Schwab Retirement Plan Services has launched an online dashboard designed to help retirement plan participants save and invest.
My Financial Guide walks participants through a financial health assessment using straightforward questions most workers can answer without having to look at their financial records, according to Schwab.
“My Financial Guide was developed through extensive research and user testing to give workers the power to take control of their financial situations on their own terms,” says Nathan Voris, director, Schwab Retirement Plan Services. “We know workers want help with their finances, but many are confused by industry jargon and find it difficult to start the planning process. This interactive experience was designed to help meet their expressed needs and complement other educational resources and tools we provide to employers that want to offer competitive benefits and help employees save and invest for the future.”
Schwab Retirement Plans Services’ annual survey of 401(k) participants found that workers want more help saving and planning for retirement. Six in 10 participants (61%) in the 2021 survey said they think their financial situation warrants professional advice, an increase from 50% in 2020. The firm says My Financial Guide responds to these needs with modules on topics that retirement plan participants frequently want help addressing, including emergency savings, debt, insurance and estate planning. Each topic can be accessed independently so employees can work on the financial areas they care about most, at their own pace.
“My Financial Guide covers critical areas that employees say they want help with from their workplace, delivered through a modern, intuitive user experience that reflects our commitment to digital innovation that drives engagement,” Voris continues.
Working with experts in Schwab Digital Services’ Innovation Lab, teams conducted user testing to see financial challenges through the eyes of participants. Three insights emerged from this process, one being that workers’ financial lives change over time, so the support they receive should, too. Experts also found that many workers feel they are not worthy of a financial plan, which they view as difficult to make; and workers prefer support on their own terms, meaning where, when and how it best fits their goals and lifestyle.
My Financial Guide prompts users to provide information such as marital status and household income that drives customized visuals, next steps and goal setting.
Behavioral economics drives much of the guide’s interactivity. The Emergency Savings module, for example, encourages participants to act by drawing on goal gradient theory, which shows that motivation increases as individuals believe they are closer to achieving a goal. Participants see their emergency savings goal mapped out with a percentage progress bar, monthly savings amount and the next six-month milestone. They can use sliders to shorten the time frame further to see monthly goals and progress. Even if long-term progress is small, Schwab Retirement Plan Services says being on the verge of a short-term success may help keep participants motivated.
At the end of each module, participants receive a personalized checklist of next steps based on their inputs and can check on their guide periodically to track progress against goals and update their information in response to any major changes. My Financial Guide also includes options for participants to obtain financial coaching and get connected with tools, additional guidance and resources beyond their workplace plan to help address broader financial goals.
In addition, clients of Charles Schwab & Co. Inc. who have brokerage accounts can receive a complimentary financial plan for needs beyond their workplace plan.