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Giving financial wellness its due recognition

Money is a limited resource in companies and households. Defined contribution plan sponsor executives have recognized that financial demands other than retirement need to be tackled so that they don't derail retirement savings.

DC plans are increasingly spending their resources to examine the financial issues that keep their participants from being able to save adequately for retirement, so for the first time this year Pensions & Investments' Eddy Awards specifically recognized a new category of campaigns — those focused on overall financial wellness topics.

After presenting Eddy Awards for more than 20 years to recognize efforts to educate and motivate participants to save for retirement, it became clear that the field needed expansion.

The inaugural class of 12 financial wellness winners recognized the importance of making financial education a constant in people's lives. They focused on teaching how life events like marriage, divorce, children and more can affect savings; how to use health savings accounts and Roth 401(k) plans; how to be responsible with credit; and the importance of having an emergency savings account.

ERISA requires fiduciaries to protect plan assets, but the recognition that participants are focused not only on retirement is an important trend the growth of which should pay benefits in years to come.