Contributor: Kristen Fricks-Roman
Company: Morgan Stanley Wealth Management
Title: Financial Advisor
Stress is part of any job, even if you love what you do. But, if you’re like many professionals today, you increasingly feel the pressure of financial worries — like health care costs, student loan debt and lack of savings — and carry it with you into the workplace. Compounding stress affects your physical and emotional well-being, and contributes to decreased productivity at work.
That’s why employers are working with financial advisors and retirement plan sponsors to help educate employees about how they can better manage their finances and reduce stress. It’s called financial wellness, and it encompasses your entire financial picture — from current concerns such as budgeting effectively and reducing debt to long-term plans like saving for retirement.
Financial Education Is Evolving
When it came to education about retirement plans, the traditional approach was to provide information. Employees would then sift through the information and make the best decision they could about what was right for them. Over time, it became clear that people needed more than information, so employers and plan sponsors offered employees tools and ways to act on their decisions. Now information and tools are not enough to move the needle toward savings success.
The idea of financial wellness is the latest evolution in the bigger picture of financial planning, because it recognizes more of the human elements involved in money management. Those factors include not only the stress that comes into play, but also the benefits that financial advisors and coaches offer to the process of developing and executing a successful financial plan.
Making the Most of Tools and Resources
If your employer offers a retirement plan, look for components like these (often offered through an online portal) that can help you meet your financial goals.
- Automatic enrollment and savings. Your employer may have enrolled you automatically in its retirement plan. If that’s the case and you haven’t yet started making contributions to a 401(k) or other employer-sponsored savings program — or if you do contribute but it’s not taken out of your paycheck regularly — you might want to consider making automatic contributions. You’ll need to reassess and perhaps adjust the amount of your contributions periodically to ensure that you are on track with your longer-term plans, but you may be able to reduce the stress about your financial future and take at least one item off your to-do list if you know your savings are growing without your consistent input.
- Personalization and budgeting tools. Check to see if your employer offers resources like online assessments that show you where you are financially and what next steps you may want to take. Budget tools are also effective in helping track your monthly income, expenses and discretionary spending, all of which are critical to your financial well-being. If these types of tools are not available at work, do an internet search to find some that align with your needs.
- Advice and guidance from knowledgeable professionals. Access to a financial advisor or coach can raise the bar on the effectiveness of your selected financial solutions. For example, these professionals can help you understand key financial stress points and how to avoid them. Watch for online webinars or on-site seminars that your employer may offer with financial advisors. Taking part may help inspire you to take positive action with your finances.
The future of financial wellness combines high tech with high touch. As awareness increases among employers about financial stressors on their employees, and how they affect productivity, more solutions will be available in the workplace. And, if your employer does not yet offer a financial wellness program, being proactive and suggesting that one be implemented will be a help to you and your fellow employees.
Kristen Fricks-Roman is a Financial Advisor with the Wealth Management Division of Morgan Stanley in Atlanta. The information contained in this article is not a solicitation to purchase or sell investments. Any information presented is general in nature and not intended to provide individually tailored investment advice. The strategies and/or investments referenced may not be suitable for all investors as the appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives. Investing involves risks and there is always the potential of losing money when you invest. The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, or its affiliates. Information contained herein has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee their accuracy or completeness. Morgan Stanley and its Financial Advisors do not provide tax or legal advice. Before investing, investors should consider whether tax or other benefits are only available for investments in the investor’s home state 529 college savings plan. Investors should carefully read the Program Disclosure statement, which contains more information on investment options, risk factors, fees and expenses, and possible tax consequences before purchasing a 529 plan. You can obtain a copy of the Program Disclosure Statement from the 529 plan sponsor or your Financial Advisor. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, LLC, member SIPC. CRC 2235406 09/18