Including Family in Financial Wellness Conversations

Retirement plan participants’ financial stress includes commitments to their spouses, children and parents.

By Lee Barney | March 01, 2017
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Retirement plan sponsors are increasingly turning to financial wellness programs to help educate their employees about financial basics, such as budgeting and reducing debt, as well as eliminating financial stress factors that could be major distractions at work.

A recent survey by Virgin Pulse found 28% of workers said financial concerns distract them from obligations at work.

Retirement plan advisers realize that participants are not just concerned about their retirement goals, but a host of financial obligations to their family. Thus, if their advisers offer one-on-one sessions with participants, plan sponsors may want to ensure that advisers gain insight into participants’ complete family obligations and goals.

“My view of financial planning has always been holistic,” says Billy Lanter, fiduciary investment adviser at United Trust Company in Lexington, Kentucky. “It’s a little bit harder with retirement plans because the number of participants who seek out advice is not as high as it is in the high-net-worth space, but anytime I have a one-on-one conversation with a participant, I bring up their spouse, their kids and their parents, and how their needs relate to them and impact their goals.”

Joe Duran, chief executive officer of United Capital in Newport Beach, California, agrees, saying he believes that taking a person’s family into consideration “is an imperative. Most individuals’ financial plan will fail because of unintended liabilities that they were not aware of—their parents not having health insurance and getting sick, the distant cousin expecting them to pay for their college education, or the child who decides to go to graduate school. All of these responsibilities have a massive impact on a person’s financial life.”

When Sandra Goodstein, managing director and senior financial adviser with Wescott Financial Advisory Group in Philadelphia begins working with clients, she asks them what impact other family members will have on their finances.

NEXT: What, exactly, to discuss