanding (1 Samuel 3 7-11).
He was approached by Everence about becoming a senior leader in three different searches. The third time they asked, the timing was right.
Howard Brenneman, a former head of Everence predecessor MMA, is someone Hochstetler has known since high school. Sitting together on a bus during a MEDA tour, Brenneman told Hochstetler of feeling blessed to have had careers both in the private sector (Hesston Corporation) and in the church (through MMA).
“I have to say, that really resonated with me, and was helpful input into my decision to come to Everence.”
Everence, MEDA and MCC all share the values of Orie Miller, who was involved in founding these and other organizations, Hochstetler said. Miller’s 1943 suggestion that “in this changing situation, the church intends to go along with its members and help them, wherever in good conscience they need to go,” has been a guiding principle for Everence.
“We listen to our members and figure out what they need, and meet their needs,” Hochstetler said. “I’m glad that the folks who came before had the foresight for some of this stuff.”
His current job is shaping the organization “for people who aren’t even with us yet.”
“The interesting challenge I have is working with talented, gifted people, and enabling them to do lots more good work than I could ever do by myself. That gives me a lot of energy, to think in those terms.
“I can’t think of anything that’s more satisfying than helping other people find great fulfilment.
The largest opportunity Hochstetler sees is improving what Everence already does, taking it to more people and helping them “be faithful in combining the areas of faith and finance.” ◆