Advisers should look to financial wellness education as the next frontier in providing valuable services to the broader client community.
Financial wellness in simple terms is about helping individuals adopt behaviours that move them towards greater financial security. This means providing people with tools to get on top of their everyday finances, achieve goals that are important to them and protect them against key risks that may impact their security.
We live in a society where there are increasing demands on our resources, we generally have taken on higher levels of debt to maintain our desired lifestyles and are less prepared to give up or wait for some of our desired events or purchases. Many individuals lack the basic skills and motivation to take that first step towards financial freedom and confidence. And this is where employers can step in.
A recent ifa article referred to the opportunity that exists citing research that 58 per cent of working Australians want access to support resources in this area, but only 14 per cent of employers provide these currently.
There is a sizeable opportunity for employers who provide a measurable and integrated wellness education program for staff to become more successful at staff engagement and build a more productive workforce. A recent survey we conducted showed that 67 per cent of participants in our programs were not very confident at inception of the programs that they had their own financial matters under control. For most categories of financial wellness, less than 15 per cent were very confident at inception that they had matters under control. What a great opportunity to make a difference.
Leading and progressive organisations that we work with are seeing the benefits. With numerous research reports suggesting that employees spend, on average, three or more work hours a week dealing with financial matters, these organisations understand the strong connection between mental health and wellness and the stressors connected to managing financial affairs on a daily basis.
By investing in their staff and their broader financial wellness, they are not only building a more vibrant and safer workplace, they are offering their employees real solutions to counter the demands of work, family and life interests by having tailored programs onsite, which overcomes a key barrier to taking action. It is just more convenient.
I have seen the magic happen first-hand. Where people over the course of a program transform their mental state and approach to finances. Their mindset and their confidence levels change dramatically. They are enabled and empowered – the transformation is truly remarkable.
For successful implementation, it’s critical for any wellness education program to build in accountability and involve relevant professionals who genuinely care about the positive behavioural outcomes achieved. Working with experienced partners over an extended period and having genuine consistency of presence is also an important ingredient to building a successful program and trusted relationship.
Starting the wellness journey is like jumping out of a plane and sky diving – once you jump out there is no getting back in. And the exhilaration consumes you as soon as you hit the air.
Week after week, the Financial Advice Matters team meet with a broad group of business professionals – life coaches, psychologists, nutritionists, health and safety managers, and HR professionals. Individuals that have all jumped out of the plane and created an environment for their employees where they are enabled to make small inroads into increasing financial confidence and capability, and in turn, make such a significant difference in their overall wellness and happiness.
Financial wellness education is the next frontier for professional coaches to provide valuable services to the broader community with practical application. And, as gatekeepers, I believe employers have an important role to play in supporting such initiatives.
Financial wellness, or lack of it, cuts across all industries, role levels, incomes and sectors, both public and private. So, if you are a gatekeeper for wellness within your organisation I encourage you to take the leap and jump out of the plane if you are ready to start the journey or enhance your existing wellness program.
Darren Smith, managing director, Financial Advice Matters Group
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