Many of the clients I’ve been privileged to serve over the last several years are either business owners or senior executives in thriving corporations. As much as our conversations tend to focus on their personal financial goals and their family, there is another topic we discuss frequently. I like to ask – how are things going at work?
Over the years, leaders of these businesses, whether owners or executives, often report feeling stressed out by three situations: a key employee is departing, it’s tough attracting new top-talent and managing executive benefits is expensive and complicated, like herding cats.
To address these challenges, many organizations have instituted financial wellness programs. You may not have heard this term before. Usually financial wellness means that the talent inside an organization is focused and energized to do their best work because they are not worried about their personal finances or their family’s financial well-being. This is something that Whitnell has excelled at since the beginning.
If you or someone you care about is struggling with keeping top talent, attracting new talent or managing executive benefits in a way that really helps their organization, I believe financial wellness provides many benefits. Here are five ways these programs empower business owners and executives to worry less and excel more.
FINANCIAL WELLNESS FOR BUSINESS PEOPLE TOO
Financial wellness is not a new concept at Whitnell. Even though we have been doing this for a long time, we recently started focusing on it as a part of our Executive Planning service. Since the very beginning of this firm, it has been our mission to provide our clients with connection, comfort and continuity of service for all things relating to their wealth: financial plans, investments, taxes, insurance, estate plans and so much more. This has delivered the benefit of peace of mind to many families over the years.
So it only makes sense to us that we should do the same thing for companies. More importantly, for so many of our clients, it’s difficult to feel truly comfortable about their wealth, apart from their business, because so much of their wealth is tied to their business. This means that if their business doesn’t thrive, they don’t feel like they’re thriving either.
So much of what it takes today to thrive in business is about health. Healthy people are focused and energized and just more fun to be around. It’s very hard to do great work when you don’t feel good or are sick. But the same principle applies to feeling healthy when it comes to your finances.
Health in wealth is the core idea behind financial wellness programs for companies. This is something I’m really passionate about because I’ve seen first-hand how this helps organizations thrive and compete. For the last 20 years, I’ve served select organizations by helping them design and administer programs designed to produce financial wellness.
I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish for these businesses. This is one reason I have become an advocate for offering Executive Planning as a service to all Whitnell clients who are business stakeholders.
This is something we’ve done for years now. But we haven’t really talked about it and I think that’s an oversight on our part. We should no longer keep on the down-low something that we know really benefits our clients, even if this service only applies to a select group of clients.
FINANCIAL WELLNESS = PROGRAMS PLUS PASSIONATE PEOPLE
We’ve been able to produce great results for our clients because of our distinct approach: programs plus passionate people. Here is what I mean. Nearly every company has employee benefits programs and many organizations offer executive benefits. But there are often several problems with these programs:
- Sometimes they are simply too expensive or too cumbersome to administer.
- Sometimes they are hard for executives to understand and utilize effectively.
- Sometimes they are a hodge-podge of poorly integrated offerings.
But the root cause of all of these problems is that the programs are usually not paired with a passionate wealth manager who can help each executive get the greatest benefit possible. This is what we do exceptionally well. My clients know that I am an all-encompassing thinker and strategist when it comes to everything that impacts their wealth. Working with my team, we bring this same passion to the executives we serve inside companies.
FIVE WAYS FINANCIAL WELLNESS PROGRAMS BENEFIT COMPANIES
After having implemented these types of programs for several companies, I have come to recognize five core benefits. These programs help companies:
- Retain their top people.
- Attract new top-talent in a competitive landscape.
- Improve the performance and focus of executives.
- Enhance their culture, reputation and brand.
- Maximize the impact of their benefits packages.
RETAIN THEIR TOP PEOPLE
When a key employee leaves an organization, the effect can be devastating. I’ve seen this more than once in my career. There are all sorts of reasons that people leave companies. But, in many instances, financial considerations are near the top of that list.
I’ve heard people in transition say: “I love the company and the people and what we do, but the opportunity to move over there is just too good to pass up.” Usually that opportunity is related to their overall financial well-being, and the benefits they see for their family, as much as it is to career growth.
Financial wellness programs help prevent your top people from migrating to greener pastures. If an executive has been with a company for five years or more and has thrived both professionally and financially, there should little reason for them to want to leave. But it is the perception, not always the reality, of greener pastures that causes many people to consider the move in the first place.
Retaining your top people is about producing clarity in their mind that they simply cannot do better elsewhere. Financial wellness programs help create this clarity. How so?
Let’s assume for a moment that your overall compensation package is competitive with what’s available in your industry. (If that is not the case, then you really have to look at your overall package.) Let’s also assume that you have provided your top people a passionate wealth manager who is looking at their entire picture and helping them create a long-term plan to live the life of their dreams.
That is a lot to walk away from, even if the new opportunity offers a marginally better compensation package. If they stay with your company, they get to keep the relationships of trust that will guide them toward a future they can believe in. But if they walk away, they lose that.
Financial wellness is as much about relationships as it is about programs. Best-in-class financial wellness programs create clarity in the minds of your top people that they can’t do better elsewhere.
ATTRACT NEW TOP-TALENT IN A COMPETITIVE LANDSCAPE
Every organization needs talent and a lot of it. Whether it’s sports teams, theater troupes or corporations, your talent defines how well your team performs. But attracting top-talent has become very challenging over the last several years.
Many of the clients where we’ve implemented financial wellness programs are not great big companies. The perception, wrong as it may be, is that top-talent will go to top companies, usually the Fortune 500 or cutting-edge technology companies. We’ve proven that financial wellness programs can increase the ability of small to mid-size companies to compete with the big dogs on the block.
Imagine that you are interviewing a candidate who seems like the perfect fit for your team and you really want them to join. This person asks about compensation and executive benefits. How much more confident will you be if you can say – we have the best executive benefits program in our space? What kind of impact might this have on your ability to attract top talent?
IMPROVE THE PEFORMANCE AND FOCUS OF EXECUTIVES
Teams are often defined by the performance of their top people. In the big game, the big players step up big time. But to do this, they need a clear mind and a readiness to perform. I believe this is one of the greatest benefits of financial wellness programs.
Organizations that emphasize comprehensive financial wellness strategies for their top people help those people focus more intensely while at work and rest more deeply while away. This produces a refreshed and energized executive who is ready to tackle whatever the day or situation may require.
Best-in-class financial wellness programs help top executives focus and do their best work while also increasing their quality of life away from work.
ENHANCE THEIR CULTURE, REPUTATION AND BRAND
Companies, in many ways, are just like people. We develop reputations where we become known for certain things, especially in the circles where we hang out. Industries are often like neighborhoods where the same people show up to conferences, tradeshows and other events. These people talk.
Organizations who emphasize comprehensive financial wellness programs create a certain reputation. I believe they become known for a culture that prizes their people. This sends their executives a message that says – we want this to be the last place you ever work and where you do your best work.
MAXIMIZE THE IMPACT OF THEIR BENEFITS PACKAGES
Program cost is one of the biggest concerns for executive committees who are considering how to improve their executive benefits programs. I’ve heard people on these committees say – we can’t afford to do everything we want to do.
That may be true. But in my experience, there are often ways to substantially improve the impact of executive benefit programs that only add incremental costs or no costs at all. If there are incremental costs, they are usually more than worth it when compared to the impact. Here is what I mean.
Many organizations offer some type of executive benefit program in addition to standard employee benefits. But the strategy behind these programs is often of a hodge-podge nature, where there is not a singular vision and guiding principle that sets parameters for what is in and what is out.
This lack of vision not only creates undue expense, it usually adds to the complexity of the offerings. This, in turn, often reduces the level of adoption and utilization from executives. In other words, the risk is that these companies pay for services that get little use. That’s called waste and it’s very expensive.
What most organizations need, in my experience, is a trusted advisor to help them analyze not only the programs they have today but also their overall goals and the vision of what they are trying to achieve. This analysis and a set of recommendations that follow could, in some instances, actually decrease costs while increasing utilization and impact.
If your organization is struggling to keep top talent, attract new talent or streamline executive benefits to maximize impact, we should have a conversation. This could be just what your company needs to reduce worries and improve the performance of your top people.
© 2018 Whitnell & Co. The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only.