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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Objections to financial wellness programs

Everyone benefits from financial wellness

Every employer should offer financial wellness. Some ways to help them understand.

  • Financial wellness is not one-size-fits-all. Different programs for different employee populations.
  • Be better than the free recordkeeper offerings
  • Focus on value over price
  • Use metrics or surveys to show progress

As financial wellness evangelists, we talk up its benefits at every opportunity and believe it will be a standard benefit alongside health, vision, and the 401(k). Unfortunately, financial wellness programs are still a hard sell for some companies–often the ones whose employees would benefit most.

Some of the more common objections you might hear are covered below along with suggestions on how to overcome them.

My employees don’t need it


Very, very few people cannot benefit from spending time researching and taking deliberate actions to improve their financial health. The richest people in the world hire teams of people to do just this. The key here is specialization. While a company’s employees might be smart or savvy enough to make the best decisions, doing all the research is time-consuming, and it is those very employees who will provide a higher ROI if they redirect that time to grow the company’s business.

Even for employees who would still prefer to do things themselves your services can still provide an informative second opinion or give them some questions to ask as they do their own research.

Already included as part of 401(k) plan

For better or worse most recordkeepers are moving into the financial wellness space as they try to remain competitive. It is great that more and more people will get exposed to financial wellness education but for too many recordkeepers financial wellness is a box to be checked. Their offerings tend to be generic, impersonal, shallow, and lack actionable advice.

There are two ways to approach this objection.

Compare and contrast

This approach takes some homework and preparation but can be really effective. A feature comparison sheet in your proposal will highlight the recordkeeper’s shortcomings and a deeper dive into both products will highlight your strengths. If you have access you can create a sample profile and run it through both systems to show how your product goes deeper and provides more personal and actionable advice for employees.


It might not occur to businesses that they don’t have to pick and choose and can use both your service and the recordkeeper’s product. With your expertise you can help employees navigate the recordkeeper’s platform and supplement its shortcomings with your own educational offerings.

Price is too high


If an HR director or business owner has been looking at financial wellness benefits then they might come away with a bit of sticker shock–particularly for SMBs (small and midsize businesses) that might feel their benefit expenses more acutely. This can be a valid objection but one with multiple strategies to employ to overcome.

Refocus conversation on value

The most ideal way to counter the pricing objection is to refocus the conversation on the value that your financial wellness services provide their businesses. This is where talking numbers can help you. I particularly like looking at the cost of employee turnover (something that is reduced when people are more financially secure) which includes:

  • Time and money (recruiting and job ads) spent on hiring
  • Lost productivity
  • Cost for coverage (other employees needing to work overtime pick up the slack during the transition)
  • Training

Eventually, they might be asking themselves, “how can I afford not to roll out a financial wellness program?”

Get innovative with pricing


Many firms providing financial wellness charge on a per-head basis. When quoting pricing to business owners the firm assumes a certain rate of adoption and then averages the cost over the entire employee base. What a business owner sees is you charging a fee for people who might not use the benefit at all.

In these cases, you could try charging a higher per-head fee but only charging based on the number of people who take advantage of the program. You can also try pricing tiers or making your services à la carte.

Provide something of value to all employees regardless of participation

The next time I see a 100% participation rate in a financial wellness program will be the first. (Unfortunately, as everyone can benefit from it!) In order to make the price more palatable to prospective clients, you can try providing value to all participants even if they aren’t using the program otherwise. This might be handouts, email courses or newsletters, ebooks, or videos that are educational and that the client’s HR department can distribute internally.

Can’t deliver what is promised

When touting benefits as part of the sales process it is important not to make any promises. Ultimately it is incredibly difficult to get people to change their behavior and approach to their finances. Good habits are built up over time and results do not happen overnight. While you can use financial wellness metrics to demonstrate your program’s effectiveness many of the benefits are qualitative rather than quantitative in nature.

One way to overcome this is with a short (could be even just one question) financial wellness survey of the people who have taken part in the program. “Did you get value out of the financial wellness program?” Or you can use the Net Promoter Score and ask, “On a scale of 1 (least likely) to 10 (most likely) how likely is it that you would recommend our service to a friend or colleague?”

The survey results are what you can use in lieu of metrics or reporting in proposals to highlight the enthusiasm participants have for the program even if they have not completed all the actions that drive the metrics such as paying off all debt or got completely on track for retirement yet.

Being ready to counter objections


Spending some time today to do your homework will pay off when hearing objections tomorrow. By pre-planning your responses you can respond to the objections confidently and in real time which shows prospective clients that, while their concerns are not unique, they are something that you can easily solve (and have done so already) and thus that your firm is the right choice for them.

Will Johnson

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