Financial planners can help with everything from investing to retirement, and your employer may offer planning services for free

Business Insider 1 month ago

When you think about work benefits, two things probably spring right to mind: health insurance and retirement savings. However, more and more employers are offering another benefit that can have a massive impact on an employee's well-being: financial planning services.

Sixty-five percent of employers offer some sort of financial wellness program, according to a recent survey by Robert Half International; almost 40% of those employers pick up the tab for these programs.

And yet, most people have not taken advantage of financial planning services offered by their employer. This might be because they worry about their privacy, or they're just unaware that the services are offered.

However, tapping into financial planning resources can have huge benefits for your financial future. Here's why you should take advantage of employer-sponsored financial planning, no matter what sort of financial situation you're in.

There's an educational component

Many people don't talk about finances with their parents and never learn about money at school. That can leave even highly educated individuals with little information about financial planning, said Cindy Conway, benefits group director at Cadence Design Systems.

"The education system as a whole hasn't yet integrated financial health into the curriculum, so we're seeing new college graduates enter the workforce somewhat unprepared when it comes to finances. We're seeing a similar pattern with baby boomers preparing for retirement," Conway says.

Taking advantage of financial planning and financial coaching sessions offered through your employer can help you establish a foundation for a healthy financial future.

It's useful no matter what life stage you're at

Employees might feel that they don't have use for financial planning because they're not taking home huge paychecks. However, this couldn't be further from the truth. Financial planning has benefits at all life stages. Even if you're paying down debt or living paycheck to paycheck, a financial planner can help you identify your financial goals and move towards them.

"Financial planning is important and can deliver positive results for employees, regardless of their current financial situation or stage of their life," Conway says. She's heard from employees who have taken advantage of financial planning services to pay off student loans, purchase a home, or begin planning for retirement.

Financial planners can help you take advantage of other benefits

When Trish Gallagher started working at a private school in Massachusetts, she didn't understand the benefits of investing in the retirement plan the school offered.

"Originally, I was very hesitant to have money taken out of my paycheck because I didn't realize how it benefited me," she said.

However, Gallagher's employer also offered yearly financial planning services, where employees were able to meet one-on-one with planners.

During these sessions, Gallagher learned about the benefits of retirement investing and worked with the planner to set an amount to be automatically deposited into her 401(k) retirement account each pay period.

"Not having been taught a lot of these skills in college, it was awesome to have someone explain it all to me after getting my first 'real' job and stressing the importance of financially planning for the future," she says.

It can vastly reduce your stress

Fifty-nine percent of employees say that money is the biggest cause of stress in their lives. Knowing how to better manage your money can help reduce that stress. This improves your quality of life, and can make you more productive at work.

"Employers are discovering that most people focus a lot on the front end of money (the income), but neglect the back end of money (the management), which is where most of the stress emanates," says Dave Lowell, a certified financial planner. "Once the employees learn how to manage their money and have a plan, their stress decreases, they don't continually demand an increase in salary or threaten to jump ship, and their productivity at work increases."

Using the benefit shows employers there is demand for these services

Financial planning can help most people become more financially secure. And yet, it's still a service that is secondary to other benefits. However, if more employees use these programs, it will show employers that there is a demand for financial guidance and information in the workplace.

Having more access to financial planning can help people work smarter, not harder, when it comes to money.

"By understanding and acting on basic financial principles, employees feel empowered with their money instead of ashamed, stressed, or scared," Lowell says. "Happiness levels increase, stress decreases, productivity increases, and employees are able to focus more on perfecting their craft and increasing their skillset, adding even more value to the employers.

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