Fiduciary Is Fun!
(a.k.a. I heart taxes)
(a.k.a. I heart taxes)
PWC is one of the largest accounting firms in the country working with some of the largest corporations in the US and even around the world. Given their size and scope, they do a lot of research, and one annual report they have been publishing for several years is around Employee Financial Wellness. They have been producing this report for 8 years.
The report is interesting because it asks employees a number of questions regarding their overall financial wellness and preparedness. How confident are employees regarding their financial decisions? What kind of decisions are employees making? What do employees think about their future? And the ones I find most interesting are those around what their employers can do to help them with their overall financial wellness.
Financial Wellness and programs around them in the workplace have been very popular for a number of years now. It’s very seldom I come across a 401k prospect that doesn’t have some type of “program” in place to address financial wellness for their employees. So you would think that after several years of workplace initiatives employees would be feeling better about their finances, right? Less stressed than ever. Ya, well, it doesn’t seem to be working out that way.
In 2017, the PWC survey indicated that 46% of employees said that financial or money matter challenges were their #1 stressor. After years of trying to help employees, the most recent PWC survey indicates that 59% of them now consider financial or money matter challenges their #1 stressor. Almost 30% more employees are stressed about financial matters now than they were just 3 years ago! At this rate, we should have everyone completely freaked out about financial matters by 2025!
So what the heck is going on here? During this time frame, the economy was strong, inflation was virtually non-existent, and unemployment was at historic lows. We can’t blame any of those factors. What I think is going on is an over reliance on technology as the solution to this issue. I see it all the time as companies roll out new programs to help employees. They are well intentioned, and often well-constructed, but they lack much human involvement.
In my practice, when I am able to meet with employees face-to-face to review their situations and make plans, they are not more stressed after our visit(s) but less stressed. Sure we use technology as an enabler, but the real work happens face to face.
If you are an employer who has implemented a Financial Wellness program but are questioning its effectiveness, I would love to sit down and discuss how we can change that result and begin getting your employees less stressed!
Please give me a call.
Pete Welsh a/k/a 401kGuy
Every employer wants satisfied employees. After all, the opposite doesn’t sound very appealing, does it? How an employer works to create satisfied employees can take numerous avenues. Some of the obvious Management 101 principles include having a boss that cares about their employees’ growth and development, providing an appropriate work/life balance, properly recognizing a job well done, and providing a healthy work culture. These are just a few means of valuing employees on which an employer should focus if the goal is to create satisfied employees.
Nevertheless, even when an employer tries to do everything possible to support employees, not all are satisfied. Some new research from the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute sheds some interesting light on how you can tell if your employees are Satisfied, Settled, Resigned, or Restless (this last one is not good, by the way).
What I found interesting about this research is that it didn’t just simply ask employees how satisfied they are with their employers, but rather looked at specific things employees do and value after they have been identified as Satisfied, Settled, Resigned, or Restless. Satisfied employees are defined as Enthusiastic, Passionate, Positive, and Proud. Just the kind of employee we all want! What is particularly useful about this employee classification is that employers are able to look at the behaviors and values of their employees and get a sense of how successfully the employer is creating Satisfied employees. So, what were some of these behaviors and values that Satisfied employees have that less-enthusiastic employees don’t?
Well, 99% of Satisfied employees feel that workplace benefits are critical to their financial security. And, not surprisingly, Satisfied employees are twice as likely to be participating in the company’s retirement plan. The first takeaway here – if you have many employees not participating in your retirement plan, they might be Restless. Restless employees are unengaged in the employer’s mission and have one foot out the door.
If you find yourself with several employees not involved in your retirement plan, working to improve their satisfaction with your company is a good place to start. Getting them involved with the retirement plan is also a positive sign. Restless employees are more financially stressed than Satisfied employees and tend to be less secure about their future. Helping these Restless employees become more financially secure and involved in the retirement plan is one step an employer can take to move Restless employees toward Satisfied employees.
Want to learn more about how to build a staff of Satisfied employees? Give me a call!
I just picked up a new client and the reason might be a bit surprising. The client was quite happy with their 401k Recordkeeper and made it clear from the outset that they were making no changes with them. Rather, they did not feel that their advisor was moving the needle with employees and it was time for a replacement. They decided to interview prospective advisors, including me, but were not sure what they wanted other than “better engagement with employees.”
After 25 years of working with corporate retirement plans, I did not find this prospect/client to be much different than most. They felt like something was lacking with their existing advisor but couldn’t clearly see what needed to be done to improve things. It’s not their fault. Their job is to run their business not understand everything there is to understand about their 401k plan.
When meeting with a prospect like this, I find it always helpful to inquire as to their wish list and when they invariably struggle (again, not their fault) that is the point where I am able to offer some possible suggestions. What I generally recommend as one of the first items on the list is that it be shown how the plan will be improved through objective data by hiring me. Data should drive our analysis around improvements and serve to justify initiatives, but outside of actual investment performance returns, most companies struggle with defining how the plan is objectively improved.
The first step in showing improvement is to get an analysis of where we are today. For this client, the reason they awarded me the business was my ability to actually baseline today the state of the employees’ financial security and roll that up to an overall corporate score. From here, we will target individuals and groups for financial training and measure the results of actions taken. Over time, we will benchmark the plan again and be able to measure improvements.
This doesn’t sound all the complicated, right? Nevertheless, you might be surprised how few people understand how and why benchmarking current state is so important. To learn how I can help you and your employees, please give me a call!
For far too long, some might say from the very beginning, employers and employees have viewed their workplace benefits in silos. The company's Retirement Plan stood on one side and the Health Plan on the other. Separate and distinct with no overlap. Is that really how they should be viewed?
Probably not. When employees are financially secure, the positive benefits manifest in several areas. And it makes sense that they would. To presume that employees who are financially stressed outside on the job would leave all those stresses in the parking lot when they walk into work each day is simply naive. Moreover, those financial stresses can take on a physical toll.
Research from Prudential Retirement shows that financially stressed employees are
* 190% more likely to be depressed
* 88% more likely to be stressed overall
* 50% more likely to experience a disability claim
* 32% of Americans say that lack of money prevents them from living a healthy lifestyle.
What do these and other statistics like them mean for employers? Ignoring your employees Financial Security will harm you in other ways including increased health insurance costs as well as workers compensation costs. What's the answer? Pay people more money? Actually, no. The answer is to help employees gain control of their financial lives through better budgeting, planning, and other tools to put them in a better place.
Want to learn how? Give me a call!