Movement Mortgage starts financial wellness program

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Employees come first at Movement Mortgage.

“It is more than just a goal. It is a culture thing for us. Literally our motto, our mission statement, is that we exist to love and value people,” says Nicole Peternel, former spokesperson for Movement Mortgage, LLC in Charlotte, North Carolina.

That’s why instead of a human resources department, the mortgage company has a Thrive department, dedicated to supporting employees in four categories: health and wellness; personal finances; professional environment; and families and relationships.

Each quarter, the company dedicates time and energy to one of these four pillars.

“It is a big audacious plan,” says Aimee Dodson, Thrive director at Movement Mortgage. “The Thrive department is changing our corporate culture and changing communities. The lion’s share of what we do is care for and encourage our employees.”

The company was always doing nice things for its employees, and it kept adding benefits it thought would be helpful. It finally decided to put all of its different initiatives under one umbrella, Thrive.

“We wanted to instill the notion that people who work here thrive — not just professionally, but personally,” Dodson says.

Movement offers three medical plans, dental, vision, disability benefits, supplemental life insurance policies, an employee assistance program and chaplains who serve all of its offices. The company also has a very robust financial wellness program hosted by Financial Finesse.

Movement’s focus on financial wellness started in January of this year. Financial Finesse offers the company’s employees access to its online platform, where they can “learn about financial wellness and how it relates to them in specific ways,” says Dan Starobin, director of client programs at Financial Finesse. The platform also provides resources so employees can learn about what they need.

“We wanted to instill the notion that people who work here thrive — not just professionally, but personally.”

Each employee of Movement Mortgage was asked to complete a financial wellness assessment. The assessment looks at a person’s finances and provides a list of his or her top three financial vulnerabilities, like credit card debt, the lack of an emergency fund or being behind in their retirement preparedness. It then provides resources for employees to take action or learn more.

Movement Mortgage also sent the assessment home so families could take it. The company is supplementing the assessment with financial advisors and financial workshops.

As part of its financial wellness initiative, Movement Mortgage launched the #loseamillion campaign to help the company’s employees across the country to drop $1 million in personal debt.

“The goal is for employees to get their personal finances in order so they can pay off their debt, including personal debt, student loan debt and credit card debt. Financial Finesse offers tools and resources to help employees negotiate down their debt and gives them options so they can take some action,” Starobin says.

As part of the campaign, Movement Mortgage sent every employee a copy of Dave Ramsey’s book “The Total Money Makeover.” It also sent weekly emails every week containing a 25-minute Ramsey video and a one-minute video telling the story of a current Movement Mortgage employee and what he or she is doing to improve his or her personal finances.

Movement Mortgage will wrap up its segment on personal finances at the beginning of April, when all employees will take the financial wellness assessment again to see if they succeeded in shedding an accumulated $1 million in debt.

“The goal is for employees to get their personal finances in order so they can pay off their debt, including personal debt, student loan debt and credit card debt."

Ninety-four percent of Movement Mortgage employees participate in the company’s 401(k) plan. The company matches 100 percent of the first 6 percent an employee puts into his or her account; employees are vested immediately. The company uses automatic enrollment and enrolls people at 1 percent once per year.

The company also offers an employee loan program for purchasing houses. It offers employees discounted rates and has a dedicated employee team to handle mortgage loans.

“We make it easy to facilitate that. We underwrite in six hours. Our employees are getting the same level of service with the best rates possible,” Dodson says.

The company preaches financial and accountability. “We are definitely not the people saying, ‘you can qualify for this, so spend this,’” Peternel says. “It is definitely more, ‘let’s figure out how this fits in your life and financial goals and go from there. We don’t want to max out people when they are stressed out financially.”

She adds that “just because you can afford it doesn’t mean you should buy it. There are a lot of things to take into consideration.”

Movement Mortgage also sponsors a charitable giving foundation, the Love Works fund, that enables employees to help colleagues in need.

"Just because you can afford it doesn’t mean you should buy it."

“Right now, over 60% of the workforce contributes to payroll deduction for that, and our company owners match each of those,” she says. If employees are experiencing a personal crisis or medical calamity, are getting behind in their bills or have a major car repair to pay for, they can apply to this fund for help. The employee’s situation is presented anonymously to the Love Works team, which determines how best to help the person in need. The company gave $530,000 in grants to 245 employees last year.

Movement Mortgage employs 3,000 employees across the United States. It is licensed in 45 states, including Washington, D.C.

“We’re growing. Our growth number was 80% last year and we show no signs of slowing down,” Peternel says. “We are the fastest-growing mortgage company in the U.S. It speaks to people who enjoy working with us. We put integrity and heart into everything we do.”

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Financial wellness Financial stress Financial planning Retirement education Retirement planning 401(k)