An Association and Adviser Partner to Provide Financial Planning for Nurses

“One of the reasons we started the service is we believe nurses are so focused on patients, they don’t spend time on themselves and thinking about their financial future,” says Steve Fox with the American Nurses Association.

Edelman Financial Services provides financial planning services to members of the American Nurses Association (ANA) for free, and after one year of the program, 35,000 of the 187,000 members have reached out for one-on-one sessions with Edelman and tens of thousands more are receiving education and information via other modes.

Steve Fox, vice president of membership and constituent relations of the ANA, in Silver Spring, Maryland, helped put the program together and markets it to ANA members. “One of the reasons we started the service is we believe nurses are so focused on patients, they don’t spend time on themselves and thinking about their financial future. We thought this would be a helpful service,” he says.

Fox explains that only about half of ANA members work in hospitals, and the rest work in a variety of settings, many of which are small and do not provide retirement plans. Also, some are working two jobs or part-time.

“The idea of benefit programs offered through third parties is traditional for associations. When I got to ANA five years ago, we had a similar program, but it had low visibility and participation rates,” he says.

Fox says Ric Edelman, founder and executive chairman of Edelman Financial Services in Fairfax, Virginia, reached out to the ANA because of his passion for serving nurses. The program is a no-cost, information based service. “ANA makes no money. Working with Ric’s firm, we only give independent, fact-based information. Our goal is to get members connected with someone who can help them.”

“The reason we reached out to Steve and the ANA is we have established nurses as our major focus of philanthropy,” Edelman adds. “Police, firefighters and school teachers are municipal employees and typically have a pension, but nurses don’t typically have a pension and many don’t have a defined contribution (DC) plan. They are overworked and underpaid, and we wanted to show appreciation by giving them what they don’t have access to.”

NEXT: What the program provides

Edelman explains that the program provides content to ANA members about financial education and information in a variety of formats—articles, newsletter, significant audio and video content on its website, and seminars for ANA and its conferences. “In all these formats, we tell nurses they can contact us and we will provide complete financial planning services for free since they are members of ANA,” he says.

A financial plan for a typical Edelman client normally costs $800, but the cost is waived for ANA members. “It’s a rigorous, comprehensive process,” Edelman explains. “The client provides significant information about his personal finances; they meet for an hour or two with a financial planner; the financial planner develops a plan and recommendations, and presents them in another one or two hour meeting. The client can implement the plan on his own, with his current adviser or with us.”

The financial plan addresses a range of situations such as college, retirement, and estate planning; homeownership; best utilizing benefits at work; buying or leasing cars; and budgeting. Edelman notes that his firm has been working with ANA for one year, and more than 3,500 nurses have reached out for the personal financial plan. Tens of thousands more have received education via other modes.

While neither Edelman nor the ANA have done a formal survey to gauge nurses’ satisfaction with the program, Edelman says his firm has received many emails, letters and phone calls, as well as had conversations with nurses, in which nurses say how appreciative they are. “Many say they didn’t know where to turn. The program has been well-received, and the fact that 3,500 contacted us for personal financial plans demonstrates a high level of confidence.”

But, Edelman says the fact that the program is provided for free and more have not reached out for a personal financial plan is a little discouraging, so they are going to focus on getting participation up.

Fox says the ANA promotes the program on its website under the heading "Personal Benefits." There is a paragraph explaining the services and a link to Edelman’s website where nurses can sign up to receive information or a free financial plan. In addition, the ANA has state affiliates that are independent organizations, and 40 of the 48 state affiliates have signed up for the program—the ANA does not include affiliates in Alaska or Hawaii.

“So, this is just the beginning. We have a long way to go. All members need to think about financial planning, so we’re going to keep promoting the program and keep it top of mind for members,” Fox concludes.