Over the past several years I have noticed a growing convergence in the level of importance of financial fitness and physical fitness on behalf of both employees and employers. I have seen many fin-tech companies that provide a unique solution aimed at some component of personal finance get founded then subsequently get funded. Some are indeed brand new, some have been around for a number of years, but only now they are getting the attention of the public. They range from companies like www.unison.com which offer a very unique and beneficial way to either get your first home faster or access existing home equity more safely, to firms like www.payactiv.com which enable workers to access their pay immediately instead of relying on payday loans or delaying critical bills in times of need, and in fact announced their $20 million dollar B round investment today https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20181010005566/en/PayActiv-Raises-20-Million-Expand-Financial-Wellness
Since I have become aware of these firms and others that offer unique personal finance solutions, I have come to the conclusion that financial advisors and consumers alike will be well advised to get familiar with and actually opine on such novel and important solutions. Most advisors have at least a few clients that are in the “C” suite of companies. Advisors can add substantive value by advising their “C” level clients of the benefit of offering such services, notably in the “wellness” and resultant productivity of their employees. Countless research and surveys prove beyond doubt that the better the firm treat their employee, the better off the company will be in the long run. If you add in topics like social responsibility, morality or others areas of measure, it becomes clear the benefit. For consumers, bringing up these types of services to your employer is not only doing yourself a favor, but your fellow employees will be better off, and the circle of benefit continues as your employer improves.
So what has changed? Why this new move? For many decades almost all employers offered health plans which are now assumed as table-stakes for any company that has employees. The additional focus on financial fitness, I believe is partly due to the efforts of Human Resources professionals but recent research such as https://www.plansponsor.com/physical-mental-financial-wellness-viewed-equally-important/ prove out that employees view financial fitness equal to physical fitness. It is also intuitive, as if one thinks like a CEO and ponders how to improve your company, anything that can improve employees lives ought to be considered, of course weighing the budgetary constraints that have stopped this line of thinking in the past. But technology has driven costs down to enable programs to significant degree, so benefits that before were out of reach financially are now feasible for senior management to consider.
This convergence of helping employees in all manner financial and physical is called Wellness or in some companies Total Wellness. For the past several months I have been discussing financial wellness with executives of dozens of larger companies across manufacturing, software, service and transportation and the feedback I have received from these executives matches the recent research and is uniform: financial wellness is equally important to physical wellness. I have learned that some of these companies have fascinating ways of tying the two together, in one example, the company had an event where the employees went through a 401k “obstacle course” and those that got the questions correct at each “obstacle” got $400 deposited in their health savings account.
The big takeaway is that if you are an employee, your employer is now much more likely to embrace novel solutions to help you and your fellow employee. For financial advisors, there are many more opportunities to help your “C” level clients improve their companies and do good for others at the same time.