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Financial wellness is the next benefit frontier for leading accounting practitioners

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By assisting employers with the creation and management of financial wellness programs for their employees, practitioners who offer wellness program services to their client employees have the opoportunity to carve a new niche service and expand their billing.

 

SunTrust Banks, Inc. has recently announced they are sponsoring an industry-leading workplace financial wellness program for companies with the not-for-profit program as part of its onUp movement to build financial confidence.

More than two dozen larger companies have already signed up and are introducing the program to their employees, including Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Equifax, McKee Foods, Waffle House, Haverty’s and 1-800 Contacts.

“More than 40 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and 75 percent report experiencing financial stress,” said Bill Rogers, chairman and CEO of SunTrust. “Progressive companies can improve overall wellness in America by offering a financial fitness program for their employees.”

Local accounting practitioners are well positioned to develop financial wellness programs for their clients as an additional revenue stream.

Local accounting practitioners are well positioned to develop financial wellness programs for their clients as an… Click To Tweet

A typical wellness program includes on-site sessions and online resources to help employees establish financial goals, start an emergency savings fund, navigate their expenses and spending habits, and take steps toward financial wellness.

Of those surveyed following the program:

  • Employees living by a budget increased from 43 percent to 87 percent, and those with an emergency savings improved from 68 percent to 98 percent;
  • Employees increased their investment contributions for retirement by 35 percent;
  • More than 99 percent would recommend the program to others.

SunTrust purchased the intellectual property of a leading employee program and hired the company’s founder, financial expert Brian Ford, to build their Momentum onUp® curriculum. The program inspires, educates and equips employees for healthy financial management.

Their program does not include advertisements or sales in the curriculum; rather, the program is a way to help employees on their way to Financial Well-Being.

Many similar programs are available through vendor members of SHRM (Society for Human Resources Management) or advertisers in HREOnline (Human Resources Executive Online). Or, practitioners can use their existing resources to develop their own program.

The response from companies that offer Financial Wellness programs to their employees has been positive:

“We’ve had terrific feedback from our associates about this program. It’s a great way for us to put more power behind the great financial benefits we already offer,” said Scott Smith, vice president of Human Resources at Home Depot.

“Giving Equifax employees the tools and resources they need to be at their financial best is in complete alignment with our company’s commitment to providing businesses and consumers with the knowledge they need to make sound financial decisions,” said Rick Smith, chairman and CEO of Equifax.

“At 1-800 Contacts, we firmly believe that by taking care of our associates, they, in turn, will take care of our customers. We have witnessed firsthand how this program has positively impacted our associates’ lives, personally and professionally,” said Rod Lacey, chief people officer of 1-800 Contacts.

Mike McKee, president & CEO of McKee Foods Corporation, said: “In the same way that we seek to foster good work/life balance, enriching professional development and a commitment to their health and wellness, Momentum onUp® gives us a valuable resource that not only helps our people understand where their financial life is today, but also lets them put a stake in the ground for their family’s future.”

“We are excited to partner with SunTrust to offer this resource to empower our restaurant managers,” said Lindsay Westcott, vice president of culture and training at Waffle House. “We feel if our managers are personally and financially successful, this will carry over professionally. The versatility of the tool is appealing to all generations and our diverse workforce.”

SunTrust first piloted their program to 15,000 of their own employees, where more than 80 percent of those completing the program report feeling in greater control of their finances. SunTrust matched up to $1,000 for its teammates to help build their emergency savings as part of the program. The company also gives all teammates an extra day off each year to focus on their personal finances, as well as a day to volunteer in an activity that builds financial confidence in their communities.

For the employer, staff morale is increased and turnover is reduced. For the practitioner, this is a new service that lends itself to increased revenue and may be bundled with an existing payroll service.

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Kirk

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