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Working Well

The Role of Family and Employers in Financial Decisions

Who do people trust the most for financial advice: their family, employer or professional financial adviser?

My first full-time job out of college, and the first beat I’m put on as a professional writer is workplace benefits. At first that was daunting, but of course that’s proven to be very useful and practical in my personal life as well. I’d love to forget about things like retirement, which can be stressful sometimes and seem way too far off in the future, but I can’t. I literally get paid to talk to experts and tell you what experts say.

With this in mind, I’ve been working with my parents to start an investment account. My savings account basically gets no interest, and I’m not buying any real estate or cars any time soon, so I might as well invest my money and have a chance at getting a noticeable return, they said. The source they sent me to get this advice on how to invest my money was a professional financial adviser, but that’s not why I trusted him with my money. I trusted him because he’s my uncle.

This experience brought me back to a few interviews I’ve conducted recently. Human Capital Media Video Producer Andrew Lewis and I did some man-on-the-street interviews with people for a video story recently to gauge what people know about their own retirement. We’re still working on the story currently, but for now I want to mention a common thread that a few people brought up. Namely, one woman felt very confident about her financial decisions because her father raised her that way, and another woman got her retirement advice from her financial expert son.

[Also read: “An Overwhelming Retirement Environment]

I’ve seen examples of employers offering employees the opportunity to speak with a professional adviser as part of a financial wellness or benefits package, and I’ve seen an increasing interest from employers to expand their financial wellness efforts. But what these interviews and my own personal experience got me thinking about was what a pivotal role family and upbringing play in many people’s financial lives and decisions.

How much do people trust their own family members for financial advice versus how much they trust their employer or a professional financial adviser?

A 2015 survey conducted by online adviser iQuantifi found that 70 percent of millennials have relied on a family member (71 percent) or friend (45 percent) for financial advice while only 29 percent said they’d sought advice from a professional. A 2017 survey conducted by financial services firm Scottrade also found a generational component is trust level toward financial advisers. While few baby boomers (22 percent) or seniors (15 percent) felt like professional advisers “sometimes recommend products and solutions that are in their own best interest,” that number was much larger for Gen X (64 percent) and Gen Y (67 percent).

For the video interview, I spoke with Alison Borland, executive vice president of defined contribution solutions at Alight Solutions, and she had something great to say about this topic. Employees — especially millennial employees — like to know that they are being provided financial solutions or education where there are no conflicts of interest or hidden motivations, she said. An important step in engaging employees is that if they’re getting advice, guidance or information from employers, they know they can actually trust it.

Of course, earning that trust is another story, but I loved the focus she put on trust. Borland’s comments spoke to something so basic and foundational for a successful program.

There is a place for employers in retirement, even if certain people do trust their family members more than their employers or professional advisers. For example, we recently had Kyle Sanders, owner and lead financial consultant of Legacy Consultants Group, pen an online article for us about family financial literacy programs in the workplace.

Children and teenagers don’t typically learn financial literacy in school, and growing up they often rely on their family to teach them those skills. “Family-focused financial education is becoming an increasingly popular benefit for employers to offer. Just as employees find value in personal financial education offered by their employers, this type of family-focused financial training empowers them to help them raise financially fit children,” Sanders wrote.

I’d love to hear back from readers: what strategies do you use in the workplace to build trust among employees?

Other Health, Wellness and Benefits Stories:

Here are health wellness-related stories caught my attention in the past week. There’s so much to write about in this space that it’s impossible to do a deep dive on every topic. I hope this helps you learn a little more about what’s going on in the wellness world!

Should Employers Get Out of the Retirement Business?: My colleague Lauren Dixon, senior editor at Talent Economy, recently explored the topic of employers’ place in the retirement business in a video. Should employers be doing more or less to help employees who are struggling financially to prepare for retirement?

How Can We Remedy the Shortage of Health Providers?: Health insurance and health care costs aren’t the only health care concerns in the U.S. There is a shortage of health care providers throughout the country, especially in rural areas, according to The Boston Globe.

Is Workplace Monitoring Getting Too Personal?: Although it is possible to use biometric monitoring devices prudently, workplace monitoring has gone too far, according to a Chicago Tribune columnist.

The Price of Gun Violence on the Workplace: Gun injuries cost almost $100,000 per patient— and that’s just in health care costs. That doesn’t even include missed time at work. This MarketWatch article is mostly focused on the public health impact of gun violence, but, in my opinion, public health problems and workplace health problems go hand-in-hand. If there’s one thing I’ve learned a wellness writer, it’s that employers don’t want sick or injured employees.

Andie Burjek is a Workforce associate editor. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com.