Ernst & Young takes aim at financial wellness with a plan of action

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While some employers focus on their employees’ lagging fiscal literacy, assurance and taxation provider Ernst & Young will unveil a new financial wellness application that connects cash-strapped employees with either a live or virtual financial adviser.

Set to go live in either late May or June, EY Navigate prompts employees to create a financial wellness plan based on their spending habits and savings levels to prepare for retirement or, in more pressing cases, help workers who need help managing their day-to-day spending.

The new application is “mobile responsive” to allow smartphone and tablet users to access the information and services, said Anila Venkat, venture lead at EY Innovation Foundry, the division that oversees EY Navigate. The firm added that a native mobile app for iOS and Android will be available in the summer.

EY Navigate is expected to only cost employers “a few dollars” per employee per month, Venkat said. She added that the service is being used inside EY and users of its personal finance tools can upgrade to EY Navigate in the coming weeks and months.

“Once we engage with the employer client, they provide the service to their employees. They can speak directly with a live financial planner, or access service through a website or soon to come mobile app,” she said. The employee then gets down to work “breaking down complex tasks, such as retirement planning and debt management, into bite-sized activities.”

If the employee has their own financial planner, they can use EY Navigate to message and work with their financial planner, Venkat noted.

See also: Moving from the idea of a financial wellness into a plan of action

This new hybrid service addresses more than financial illiteracy. Even though employees still struggle with spending and savings concepts, literacy doesn’t always lead to outcome.

“Some folks know what they need to do but they don't go out and do it. As a service, we are focused on driving outcome,” she said.

EY Navigate is the newest offering of EY Personal Finance, a suite of financial wellness and tax compliance tools. The suite includes EY Change, a compensation and benefits package; EY TaxChat, a mobile tax preparation service; and EY Tax Desk, a set of tax and retirement tools for financial advisors.

EY spent much as last year interviewing clients and speaking with financial adviser firms to hear their thoughts about financial wellness and its impact on employees and their productivity.

“Physical wellness has been a hot topic for a number years but employers are seeing that for a complete wellness strategy, financial wellness is an important part of that,” Venkat said. “It is intimately tied with the physical side.”

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Financial wellness Retirement readiness Retirement income Retirement planning Retirement benefits Retirement education EY