Mercer launches online hub for financial wellness
Employers have long struggled to deliver a broad and comprehensive financial wellness program to their employees. Mercer Financial Wellness is a digital solution that integrates their many financial needs into one platform. Mercer hopes that by offering this platform to employees, employers can spend more time focusing on the strategic aspects of their financial wellness program while offering employees access to expert providers of financial services.
“Our goal is to provide an integrated experience that drives behaviors to optimize the financial well-being of individuals at every stage of their lives. This kind of holistic approach has the potential to dramatically strengthen and distinguish employer value propositions,” says Tom Murphy, U.S. DC & Financial Wellness Leader at Mercer.
They also hope to free up employee time by offering them access to all their financial information and needs in a single platform.
“Every financial decision we make is interrelated," says Derek Cushman, a U.S. Financial Wellness Solutions Leader at Mercer. That’s why Mercer will offer the following initial consumer financial services providers on the platform:
- Plaid offers tools to help individuals aggregate financial accounts and take steps to gain insights into spending and monthly budgets.
- Transamerica provides retirement counselors to provide individuals information about the choices associated with retirement savings, social security optimization and IRAs.
- Experian offers credit score management and the ability for individuals to understand and take control of their FICO Score.
- Avant can provide unsecured personal loans for qualified individuals facing cash flow shortages or consumer debt.
- CommonBond has options for individuals to save money by refinancing their student loans.
"We see employees with limited time wanting to work with all these providers in an integrated experience," says Cushman. “Employees today may have 15 financial apps they are trying to manage their financial life with a number of different providers.” The Mercer platform aims to pool these apps into one.
An easier life
“We’re looking to make [life] easier [for employees]. So when somebody has five minutes standing in the grocery store line, they can engage in their financial life," he adds. “Our job is the hub: to pull all this information and vendors into one coherent experience."
For example, those struggling with college debt can apply for student loan refinancing. Even those who aren’t approved due to low credit scores can use the platform as an opportunity to improve their credit score, create a budget and free up ways to pay off their debt.
The inclusive platform can aid in other life decisions, such as buying a house or preparing for retirement.
Most importantly, it’s a portable experience so employees can take the platform with them if they change jobs.
"People want to improve, but the tools to get them to take action need to be intuitive, easier and individualized," says Cushman.
He adds that this platform goes beyond education by helping people to take right action for financial life,” he says. “For employers it’s about reducing barriers so employees can take action."
Mercer’s hope is for the platform to provide an equal benefit for employees and employers. After all, the challenge for employers has always been determining which providers they offer their staff and how to put them together in an integrated way. With the platform, the employer can offer these voluntary benefits and choose to what degree, if any, they will subsidize the financial coaches, a service Mercer plans to roll out in the near future.
They also plan to add additional vendors and services, including access to robo-advised investment accounts for non-qualified assets and one-on-one personal financial coaching services.
“Whether it’s with us or someone else,” Cushman firmly asserts the only way to measure the success of a financial wellness program is by asking: “Are we changing lives?”