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Financial Fitness for Life (FF4L) Leadership: ‘Our Solution Empowers Employees to Take Control of their Financial Lives’

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“Our technology platform allows us to determine an employee’s risk tolerance, whether they are on track for retirement, and their level of lifetime income.”

It is no secret that financial stress has a significant impact on mental health, productivity, turnover, and absenteeism in the workplace. By some estimates, pre-pandemic financial stress costs US businesses upwards of $500 billion per year. According to PwC’s 2020 Financial Wellness Survey, lost productivity, turnover and other factors related to stress cost the average company between 11-14 percent of their total payroll expense.

Since March of 2020, there is growing evidence that COVID-19 has a serious and constant impact on employee’s mental health, further exacerbating the financial impact on employers’ bottom lines. The American Journal of Managed Care estimates that nearly seven in 10 employees feel the COVID-19 pandemic is the most stressful time of their entire professional career. Eighty-eight percent of workers reported experiencing moderate to extreme stress over the past couple of months. Among those reporting stress, 62 percent noted losing at least one hour a day in productivity, and 32 percent lost at least two hours a day. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) confirms that financial stress, now aggravated by COVID-19, is the leading cause of lost productivity, unplanned absences, lower job performance, and greater distractions among employees.

There is a measurable incentive for employers to think more broadly about how to take positive actions around the health and wellbeing of their workforce, and are increasingly turning towards financial wellness solutions. While helping employees feel better about their finances is a good place to start, improving financial behaviors is the ultimate goal that can help employees reach lasting financial security and help employers reduce costs related to financial stress. Many financial services companies claim to offer a solution; some offer little more than platitudes, sleep-inducing content, and online calculators.

Employers that embrace financial wellness solutions can see a payoff in retention, performance, well-being, and healthcare costs.

When financial wellness is connected to organizational and human capital goals as well as an organization’s culture and mission, it can have a measurable impact on an organization’s bottom line.

In light of the foregoing, we’re thrilled to present Financial Fitness for Life (FF4L) — a company that provides embedded services including robust participant education, unbiased underlying investments, and plans health analytics as well as an ERISA 3(38) offering designed to provide plan sponsors with fiduciary protection.

The company was incorporated in 2018 and is headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas.

Glenn Spencer & Christian Mango, AIFA®, Fiduciary Investment Trust CEO & President respectively, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Explain your customized financial services in brief, Mr. Spencer.

Q. FF4L is a comprehensive financial wellness solution that couples in-person financial wellness coaching with best-in-class technology.

We improve the lives of employees by meeting them where they are, understanding their unique financial situation, and providing on-going financial coaching to help them take the steps, big or small, that they are comfortable taking.

In addition to this, we increase the employer’s profitability by improving the productivity and overall well-being of their employees. We enhance the organizational culture within the company by building bonds beyond today’s work environment.

Moreover, we improve the plan advisors’ practices by allowing them to scale financial wellness, differentiate their practice, and deliver the highest value to their clients.

Q. In recent years, several software programs have been developed to make investing easy for consumers. How do you effectively leverage technology to provide exemplary services,  Mr. Mango?thesiliconreview-christian-mango-president-financial-fitness-for-life-ff4l-21

By coupling that in-person financial coaching with best-in-class technology, we’re better able to scale our financial wellness solution to automate processes, simplify workloads, and reach more people. Our technology platform allows us to provide on-going actionable employee engagement through digital nudges and just-in-time messaging to track employee progress and success. Our data analytics allows us to survey the employee base and aggregate data to identify key stressors employees are experiencing, the gap between employer benefits and employee needs, and help employers make better decisions about their employees in general and their benefits spend.

Q. Mr. Spencer, how do you develop different financial strategies to help your clients achieve their financial goals? Do you provide tailor-made services/develop tailor-made courses?

Based on our years of experience and extensive research, we know that the best way to get employees to take action, change behavior, and create good financial habits is through in-person coaching. Meeting participants where they are, in-person or through a virtual meeting technology, and developing a level of trust is what separates us from our competitors. It is important to engage with the company at the very beginning of our partnership to establish company goals, best communication practices, designate a program champion and location ambassadors, and understand the dynamics of their employees. Once we have determined the best approach for our wellness program, we then get personal feedback from each of the employees we meet with during every interaction to understand how to best provide them with education, and what category of education we should be equipping them with. Our financial wellness solution empowers employees to take control of their financial lives, by helping them establish long-term goals, calculate their retirement needs, establish retirement accounts and emergency funds, display appropriate investment responses to market fluctuations, and have greater retirement confidence. 

Q. Mr. Mango, how do you manage to understand your client’s financial history in-depth to strategize a financial wellness solution?

Having an in-depth view of an employee’s overall financial situation is critical to understanding their unique financial needs, designing a personalized education plan, and getting them to take action. Our technology platform allows us to determine an employee’s risk tolerance, whether they are on track for retirement and their level of lifetime income. Through our financial inventory questionnaire, we are further able to help employees aggregate their financial accounts, establish action steps, and ultimately personalize an education plan. This allows our coaches to provide on-going and actionable financial coaching.

Q. Other players are specializing in financial wellness programs. How do you stand out from the rest, Mr. Spencer?

Financial wellness solutions have rapidly become popular with employers. While many financial services companies claim to offer a solution, some offer little more than platitudes, sleep-inducing content, and some online calculators. In looking at the myriad of solutions it’s important to distinguish technology-only solutions that merely provide written or video education with calculators from those that offer truly personalized advice from a live financial coach.

At the highest level, there are three methodologies for delivering financial wellness solutions to plan participants:

  • Technology-Based Solutions -- This refers to the use of financial technology (fintech) alone; deploying a fintech solution to participants and relying on them to engage. This is generally done with a fairly significant degree of written communication and instructions.
  • Technology with a Phone Bank -- This involves some form of technology with telephonic support that is inbound responsive, placing outbound calls, or a combination of both approaches.
  • Face-to-Face Education Services -- This involves having qualified financial coach/educators/consultants meeting with groups of employees and one-on-one.

Technology and auto-feature-based programs are just not personalized enough to sustain engagement and motivate employees to improve their financial well-being. The ability for employees to have access to personalized coaching in person or by phone, video call, or chat and email is critical to increasing employee engagement and changing financial behaviors.

“By coupling in-person financial coaching with best-in-class technology, FF4L can scale its financial wellness solutions, deliver a consistently high level of service, and ultimately reach more people.”