This blog post first appeared in Employee Benefit News (January 21, 2016).
The new year is typically a time when people take stock of their health and resolve to make changes for the better. It also provides a great opportunity for you to help your clients’ employees assess personal financial security and take steps to shore it up. This is particularly important with more studies showing a direct correlation between someone’s physical health and financial well-being. With the rocky start in the financial markets this year, combined with rising healthcare costs and stagnating wages in recent years, financial security may be more top of mind than ever for many people. As brokers, advisors and consultants, you are well-positioned to guide your clients and their workforce toward better health and financial security.
Achieving health and financial security requires a holistic, integrated approach, focusing on four cornerstone goals or objectives:
- Health – protecting health through appropriate health insurance products, as well as taking steps to improve or maintain health
- Income – maintaining (or increasing) spending power through the right combination of income protection insurance products (e.g., life and disability insurance), pre-tax spending and discount programs
- Assets – protecting accumulated assets through appropriate insurance products (e.g., homeowners and auto insurance)
- Future Savings – having the right longer-term savings strategies in place (e.g., 401k, long-term investments)
Any one of these goals alone is not enough. Like an investment portfolio, a balanced, diversified approach to an employee’s benefits is needed. And it must be personalized – people typically need a different mix of insurance and other products depending on their life stage, particular needs, and personal preferences, such as risk tolerance.
What specific steps can you take to help your clients’ employees achieve better health and financial security in 2016?
First, help them assess their current health and financial position. There are many available tools, ranging from short and sweet, online financial-wellness or financial advising applications to lengthy and comprehensive resources, to check someone’s current status in these areas. Going through the assessment process is key to identifying and prioritizing gaps and imbalance situations in an employee’s position.
Next, once employees have assessed the current state and identified opportunities to fill gaps or rebalance their benefits “portfolio,” it’s time to lay out the strategy for completing the portfolio. Many key portfolio elements are available via employer-offered benefits. Often, however, these benefits are not easy for employees to navigate. Providing context about how each benefit will help the employee achieve a particular cornerstone goals is critical. For example, assisting an employee in understanding how a supplemental income policy such as a cancer or critical illness policy could help maintain spending power in the event of a cancer diagnosis, will enable them to make a much more informed decision about whether that benefit is appropriate for them.
The importance of connecting the dots between health and financial security is becoming much more widely recognized, and it’s clear that – armed with the right tools and approaches – brokers, advisors, and consultants have an opportunity to help employees do just that.