Advisors seeking to strengthen their footing in the retirement plan market might lead with a little personal advice, given the findings of a workplace-study survey released yesterday by Morgan Stanley at Work.
State of the Workplace II paints a picture of employees hungry for financial guidance and human-resources executives lamenting the inadequacy of their companies’ financial-benefits plans.
When asked what type of retirement-planning tool would be most beneficial, 52% of the 1,000 employees surveyed identified access to a financial planner. Other employee asks included goals-based retirement investment planning and access to planning tools and calculators. Meanwhile, 40% of the 600 HR executives surveyed during the study’s July fielding period believed that advisor access was their benefits program’s greatest need, and 83% of the HR segment recalled at least one instance in which an employee requested retirement-planning support that the company could not provide.
The vast majority of employees — 85% — indicated that employers were not doing enough to help workers through financial matters. And most of that group was emphatic: A total of 53% of respondents completely or strongly agreed that employers should be more involved in helping their employees through specific financial troubles.
“Employees are looking to their employers for the resources and support they need to navigate personal financial challenges, both day-to-day and long-term,” commented Krystal Barker Buissereth, Morgan Stanley at Work’s managing director and head of financial wellness, in a statement accompanying the study’s release.
The workers’ cries for help are underscored by defensive actions. A substantial 62% said that they’ve had to reduce contributions to their overall savings, and about half of that group conceded scaling back 401(k) contributions.
Even the workers who aren’t scrimping are getting more concerned about their financial future. A robust 85% of the HR executives reported that their workforce is more attentively reviewing its financial-benefits plan than it was a year ago.
“Employees are increasingly paying closer attention to their benefits, especially with labor and expertise in such high demand among employers,” said Scott Whatley, Morgan Stanley at Work’s managing director and global head of equity solutions, in the study’s report.
And the HR folk have apparently listened. All but 3% of the HR executives surveyed placed moderate or high priority on reassessing their companies’ financial-benefits plans.