Great financial education can take ordinary group retirement plans and make them exceptional. One of the key components of a employee sponsored plan is a the education program.
What makes a great financial education program?
Three things create a great financial education program:
Information. When it comes to education, more often than not, the plan sponsor is the primary source. As a result, the focus of education is primarily on plan education and product education. Representatives from Sunlife, GWL, Manu, etc come in and teach the employees about what the plan offers and how to select the investments using a risk profile questionnaire that lumps employees into one of five broad categories (conservative, income, balanced, growth and aggressive). Most plan education stops there.
A great financial education program recognizes the importance of plan and product education but then teaches the employee how the plan fits into the bigger financial picture. Employees will thank employers who take education to the next level by providing good education on dealing with other facets of personal finance like debt, taxes, budgeting, insurance, benefits, banking, retirement planning and so much more.
Entertainment. Most people think of financial education programs as dry, boring and full of numbers. We look at financial education differently. We think the best education is a program that is fun and energetic and engaging. Here’s the problem, not group retirement representatives are teachers. They may know the products inside and out but they may not be the best at teaching or communicating. It’s like the lawyer who really knows wills and estate planning but stands up at the front of the room and reads his slides in a monotone voice. Who looks forward to listening to that? Just like when you went to school, having a good teacher is really key to learning. When it comes to a good financial education program at work, having a good instructor makes all the difference.
Inspiration. The most successful education programs, workshops or seminars inspire people to action. You can have all the knowledge in the world but if you don’t do anything with that knowledge then you will always do what you’ve always done and you will always get what you’ve always got. Good education programs engage people to the point where they want to change and improve and are willing to take the necessary steps to improvement. Great education programs provide exercises, tasks and encourage people to do some homework.
It’s a pretty simple formula that creates happy, financially stable employees. Give them a good plan with exceptional education. Some studies have shown that employees with great plans are sometimes really negative about the benefits because they simply don’t know how good the plan is and more importantly how the plan is going to help them with their finances and their retirement. That’s where education makes all the difference!