T. Rowe Price’s latest research, What Financial Professionals Think About Financial Wellness, was conducted in conjunction with Duke University’s Common Cents behavioral finance lab and financial wellness provider Retiremap. It offers both a qualitative and quantitative view into how financial professionals think about—and differentiate with—financial wellness programs.
The research uncovered three key themes when it comes to financial professionals' perceptions about financial wellness programs:
1. Financial Wellness is a differentiator and business builder
2. There is opportunity to expand the reach of wellness beyond just basic and financial topics
3. Financial wellness solutions may work best using a range of tactics and resources
1. Business Builder and Differentiator
Differentiating is important—especially amid fee compression—and many financial professionals seek to do so through financial wellness.
I think it (financial wellness) shows greater understanding and a more robust service offering that tends to only be offered by the more specialized teams.
Top reasons financial professionals are offering financial wellness:
1. Innovative and compelling way to broaden my value proposition
2. Capture of rollover IRA assets, additional investment opportunities
3. Differentiates my practice versus other financial professionals
4. That’s where the industry is headed
2. Topics Covered: Getting Beyond the Basics
The perception is that programs address only foundational financial skills.
We want to help participants with other things they are concerned about. When we do that, they are more productive employees and more valuable to the companies that are our clients. It helps the participant, the company, and our business.
According to financial professionals, the top four topics that financial wellness programs address:
The reality is that financial wellness can have varying levels of sophistication.
Implications for Financial Professionals
- When advocating for wellness programs, don’t sell them short. Employers may be willing to listen to (and pay for) programs that have broader applicability across their work force.
- This approach may be especially beneficial for financial professionals who have proprietary financial wellness programs.
3. How Best to Deploy It
Personal interactions and coaching helps drive results—but they can be very hard to scale. Technology, on the other hand, may scale well but is more challenging to personalize. A robust financial wellness program may combine the two to balance resources with effectiveness.
…[W]here the rubber meets the road is one-on-one counseling. That is where you see action. Whether that is sitting down with a person or having a conference call.
Top methods of implementing a financial wellness program, based on percentage of time financial professionals rated each as a top-five method:
1. In-person, education-based group meetings
2. Apps to monitor finances and track accounts
3. Solutions to automatically manage income and cash flow
4. Short, prescriptive steps to achieve in set time frames
Implications for Financial Professionals
- While some providers base their program on one primary method of deployment (for example, a high touch vs. a high tech solution), other providers use a combination of methods.
- Explore different wellness providers with our Program Evaluator.
- Use our Considerations for Selecting a Provider to as a guide to formulate an RFP when it comes time to vet one or two providers.
Discover More and Get the Tools You Need Through Our Financial Wellness Insights
Two Sides of Financial Wellness
Understand how successful financial wellness programs offer financial and nonfinancial benefits to both employers and employees.
Measuring Financial Wellness Program Effectiveness
Help sponsors set appropriate goals for their particular workforces—and identify success metrics that properly align with the established objectives.
Sources: What Financial Professionals Think About Financial Wellness. T. Rowe Price, Retiremap; Duke University Common Cents Lab, 2017. Qualitative research was conducted with 22 financial professionals, averaging 17.75 years of defined contribution experience. Quantitative research was conducted with 300 financial professionals, averaging 11–15 years of defined contribution experience and managing an average of 55 plans.