Advisers Can Help Ease Workers’ Financial Burdens

As corporate and social safety nets erode, workers are less confident they will be able to achieve financial security.

However, advisers are in a position to help both employers and workers reach their financial goals, according to a new study from MetLife.

Nearly two-thirds of workers said that the decline in corporate benefits, such as pension plans and health, life and disability insurance, is a threat to their financial security. Further, a majority of all generations – particularly Baby Boomers and Generation X – say their financial future is at greater risk than in the past.

Workers also appear to have noticed the increased attention to, and discussion about, the solvency of social safety nets, including Social Security and Medicare. According to the study, 72% of Americans – and a strong majority of each generation – do not expect to have the support of Social Security, and more than half (53%) no longer expect to have Medicare in their post-retirement years.

Sixty percent of those surveyed said they think they carry more financial burdens than their parents did, and the overwhelming majority feel this burden will continue to grow for future generations. Further, 66% of workers say that items that were previously considered luxuries, such as Internet access at home, a cell phone and cable television, have now become necessities. In order to generate enough income for basic needs, more than half (53%) of workers say they have had to change jobs, or may need to change jobs in the future.


The Role of the Adviser


MetLife recommends that employers demonstrate to employees that they’re not on their own by building awareness and programs to encourage responsible saving and preparation for the future. Advisers can help their plan sponsor clients during these transitions.

The research suggests that helping employees cope with their increasing awareness of financial burdens can provide value to the employer. Advisers can help plan sponsors evaluate what benefits, employee or employer-paid, might be considered a cost effective way to mitigate the employees’ financial burdens. Benefits that provide bridges to more effective self-sufficiency, including those that encourage and facilitate capability development and career growth, are often welcomed by employees, the firm said. Also, another way employers can lessen the financial burden for their workers is to offer new retirees the ability to purchase benefits through the company.

In order to help employees through this new time, advisers also can provide clear strategies and plans that directly address increased their burdens. Part of those strategies might include planning for better financial and insurance protection options, the firm said. Advisers can also work with workers to clarify what goals are important to them, and what their personal destinations are, MetLife suggests.

The survey of 1,500 people was conducted by Strategy First Partners and Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates in November 2006.