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PANC 2017: Financial Wellness

There seems to be no consensus on a definition of the trendy term, but plan advisers can create their own business model for offering a ‘financial wellness’ program.

By Rebecca Moore | October 19, 2017
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Starting off her panel, Thursday, Day 2, of the 2017 PLANADVISER National Conference (PANC), moderator Brea Dantin, a principal and retirement plan adviser at ProCourse Fiduciary Advisors LLC, said most retirement plan participants want financial wellness, and this is why advisers need to take note. “If you don’t offer it, your competition will. If you’re not talking about it, your competitions is,” she told attendees.

All panelists agreed there is no single, common definition for financial wellness. Michael Domingos, vice president, national corporate strategy and distribution at Prudential Retirement, said advisers have actually been in the financial wellness business, using the term loosely, for a long time, but the industry is at the beginning of a new phase. “Look at physical wellness; years ago, it was a fad, and we didn’t know if it was going to stick,” he said. “But, today, physical wellness programs are very real, with most producing outcomes for employees and employers.”

Jon Shuman, national sales manager, workplace solutions, at MassMutual, added that the reason wellness programs have worked with health care is there is a return on investment (ROI) that shows employees and employers save on health costs. Advisers should have a definition of financial wellness ROI of their own, for lack of a standard one, he said. For example, if participants are able to retire on time with adequate income, you have shown an ROI for financial wellness programs.

According to Nathan Voris, managing director, strategy, at Charles Schwab & Co. Inc., for 30 years advisers have offered articles about college savings, budgeting, etc. But doing that without tying it into a specific strategy for participants is ineffective. However, he believes the lack of a common definition of financial wellness is good. “The way we do it is to look at data and figure out problems, then figure out solutions,” he said. “The solutions could range from helping participants set up emergency savings to setting up a trust for heirs, and anything in between.”

A survey of panel attendees showed 75% of them offer financial wellness programs, but 61% are just winging it, as far as a particular strategy.

NEXT: A financial wellness business model