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Cliff York, BP PLC

Program puts health care on same level as financial goals

Cliff York strives to make sure participants are healthy enough to enjoy retirement.

Cliff York believes wealth means health — and vice versa — especially when it comes to retirement savings.

As head of pensions and benefits, Americas, for BP PLC, the Houston-based Mr. York has assembled a financial wellness program that links financial and health-care wellness. It covers five qualified savings plans, 25,000 employees and their spouses or partners, and 17,000 pre-Medicare retirees and their spouses or partners.

The goal is to increase awareness and participation for both concepts of wellness, Mr. York explained. "We've had financial education over the years, and it's very good, but getting people engaged is the difficulty," he said.

One engagement lure is a program that rewards participants for achieving certain financial education goals such as taking brief courses on savings or personal finance matters, taking a financial wellness assessment and talking to a financial adviser.

The reward is an accumulation of wellness points to be used for a company health plan. If participants reach a certain point level they can choose an alternative, such as a PPO, to BP's high-deductible health plan.

Mr. York's efforts impressed judges, who gave him an Award of Excellence. "Implementing a holistic approach and integrating other company benefits provides a comprehensive improvement of financial and physical wellness," one judge wrote.

"This is an extremely comprehensive and well-thought-out program that touches on many aspects of financial planning," another judge wrote. " It is very impressive to see how the 'wellness' concept can be brought to financial wellness."

Although BP conducts a financial wellness campaign annually, the 2016 version added new courses such as "Using Your Health Savings Account Effectively" and "Kids & Money." This year, BP added four courses, including one on in-plan Roth conversions and another examining retirement income withdrawal strategies. There are now 19 courses.

In addition to the courses, participants can take part in a "financial fitness assessment" offered by PricewaterhouseCoopers International Ltd. and engaging in a "coaching call" with a PwC representative, who is not a fiduciary. PwC does not sell or endorse financial products.Participants age 45 and over are encouraged to take a PwC retirement readiness assessment. "The earlier people think about retirement, the better," Mr. York said.