Crises are always nasty reminders of fundamental truths which are easy to forget in the best of times and are a wakeup call in the worst of times. Financial wellness is easy to take for granted in times of rising financial markets and full employment, like before COVID-19. Complacency can easily set in and only gets revealed during and after a crisis. It’s time to look at financial wellness afresh.
Well before COVID-19, Financial Wellness had been a growing concern. In 2019, during which time we enjoyed a relatively solid economy, peaking financial markets and record low unemployment, more not less employees were stressed about their finances than ever before! PwC’s 8th Annual 2019 Employee Financial Wellness Survey, PwC US, 2019, reveals this with responses from 1,600+ full-time employees. What most caught my attention was:
- “More employees than ever are admitting to being stressed about their finances … 67%”
- “More employees cite financial matters than any other life stressor combined … 59%”
- “44% of employees believe their employer cares about their financial well-being and 81% of Millenials, 75% of Gen X and 52% of Baby Boomers are more likely to be attracted to another company that cares more about their financial well-being.”
- When offered by their employer, 71% of employees say they have used assistance with personal finances, and yet only 24% of employers offer such services, helping employees Prepare for retirement; Get spending under control; Pay off debt; Save more for major goals (purchases, home, education); Better manage investments/asset allocation; Better manage healthcare expenses/save for future healthcare expenses.
- “As a society, we’re becoming more digital every day, and that trend has extended into financial wellness programs where helpful online tools and robo-advisors abound. Yet the majority of employees tell us that when it comes to getting help with their personal finances, they want to make their own decisions and have a person with whom they can validate their choices. Employees crave the element of human connection. Successful financial wellness programs find the optimal way to shape the relationship between technology and human interaction, delivering the motivation employees need to achieve their goals.”
Of course, the situation has become a lot more acute during COVID-19 with unemployment spiking, unprecedented volatility in the financial markets and ongoing uncertainty about the economy.
In the face of such volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (“VUCA” – find out more: Navigating Uncertainty: Hope is Not a Strategy) it would be very easy to lapse into analysis paralysis and hoping for the best. But hope is not a strategy. Financial education, practice, discipline, prudent risk management and continuous learning, support and community are a strategy!
That’s what employees are increasingly wanting and asking for from their employers as mentioned in the PwC study above, “the optimal way to shape the relationship between technology and human interaction, delivering the motivation employees need to achieve their goals”
As we emerge from COVID-19, I invite you to ponder 3 key questions:
- What will you do in support of the financial wellness of your employees? The research data suggest it can have real productivity, loyalty, and retention benefits. Help empower your employees to start taking positive steps to navigate their financial future with less stress.
- What will you do in support of your own financial wellness? Of course, managers, executives, CEOs, and owners are not immune from similar stresses.
- How will you prevent history from repeating itself? The tendency is for history to repeat itself. As we emerged from the carnage of the great recession, the majority of people likely had great intentions to not leave themselves vulnerable like that again, to get educated and take some real actions to diversify their financial wellness. Yet probably only a minority followed through and the majority are experiencing a sense of deja-vue all over again. Don’t let that happen again.
For More Than 20 years
This has been our passionate purpose at Online Trading Academy for more than 20 years, nationwide and internationally, with an evolving curriculum, learning environments on-location and on-line and technology platforms. We are dedicated to helping the financial markets be more inclusive through trading and investing education, for those who have the financial resources to do so.
We have a relentless commitment to continually invest in leveling the playing field between Wall Street and Main Street, by lowering barriers to entry: the educational barriers to entry, the self-confidence barriers to entry, and the technological barriers to entry.
We are very pleased to be Announcing our New Strategic Investor Program for financial wellness.