As defined contribution executives and record keepers add and refine plan design features to improve participants' retirement savings, they also are offering programs whose impact may be harder to measure than bigger balances, greater deferrals and investment diversification.
"It's a war for talent," said David Stinnett, principal and head of the strategic retirement consulting group at Vanguard Group Inc., Malvern, Pa., echoing comments from other researchers and consultants on the value of financial wellness programs. "Wellness is the most popular topic they are talking to us about."
Personal budgeting management, student loan assistance, credit card debt, health savings accounts and emergency savings are just some of the subjects that fall under the broad umbrella term of financial wellness, a service that employers say is important and necessary especially due to the economic turmoil since early 2020.
"COVID was a catalyst for some employers, but financial wellness was a trend before COVID," said David O'Meara, the New York-based director of investments for Willis Towers Watson PLC, referring to sponsors' willingness to add or expand financial wellness programs.