EL SEGUNDO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Financial Finesse, the leading provider of unbiased workplace financial wellness programs, has released its second annual research report on employee generational finance issues, attitudes, management styles and preferences.
The study analyzed the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of Millennials, Generation X, Late Baby Boomers and Early Baby Boomers based on 23,749 employees who answered a financial wellness assessment. Below are the study’s key findings:
- The most immediate economic threat is Baby Boomers retirement preparedness, with the greatest danger signs among those aged 55-64. Fifty-one percent of employees in this age range report they have not run a retirement plan estimate, and only 22 percent report having long-term care insurance in place, despite the fact that the average cost for nursing home care is over $50,000 a year according to AARP. This is likely to have a significant economic impact, as families or the government will be forced to support those who have inadequate savings, and employers will bear the brunt of costs associated with those who want to retire but decide to delay because they are not financially prepared to do so.
- That said, the generation likely to face the most significant financial challenges is not Baby Boomers, who are so often the focus of news reports on retirement, but Gen Xers. While Gen Xers made improvements to their finances in 2013, they lag other generations in the areas of cash management and retirement planning. In addition, they face a combination of circumstances that makes them more vulnerable than either their older or younger cohorts: 1) They will begin to retire right when the Social Security trust fund is expected to run out, and are expected to receive about 25 percent less in Social Security benefits if nothing is done to change the system; 2) They have less time than Millennials to compensate for this by saving more; 3) Of all generations, they have the most current financial pressures and hardest time saving for the future due to competing priorities that most Millennials have yet to face and most Baby Boomers have already overcome.
- Millennials are faring better than Gen Xers when it comes to day-to-day management skills, but they are not engaged in retirement planning (with 71 percent reporting they have not run a retirement plan estimate), and they tend to approach their finances from a very short-term perspective. This is concerning, given the fact that they will need to save more to offset a lack of government and corporate support, as well as the likelihood of tax and inflation increases over the course of their careers.
Liz Davidson, founder and CEO of Financial Finesse, says the financial vulnerabilities and concerns of each generation are growing even more pronounced based on the firm’s experience educating different generations of employees. She points out that there is growing success associated with education that is specifically tailored to each generation.
Davidson believes the differences between generations are largely driven by rapid economic and technological changes. She notes that “now, more than ever, we are seeing disparity between how different generations learn, process, and manage their finances, as well as the approaches that best motivate them to improve their finances.” She adds, “Part of it has stemmed from the increasingly fast pace of technological changes, where younger generations are adapting to new technologies that help them manage their finances much faster than older generations who are far more motivated by in-person interaction.”
Greg Ward, director of Financial Finesse’s Think Tank, adds that each generation faces such unique financial vulnerabilities and issues that the traditional model of providing standardized retirement planning and benefits information doesn’t resonate with employees any longer.
According to Ward, there’s no way to address every generations’ needs with the same message. “While many Baby Boomers are not adequately prepared for retirement,” says Ward, “those that are eligible for Social Security will most likely receive full benefits, and they are much more likely to have some form of pension or retiree medical insurance than younger generations.” Ward adds, “Most [Boomers] are not as financially secure as they expected to be by now, but they are still in a privileged position compared to younger generations who are less likely to have financial support from their employers or the government, and face potentially higher tax and inflation rates over the remainder of their careers.”
Both Davidson and Ward note that the companies who are the most successful at employee communication—particularly around finances and benefits—are those that no longer consider their organizations to be a singular workforce for purposes of education, communication, and training.
The firm encourages all of its large clients to make this mind shift. In studying the effectiveness of targeted benefits and financial education versus a uniform approach, the firm has discovered that employee engagement levels are three to four times higher when companies tailor their education and communication to meet each generation’s specific financial attitudes, learning preferences, and priorities. Engagement levels are even higher when companies take it a step further and create financial communication, education, and development plans that also factor in employees’ incomes, regional cultures, and occupations.
Davidson notes that when companies tailor their programs to this level, they typically see the majority of their workforce improve their financial behaviors and better manage their benefits. She adds, “The number of employees that are making positive changes to the way they handle their paycheck continues to grow as employees have become more aware of the need to take control of their finances.”
About Financial Finesse
Financial Finesse is an unbiased financial education company providing personalized and innovative financial education and counseling programs to over 600,000 employees at over 500 organizations. Financial Finesse partners with organizations to reach goals such as reducing fiduciary liability, increasing plan participation, decreasing employees’ financial stress, and increasing productivity through its unique approach to financial education. Financial Finesse does not sell products nor manage assets. For more information, visit www.financialfinesse.com.