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How to Utilize Technology Tools to Boost Financial Wellness

/// Posted by Holly Knight

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Stress is likely the largest contributor of health issues and loss of productivity at the workplace in America—and an estimated 84% of stress is derived from financial problems. That equates to huge financial ramifications for businesses of all sizes. A recently conducted Salary Finance survey found that American businesses are losing as much as 500-billion-dollars a year due to personal employee financial stress. That isn’t just alarming, it’s a national crisis that requires bold, proactive change to address it. Luckily, some of the tools to shift how our employees confront and work through personal financial stress already exist—all that’s missing is the focus and directive to know how to use them.

The concept of Financial Wellness is rightly gaining organizational attention in the wake of these findings, and many employees, particularly in some of the younger, less established generational demographics, are hungry to more proactively address the topic. Historically, many financial wellness options that are offered at businesses are opt-in, reactive, and self-service oriented programs that lack educational support or structured engagement. On average, employee end-user utilization of such programs is only between 1-2%. We have to do better.    

As the Director of Retirement Outcomes, working with our corporate clients and their workforce of employees, I’m a Behavioral Finance mentor as much as I’m an educator. By approaching financial wellness from a holistic and humanistic vantage, I’m able to work directly with employees and HR professionals to better understand the foundation of their financial decisions and how they best interact with financial learning. It’s hard for employees to talk about tomorrow’s retirement planning if ‘today’s planning’ isn’t going well, so looking at the whole picture is required. Are employees more emotional or analytical in how they approach financial choices? Are they more ‘life goals’ or ‘returns’ focused when they interact with their planning?

Only by understanding the motivations and preferred engagement approach of end-users can an advisor successfully interact with them in a way that delivers content to meaningfully change behavior. Technology tools are driving much of the necessary change in this field, making it an exciting time to be engaged in financial wellness. But technology tools alone are not enough as the paltry engagement rate of many programs highlights—behavioral change needs commitment and accountability to hold end-user attention. Today, more than ever, individual bandwidth is limited, and the time spent on any topic needs to be directed and proactively useful to capture attention.

In my experience, a successful financial wellness program needs certain elements:

  • It needs to be technology driven
  • It needs to gamify the learning process
  • It needs to be flexible enough to be focused or group oriented as needed
  • It needs a structured platform of guidance and incentivization
  • Must be bigger, more holistic in scope than just retirement planning and it must include every aspect of a person’s financial life

Luckily, there are already a number of good existing programs that offer these parameters. At Sapers & Wallack, we’ve partnered with WellCents to deliver all of this and more to our financial wellness clients. I’ve found this program, which includes financial wellness assessments, group workshops, one-on-one meetings, customized action plans and employer reporting systems, to offer the easily maneuverable and scalable outreach options to enact genuine engagement. Along with proactive guidance, this program has already been shown to yield a 35-75% utilization by end-users for the clients we work with. This is already a game changer, and we’re just getting started.

As a bit of a data geek, I am always looking for quantitative trends and ways to measure success. The engagement numbers and reported benefits to productivity, employee happiness and retention, and even overall health from our WellCents program involvement are very encouraging, but there is still a long way to go. With the growing numbers of receptive Millennial and Gen-Z employees in the workforce, adoption of more progressive, hands-on initiatives, like WellCents, can begin to foster and support financial wellness before stress consumes a company culture.

It feels like we’re in the midst of a paradigm shift in how we view and interact with our personal finances, with massive economic and health ramifications in the balance. It’s an exciting time to be involved in the current evolution of financial wellness in corporate America, and I’m encouraged by the tools we have to work with and early results of what we can deliver using them.

To read more about WellCents, visit: www.mywellcents.com

And to reach out with your thoughts or needs for financial wellness planning, send me an email at: hknight@sapers-wallack.com  

With the benefit of the past year in hindsight, it’s safe to say that most everyone has learned some lessons from the pandemic about planning for the unexpected. Both businesses and individual financial outlooks have been dramatically affected by the months of uncertainty and shutdown, with short-term risk mitigation and long-term planning for the next “black swan” event top of mind like never before. 

The importance of risk preparation and having emergency funds on hand have come into stark focus in my retirement practice. I’ve helped many clients wrestle with the sudden losses and constraints placed on nest eggs and retirement accounts by the months of lost income and financial upheaval. As a general rule, the older and more established you are financially, the bigger hit you have likely taken from the pandemic.

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Scott Tuxbury, Vice President and Leader for the Retirement and Wealth Management Practices at Sapers & Wallack answers  questions about our May blog, Contributing to an emergency Savings Account Through Payroll Deduction.

 

Why Wealth Management at Sapers & Wallack?

/// Posted by Andrew MacDougall

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As one of the newest members of the Sapers & Wallack team, I thought this a good way to introduce myself and explain why I am so excited to join this company as the new Director of Wealth Management. I have been in the financial services field for over fifteen years now ranging from getting MBA at Northeastern University with a concentration in investments, working at the largest Corporate & Investment Bank in JPMorgan to most recently working as a Managing Director of Wealth Management at an RIA firm here in Boston. What struck me is the varied approach to client service across the industry.

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Podcast Q&A: Why Wealth Management at Sapers & Wallack?

/// Posted by Andrew MacDougall

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Andrew MacDougall answers questions about our April blog, Why Wealth Management at Sapers & Wallack?

How to Build Your Network

/// Posted by Evan Macedo

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For many businesses, and certainly throughout the insurance and financial services fields, the process of meeting new people and expanding our professional networks is key to success. Though this past year has put a serious damper on the traditional ability to shake hands and build new relationships, avenues still exist for making connections and many of the principles for best practice in networking remain the same.

As someone who is still in the relatively early stages of my career, I take an active role in network building and relationship maintenance, regarding it as a fundamental aspect of my job. While I don’t claim to be a guru on the subject, I can relate some tips and techniques that have worked for me as I proactively try to expand my reach and connection base before, during, and after the pandemic.

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Podcast Q&A: How to Build Your Network

/// Posted by Evan Macedo

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Evan Macedo, Vice President Finance & Operations at Sapers & Wallack, and Jeffrey Davis, Chairman and CEO at Mage LLC, answer questions about our March blog, How to Build Your Network.

 

Estate Planning To-Do-List – No Matter What Stage of Life You Are At

/// Posted by Kristen Maalouf

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I have worked in the financial services industry with life insurance products and estate planning for over 25 years, and in that time, I have had the opportunity to help many families file policy claims as they settle the estates of loved ones. I have seen first-hand the importance of the deceased having a financial plan in place for their families, just as I have helped others navigate the difficulties of not having a secure financial strategy to build on. 

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Kristen Maalouf, Executive Assistant of C-Suite Financial Services at Sapers & Wallack answers questions about our February blog, “Estate Planning To-Do-List – No Matter What Stage of Life You Are At”.

Regardless of your financial situation, for most of us, saving the right amount of money for retirement can be difficult. Establishing sources of replacement income that will allow you to consistently maintain your expected lifestyle after your working years often requires careful planning, financial discipline, and if those are not attainable, some creative solutions.  

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