Financial wellness programs will be a top priority for employers in 2023 as workers struggle with rising prices and brace for a possible recession, many retirement plan advisers believe.
"Right now our conversations are much less about whether or not populations are on track for retirement and more about understanding how the populations are reacting to all the various challenges that are happening in the economy," said Joe DeBello, a vice president in the retirement and wealth division of OneDigital Investment Advisors in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Employees are worried about the rising cost of everything from orange juice to home heating fuel. "They're thinking about how they're going to put food on the table," Mr. DeBello said. "That's the real stuff that people are dealing with."
With inflation on the rise, credit card debt at an all-time high and personal savings at an all-time low, Mr. DeBello and other retirement plan advisers report a strong increase in employer demand for financial wellness programs, a trend they see continuing in 2023 as employers look for services to help their workforces navigate today's rough economic waters.
"I think employers are seeing headwinds for participants with inflation and rising interest rates and just more of a struggle for participants day to day," said Julie Braun, a financial adviser and corporate retirement director at Morgan Stanley in Colchester, Vt. "That's sparking more of the discussion of wellness that we weren't really seeing before."
Emily Wrightson, a principal at CAPTRUST Financial Advisors LLC in New York, is among the advisers reporting a surge in interest in financial wellness programs with many clients implementing the programs — or considering them — this year. "We have seen more than 30% year-over-year growth in new client onboardings, and we expect this trend to continue into 2023," she said, referring to the firm's financial wellness and advice offering.