What’s the ROI on Financial Wellness?

One of the hottest trends in retirement is financial wellness — but what does that mean, and what difference could it make to your practice?

A best-practice financial wellness program begins with recognizing that different groups of workers have different needs, says Annamaria Lusardi, academic director of the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center at The George Washington University School of Business in Washington, D.C. “It is very important to have a holistic approach,” Lusardi says. A superficial program “might be the equivalent to giving aspirin to somebody who has pneumonia.”

What the crowded field of providers now promoting their financial wellness programs offer, and what they seek to accomplish, varies a lot. “You have so many different organizations promoting themselves as ‘financial wellness’ providers. It’s an extremely overused term at this point,” says Liz Davidson, CEO of El Segundo, California-based Financial Finesse. “It’s a very nebulous term at this point. It needs a lot more definition and clarity.”

As advisor Jamie Greenleaf says, “The question is: What is ‘financial wellness’? Because everybody defines it differently.” Currently, she says, many companies offer off-the-shelf financial wellness programs that may or may not help a particular employer’s workforce.

“The problem today is there are providers trying to ‘package’ a program that really has to be customized to the client,” she says. “I wonder sometimes if the industry is making financial wellness a marketable piece, but it’s really not solving the problem.”

Read more from the Winter 2015 Issue of NAPA Net the Magazine.

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