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FINANCIAL WELLNESS | COVER STORY
Look at employee demographics and behaviors.
What kind of help with their financial lives does a particular
workforce need? " The first step in that conversation is
understanding the employee demographics, " says Matt Cellini,
a partner and practice lead at Greenspring Advisors in Towson,
Maryland. " What does your employee bell curve look like? "
Greenspring assesses the distribution of employee demographics
according to factors such as age, income and education;
it also considers retirement plan participation rates,
deferral rates, loan and hardship withdrawal usage, and other
behavior-related data. " You want to find the pockets of poor
financial behavior within your organization, and then try to
address them first, " he says.
Fiduciary Plan Advisors receives some data from the plan's
recordkeeper and gets creative to search out additional insights
on a workforce's needs, Huber says. " It could be that we have
a blunt conversation with someone from the retirement plan
committee, " he says. They look for an employee " who is longtenured
at that company, a 'boots on the ground' person who has
a good feel for the average worker there. Then we can ask questions
such as 'Does your workforce have many student loans? Are
the younger members of your workforce looking to purchase a
home?' and 'Are many of your employees working past age 65?' "
Survey the workforce to learn people's biggest
financial stressors. There are layers of how employers
understand employees' financial worries, Davidson says.
" Many employers know, anecdotally, because they've seen an
increase in employees taking 401(k) loans or hardship withdrawals,
or they've heard from their employees about their
financial stressors, " she says. " I feel like, post-COVID-19, there
is a little more acceptance of talking about your finances. "
It helps to get not just data that evidence financial stress,
but some understanding of the underlying reasons. " There are
the numbers[-e.g., for retirement plan loans-]but there's also
what's driving the numbers, " Davidson says, noting that an
employee survey helps uncover the workforce's financial stressors.
" It's important to get a combination of quantitative and
qualitative information from the survey, " she says. " You want to
understand: What are the indicators of financial stressors, and
what's driving those numbers? " Maybe a substantial number of
employees took a 401(k) loan in the past year to pay their basic
living expenses or their credit card debt.
Common issues that Greenspring Advisors currently sees
among its clients' employees include high student debt and credit
card debt, Cellini says. To figure out what the problems are, he,
too, recommends surveying. " We've developed an anonymous
survey for employees that gets right to the heart of [their] financial
well-being. Once we get that [aggregate] data, we go on to
build out the custom deliverables for that employer's program. "
The Greenspring survey asks an employee questions such
as: " How much do you have in emergency savings? " " How
much do you have in credit card debt? " and " How often do you
18 PLANSPONSOR.COM August - September 2021
make the minimum payment on your credit cards? " Employers
that want to incentivize employees to complete the survey
can gamify it, Cellini suggests. For instance, every employee
who finishes it gets entered in a raffle. He has worked with
employers that offered prizes such as a $100 Visa gift card or
lunch with the company's CEO.
Set goals for the program. It is a good idea for an
employer to set specific goals for its program; this helps
clarify later whether a program succeeded, says Charles
Lattimer, vice president of growth and innovation at financial
wellness provider FinFit, in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
" By taking a data-based approach, you can set expectations in
terms of the program's ROI [return on investment] and success
metrics, " he says. " The No. 1 thing to track is utilization of the
program, because if people aren't utilizing the program, you
aren't going to see any impact from it. "
The specific quantitative goals that make sense to set in
order to gauge a program's results depend on the employer, says
Kelli Davis, vice president of retirement plan consulting at CSi
Advisory Services in Indianapolis. " Some employers want to
see very manageable, meaningful objectives set such as 'Over
the next year, our employees who participate in the program
will report that they've paid off $500,000 of their debt.' Others
may say, 'I want all my employees to meet with somebody at CSi
and talk to them about their financial issues.' "
In thinking about goals, also consider qualitative results,
Davis says. CSi determines these by asking a program's participants
to take a self-assessment at the start of the financial wellness
program and again, a year into it. " Our survey asks questions
about [qualitative] things such as 'How often do I think
about my finances?' and 'When I do think about my finances,
how stressed do I get?' " she says. " A year later, if 40% of your
employees say they are less stressed about their finances, that
is meaningful. "
Have a 'one-on-one meeting' component. For a
customized program to have real impact, it must be more
than an automated, fintech solution, says Matt Gulseth, a retirement
plan consultant at Channel Financial in Minneapolis. " There
needs to be a human touch, a perceived knowledgeable expert who
can give employees affirmation that they can resolve their specific
issue, who can make them feel like they have the subjective knowledge
to [identify] what to do, " he says. " People need to feel 'I'm
going down the right path.' Having the human element involved
addresses that feeling probably better than any content can. "
Huber says one-on-one meetings have turned out to be the
most effective learning format in a financial wellness program.
" I think that's how we spur the most positive change, " he says.
" When we do one-on-one meetings, it's amazing how quickly
they become a sort of therapy session. Folks know what they're
there to talk to us about, and they really open up about, what is
for most people, their most sensitive subject. "
PLANSPONSOR - August/September 2021
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of PLANSPONSOR - August/September 2021
To Ensure All Are Well
2021 PLANSPONSOR National Conference
Equipped for Anything?
The Security of Savings
Take a Load Off
PLANSPONSOR - August/September 2021 - Cover1
PLANSPONSOR - August/September 2021 - Cover2
PLANSPONSOR - August/September 2021 - 1
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PLANSPONSOR - August/September 2021 - To Ensure All Are Well
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PLANSPONSOR - August/September 2021 - 19
PLANSPONSOR - August/September 2021 - 2021 PLANSPONSOR National Conference
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PLANSPONSOR - August/September 2021 - Equipped for Anything?
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PLANSPONSOR - August/September 2021 - The Security of Savings
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PLANSPONSOR - August/September 2021 - Take a Load Off
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PLANSPONSOR - August/September 2021 - Cover3
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