8 Must-Haves for Financial Wellness

Company Spotlight:  Advizr

Money is the top cause of stress in the US, according to an American Psychological Association survey. “Every employee deserves a financial plan” is Advizr’s motto, and they deliver: their tool offers personalized solutions for every employee to achieve their financial goals, whether they’re paying off student loans or saving for retirement.

Plus, their weekly email newsletter “The Financial Checkup” is a must-read for anyone in the HR and benefits world. It’s a fun roundup of financial wellness content that will surely be the least boring thing in your inbox! Sign up here for their weekly email newsletter.

One unique component of Advizr’s program is the Financial Wellness Assessment. Once you sign up, your HR team will get a unique link to assess the financial wellbeing of your population — for free! You’ll see results populate in real time in the WorkPlace Director Dashboard. Armed with this information, you’ll be able to decide what solution makes sense for your employees.

Advizr’s white papers provide in-depth explanations of various topics in financial wellness. Below I’ve shared their “8 Must-Haves for a Successful Financial Wellness Program”.

1. Senior leadership buy-in – To be truly successful, any workplace initiative must have the support of senior leadership. The tone set by your executives with regard to your wellness program means everything. Employees want and need to feel that their managers care and that their wellbeing is invested in. It is not just retirement employers should care about, but whether employees can meet their day-to-day expenses and cover unexpected costs in the event of an emergency. In its 2018 Employee Wellness Survey, PwC found two-thirds of millennial and Gen X employees(1) , along with half of baby boomers, value a company more if it cares about their financial wellbeing.

2. Availability to ALL employees – Everyone benefits from programs that empower them to take control of their financial wellbeing, regardless of their net worth or situation. While common sense may lead us to think those earning less require financial advice and guidance the most, even high-earning employees making more than $100,000 annually still worry about finances(2). In 2018, nearly half (42%) of these high earners reported ongoing credit card balances and nearly one-quarter (23%) use their credit cards to pay for monthly expenses they cannot afford with cash.

3. Ease of access beyond company portal – In the age of the app, accessibility must extend to mobile devices. Easy access to financial wellness programs and tracking functionality means employees can access these resources outside of the office, from the palm of their hand whenever they want to examine their financial picture. Mobile access also allows employees to check their balances in real time, view progress to meeting their goals and see a snapshot on where their money has gone for certain budgets.

4. Comprehensive financial wellness tool-box – In its 2017 study, Prudential found 83% of employers now offer wellness programs(3) , up from 20% just two years earlier(4) . As financial wellness programs proliferate across corporate America, how to define the most impactful programs is still up for debate. However, the most reputable programs encompass:

  1. Technology: Financial wellness assessments and associated platforms to drive financial goals
  2. Education: Access to articles, educational messaging and seminars on relevant topics
  3. Communication: Frequent touch points through promotional campaigns and in-app notifications
  4. High-touch support: Personalized guidance from a financial professional to engage and empower

5. Ability to track day-to-day spending – Employees must be able to track their progress in real time. Helping people take control of day-to-day money matters will gradually elevate their comfort level as they figure out their spending and savings, and ultimately in managing larger sums of money. Forty-one percent (5) of employees report that their employer’s financial wellness program has helped them rein in spending. Solutions that assist in the management of daily cash flow can be accomplished through the linking (and aggregating) of bank accounts to create budgets, financial education and high-touch support through one-on-one financial coaching. Having a platform that informs of when a certain budget has, or is about to, exceeded funds is also valuable to drive behavior change.

6. Long-term expense planning – While employees want financial help and guidance in many areas of their lives, half of all US employees cite saving for retirement as their top concern(6) . Beyond retirement though, employees want guidance on other long-term expenses, such as paying down revolving debt and student loans, strategies on building and growing an emergency fund, buying a home, saving for their children’s education and covering future healthcare costs. Addressing student loan debt may be the single most important priority for employees, as a significant percentage of those with such debt [baby boomers (75%), Gen Xers (77%), and millennials (81%)] say it has a moderate or significant impact on their finances(7) and negatively impacts their ability to tackle other long term goals. All of these competing priorities must be addressed in tandem through a comprehensive platform on which a user can easily view all of their priorities.

7. Relevant employer offerings and resources – Financial decisions generate stress and a proliferation of options that frequently lead to paralysis and more stress. Employees need continual “pushes” on where to put their extra dollars, what key topics they should be prioritizing and how their existing employee benefit offerings can enhance their financial wellbeing. More than half (54%) of employees surveyed for PwC’s 2018 Financial Wellness Survey(8) say that although they make their own personal finance decisions, they feel more confident if they can call upon someone else to validate and confirm their choices.  Employers must recognize their role in ensuring employees know they care about their wellbeing and are investing in offerings to help them meet goals. Implementing a financial wellness assessment allows an employee to receive a baseline of where they stand on the spectrum of being financially fit, while providing the employer real time insight into their workforce’s top concerns. Employers can then evaluate alternative or additional vendors to ensure their benefit offerings align with the requests from their population.

8. Financial coaching and guidance – Employees need high-touch, customized support specific to their personal goals and priorities. The best delivery of this assistance comes when employees can speak with a financial coach (often the financial advisor managing the company’s 401k plan) in person and during the workday. For those not yet ready for a sit-down meeting, employee financial wellness programs can also offer educational seminars and webinars in a group setting given by a professionally trained advisor with topical knowledge who can guide thoughtful decision making. The ultimate goal of this service is to engage, educate and empower employees to make decisions that help them in working toward a more financially secure future.

Advizr also offers a monthly calendar packed with budgeting and lifestyle tips that makes a great addition to the office fridge. Download July’s here and check out the June calendar below.

About the Contributing Author:
Maria Behrens, MPH, Head of Financial Wellness & Community, Advizr

Maria is the Head of Financial Wellness and Community for Advizr Inc., where she oversees the development and execution of their financial wellness program. Prior to joining Advizr, she worked in the Benefits and Wellness sector at Goldman Sachs where she created and implemented various health, wellbeing and personal finance/retirement initiatives for the employees of the firm. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Population Health Sciences from Ithaca College and a Masters in Public Health Program Design from
Boston University School of Public Health.

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Sources: 1. PwC Employee Financial Wellness Survey 2. PwC Employee Financial Wellness Survey 3. Prudential Benefits and Beyond Report 4. Prudential Today and Beyond Study 5. Financial Finesse Year In Review Report 6. Bank of America Workplace Benefits Report 7. PwC Employee Financial Wellness Survey 8. PwC Employee Financial Wellness Survey

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