Retirement Weekly: Your workplace benefits may offer access to financial coaching—are you using it?
When you’re sick, you see a doctor. When you need a will drafted, you hire a lawyer. That’s because advanced training and professional qualifications matter when navigating life’s most complex conditions—and the same holds true when it comes to your finances.
You may not have thought of looking to your workplace for financial advice, but many companies today offer some sort of financial coaching, financial planning, or even financial advisement—perhaps through a financial wellness provider, retirement plan provider, employee assistance program, or a credit counseling service.
In fact, according to a Financial Health Network survey conducted on behalf of Morgan Stanley, 71% of employees are open to receiving personal finance support at work. With that in mind, ask yourself this question: Where do you turn when you make financial decisions, and could you use more support?
Financial coaching and the pandemic
Amid the pandemic, many companies have seen the effects of stress on their workers, and found that a workplace financial adviser can help employees navigate this stress.
We all know that getting in shape is much easier with help—whether it’s through a gym membership, workout buddy, personal trainer, or a group class you love. The same holds true for your financial health, but many of us aren’t sure where to turn for that source of extra insight and inspiration.
A recent report from Credit Karma found that many Generation Z and millennials look to social media for financial advice on everything from budgeting to retirement, credit card debt to home buying—specifically, social media influencers on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook. Most surveyed even say they simply take that advice at face value and run with it.
Deciding who to trust with financial decisions is a big step—especially because each of us has different needs to consider. What works for one person may not work for another, and this is an area of life where it makes sense to dig a little deeper and tap into any resources through your workplace benefits. Financial professionals are trained not only to understand how money and markets work, but also how to tailor financial planning for different individuals and their unique needs.
Where to turn for advice
Working with a financial adviser can help investors improve their bottom line: According to Barclays, financial professionals can help investors avoid costly mistakes through emotional behavior traps or blind spots, and even potentially improve investment returns.
That boost partly comes from having a neutral third party provide disciplined, emotionally detached investment guidance.
A financial adviser brings a human element to the table to help clarify, define, and take action toward goals–like a coach training an athlete. They can also tailor their guidance for you specifically, adapting and fine-tuning your financial plan along the way—whether you’re building your general financial knowledge or exploring automated tools to help remove emotion from financial decisions.
Financial professionals through your workplace benefits may be able to help you in the following ways:
· Build a personalized road map like a budget and a savings plan, covering education costs, or working through your unique needs.
· Make the most of your workplace benefits by helping you make more strategic decisions and take better advantage of your benefits programs—for example, finding new ways to stretch your budget with discount programs or transit benefits.
· Supporting financially responsible self-care by offering a neutral third-party perspective to help you learn new ways to approach your money, reduce financial stress, and feel more supported.
Financial advisers can also help you make the most of any other tools or benefits your employer might offer, like free access to a financial planning app or website, investment basics, emergency savings with an employer match, or even student debt repayment programs.
However, whether you’re tapping into financial advice through your workplace benefits or searching for a financial adviser on your own, take the time to do some research and make sure you understand how the advisory relationship works. Make sure that your financial adviser is held to high ethical standards, and make sure you are informed and comfortable with the potential risks, costs, and trade-offs of working together.
Financial planning support through your workplace can help you identify your true needs, identify goals, and organize actions that make sense for you to move toward greater financial strength.
Krystal Barker Buissereth, CFA, is managing director, and head of financial wellness at Morgan Stanley at Work.
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