Philip White decided the best way to improve financial wellness among employees at Rackspace Hosting Inc., San Antonio, was to customize a program himself rather than rely on a one-size-fits-all approach from a single provider.
Inquiries to banks and other financial services providers didn't yield the holistic approach that Mr. White wanted for his company's $80 million 401(k) plan. “They would talk about what they could do for their silo (of expertise), but they weren't answering the questions asked by all of our participants,” Mr. White said.
For his efforts, Mr. White earned an Innovator Award in the financial wellness category.
Necessity was the mother of invention, said Mr. White, whose corporate title is director of Racker Rewards. (Employees are called Rackers.)
His recipe for delivering financial wellness features a “financial fitness challenge,” provided by financial education firm Educated Investor, San Diego, and financial counseling offered internally by a certified financial planner. It also contains web- and mobile-based spending and account balance tracking tools developed by HelloWallet, Washington, which offers a financial wellness scorecard that includes, among other things, individuals' retirement savings, insurance costs and debt.
“We might have gotten to a comprehensive solution from a single provider, but it would have taken too long,” Mr. White said. “Integrated offerings can be expensive.”
Creating a customized financial wellness program also provided Rackspace with flexibility instead of being tied to one company's products and services, he added.
Mr. White said he began reviewing the company's efforts in 2010 following several employee surveys and anecdotal discussions that demonstrated employees wanted a more comprehensive approach to retirement readiness.
By 2012 he had created a corporate brand, Rackwealth, to encompass multiple elements of financial wellness. Mr. White said the brand was designed to present employees with a unified message: “We are here to help you navigate the financial maze.”
Rackspace began offering the financial planning component in January, the HelloWallet service in March and the financial fitness challenge in April.
The company has held financial education meetings for employees at its headquarters, and it has used Skype, mobile devices and the Internet to spread the message to employees in remote locations.
“This multichannel approach was well thought out,” wrote one Innovator Award judge, praising the use of technology “to help reach participants broadly, but also to keep things at an individual and personalized level.”
Mr. White said he's looking at other services such as paid guidance sessions and debt consolidation assistance.