Financial coaching is gaining ground as a key ingredient in successful financial wellness programs.
Whether you’re planning to integrate a financial wellness technology solution or a full-on digital transformation effort, here are a few key considerations to keep in mind as you develop and document your proposed program.
What are your specific goals?
Are you focusing more on retaining current plans, winning new ones, or both? Will you be scaling existing services or adding new capabilities to increase revenue? Do you have pre-determined revenue goals you want to reach to justify the associated costs? What’s a realistic timeline for reaching them?
Document, document, document
Having a clear understanding of specific goals is necessary to make a plan for reaching them. It’s also important to document the current state of your organization across multiple areas to see where these intersect, and so that you can more easily create a technology roadmap to get you to your desired future state. Documenting both the current and future state will necessarily involve talking to all stakeholders involved in the digital transformation process. It’s important to identify who will be affected, at which points in the process, and then getting their input and perspective on what can be improved as well as potential pitfalls to avoid.
For example, if you are adding financial wellness technology as a way to scale your practice, will advisors need support in regard to sales and marketing, such as developing a new website, sales collateral or presentations? Is there legacy technology that will need to be integrated or replaced?
Determine your metrics for success and evaluate as you go
You can’t determine whether the program is succeeding if you haven’t decided how to assess it ahead of time. Having specific goals will help you know what success will look like for your program and your organization, and will determine how best to measure it. An effective financial wellness solution should assess actual results and positive financial behavior changes that provide employees with positive reinforcement while providing data to you.
However, financial outcomes may not be as readily apparent or quite as easy to quantify as health care and retirement benefits. So it’s even more important to be clear about how you plan to evaluate the program before implementing it. Realize that you will want to include both quantitative measures that show behavioral change, such as retirement contribution rates and 401k loan and hardship withdrawal rates, complemented by more qualitative data such as individual success stories. These can be considered mini case studies that can help inform ongoing adjustments to improve the program. It’s also important to evaluate a program periodically during its implementation, so that improvements can be made early on in the process to help the program be successful.
What does all this mean for our industry?
The good news is that the need for financial advice is going to be greater in the future than it is today, and the workplace is most likely to be where that happens for the majority of people. Financial wellness has become one of the most desirable perks employers can use to attract and retain top talent, and both plan sponsors and participants are asking for it.
To be successful, though, advisors will need to do more for their plan sponsor and wealth management clients and become even more sophisticated at what they do. Getting new clients is also going to more competitive and likely costlier. The right technology is the one that enables the overall business—and that’s what will distinguish success from failure. According to Questis President John Tabb, CFPⓇ, “ There’s a better way to help people achieve positive financial outcomes and more and more, it starts in the workplace. Successful advisors are going to be using financial wellness technology more effectively to reach more plan participants with relevant, personal information they can use, and use quickly. Banks are going to use financial wellness technology to build relationships and increase customer loyalty and assets. It’s possible for financial services to do well by doing good for their clients, and technology makes that not only possible, but scalable.”
For more on digital transformation and how you can help your firm do well by doing good, view our white paper.
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