Developing a Financial Wellness Program

More and more employers are interested in offering financial wellness help to employees, and there are several methods for which to do that.

By Rebecca Moore | May 03, 2016
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Moderating a panel at the 2016 Plan Sponsor Council of America (PSCA) annual conference in Nashville, Tennessee, Kenje Mallot, financial solutions product manager in the Retirement Strategy & Solutions unit at Aon Hewitt, pointed out that employers are increasingly offering help to workers with financial wellness.

According to Aon Hewitt’s “Hot Topics in Retirement and Financial Well-Being” survey report, a majority of large employers (55%) now offer help to workers in a least one category of financial wellness, such as budgeting, debt management or the financial aspects of health care. Mallot told attendees that 85% of employers said they offer financial wellness help because it is the right thing to do.

Steve Smalley, managing director of client experience at Schwab Retirement Plan Services, noted that a spectrum of organizations have emerged to help employers provide financial wellness tools and programs to employees. They use a convergence of technology, data analytics and behavior finance.

For example, Yodlee is a firm focused on account aggregation for employees. It helps employees see their financial situation in a single view to let them know where they are and whether they are moving in the right direction long-term. GuideSpark focuses on providing information, using brief presentations to explain complex financial issues. In addition, HelloWallet merges data analytics and technology to frame employees’ savings and spending habits and compare them to their peers. It also provides scores to help employees see if they are improving on their savings scores, or debt scores, for example.

“No one sees retirement savings in a vacuum,” Smalley said. “They look at savings in comparison with their total financial picture.”

According to Smalley, a good financial wellness program includes:

  • Assessment tools;
  • Financial literacy and wellness content addressing behavioral finance;
  • The ability to plan, from budgeting, to emergency savings to longer-term savings; and
  • The ability to execute the plan.

He added that employers should find out the unique needs of employees—what they are most stressed about financially.

NEXT: Three approaches to providing financial wellness help