Workers Value Overall Financial Education

Ninety-five percent of workers believe financial literacy is important, LIMRA says, but their takeaways can vary.

While 95% of workers said financial literacy is important, only one-third (35%) feel they are moderately or extremely knowledgeable about financial products and services, a LIMRA study found. Only 28% indicated they are very confident in their abilities to make important financial decisions.

Just 17% of workers polled said they were “extremely satisfied” with financial literacy about retirement planning, while managing or reducing debt (32%), avoiding scams and identify theft (31%) and general budgeting (30%) all got higher marks.

However, for the “satisfied” ranking, 56% of workers gave a thumbs up to education about retirement planning, more than expressed satisfaction with managing debt (47%), avoiding scams (31%) or budgeting (30%).

One reason for the divide, says Jenn Douglas, associate research director for LIMRA Developmental and Strategic Research, is the comparative vintage of the topics. “Education on retirement has been around for a while,” she tells PLANADVISER, “and debt reduction hasn’t been as prominent, so the newer topics get more attention.” Douglas notes that according to the study, satisfaction ratings with all the offerings are still in the 70% to 80% range.

The sheer number of workers being polled could also play a part, Douglas says. LIMRA surveyed 2,000 full-time employees of all ages, she points out, and because the research reflects an entire workforce with a range of generations, it will similarly reflect a range of interests. “The retirement plan might be very important to people in their 50s, but not to those in their 20s and 30s,” she says.

NEXT: Few have general financial education available.

The study found that nearly two in three workers have access to educational programs about their employee benefits, with 72% of those taking advantage of the program. Six in 10 workers have access to retirement planning help through their employers. The following programs are available to roughly one-quarter of employees: general budgeting, debt management or estate planning.

A majority of workers who took advantage of financial literacy offerings were satisfied with the financial education programs they attended, the study found. Workers who attended the debt management programs were more likely to be extremely satisfied with the course (32%)

Nearly half (49%) of interested employees want to use an online program for employer-sponsored education. One-on-one meetings with financial advisers, written materials (newsletters, pamphlets and workbooks), and seminars appealed to about one-third of workers who want information. 

“American workers are responsible for so many day-to-day financial decisions that can have a significant impact on their overall financial well-being for the rest of their lives,” Douglas notes. “Employers recognize that financial stress can impact an employee’s performance, and we are seeing more interest from employers in offering financial education to their workers to help them better manage their finances.”

LIMRA assessed full-time employees’ access to workplace-based financial education programs and whether they took advantage of those programs. A link to a graphic on the satisfaction with different financial education topics is here.