The first source of financial advice for nearly 65% of U.S. workers is their 401(k) plan provider, according to a survey by T. Rowe Price.
The top three objectives for advice that workers were seeking are:
- Saving for retirement outside of the workplace retirement plan (74%).
- Saving to fund health care expenses in retirement (74%).
- Saving in the workplace retirement plan (71%).
The results of the study show how much value employees put on their retirement plans and how active they really are in trying to secure a sound financial future for themselves. With the stresses of rising costs, particularly health care expenses, many workers are having trouble managing their regular finances as well.
Offering both a 401(k) plan as well as some financial wellness services as part of your voluntary benefits package can go a long way to helping them become better stewards of their finances.
In the T. Rowe Price survey, typically, workers were asking for assistance in choosing investments and trying to calculate how much they should save. They also were seeking advice on tracking their savings.
What Employees Are Looking For
Ideally, your plan should have a number of different channels for seeking advice. And different generations seem to have different preferences for consuming advice. For example:
- Millennials who were surveyed said they would like advice that is accessible on their mobile phones.
- Generation X wants advice services that fit into their busy schedules.
- Baby boomers want advice that is easy to use.
- 64% of millennials say they rely on digital tools and calculators either somewhat or a great deal, while this is true for only 55% of Generation X and 42% of boomers.
Workers were also looking for more financial wellness services as concerns over their retirement and ability to pay for future medical care weigh heavily on them. Consider:
- 64% of workers said that reducing debt is a major or minor financial objective where advice could be useful.
- 75% said credit card balances are their highest form of debt.
- 65% said that having an emergency fund is a major or minor financial objective where advice could be useful.
- 56% said that managing and budgeting day-to-day expenses is a major or minor financial objective where advice could be useful.
- 17% said they always or often have difficulty paying their monthly bills.
What you can do
“As individuals juggle many financial goals, their need for financial advice has grown, and we see many turning to their retirement provider for that guidance,” said Aimee DeCamillo, head of T. Rowe Price Retirement Plan Services Inc.
“The availability of financial wellness programs alongside a retirement plan is more important than ever. Employers can support this growing need by offering access to educational resources, greatly influencing not just the retirement readiness of their employees but their overall financial health as well,” she added.
Financial wellness plans take a number of approaches, from helping with student loan repayment to setting up an emergency fund and budgeting. The goal of offering these plans is to minimize your employees’ financial stress and boost workplace productivity.
Financial wellness plans may include:
Financial education – This education should go beyond just retirement planning. It needs to encompass a number of components like retiree health care, Medicare education, investment management, asset-allocation instruction and retirement financial planning.
Digital platforms – There are a number of websites and apps that can help your staff with cash-flow management and that include retirement or savings calculators, and more.
Financial coaching – This is different from a financial adviser or planner. A financial coach is more focused on the basics of finances and addressing financial habits.
Debt management – This usually focuses on student loans. There are some options for student loan repayment assistance that come at little or no cost to the employer. These plans will often work with a lending or refinancing partner to reduce the overall loan repayment burden on your workers.
Investment advisers – These licensed operators can provide advice to those workers who are already diligent about socking away funds. The ones who benefit from this offering may already have an emergency fund and little or no debt, combined with home ownership.