As we’ve discussed in previous posts, financial wellness programs are an increasingly in-demand employee benefit. Participant assessments are a cornerstone of many of these programs, furnishing the data that providers use to build curriculums tailored to individual participants. They also represent the main avenue through which providers’ financial advisors develop their initial understanding of a participants’ goals and needs. Assessments can also establish wellness ratings or scores that set a baseline for participants, offering a way for them to measure their own progress as they achieve certain financial milestones, improve their financial know-how or change their habits for the better. However, while the self-reported data provided via assessments is integral to building participant profiles, they are also often the main introduction participants have to the platform. As such, participant assessments represent a key opportunity for providers to build participant trust, drive engagement, and set the tone for the overall participant experience. In CI’s upcoming Financial Wellness Assessments webinar, we delve into the current competitive landscape and discuss best practices for this important component of financial wellness platforms.

Corporate Insight’s comparative analysis of financial wellness assessments

In January 2022 CI released a Financial Wellness Assessments report (subscription required) that evaluated the assessment experience provided by 13 firms we cover in our Workplace Finance Monitor subscription research. This report, which provides a deep dive into the best practices of industry leaders and emerging innovators, builds off our August 2021 surveys focused on employee financial wellness and financial wellness programs:

  • Employee Financial Wellness Survey – Surveyed over 2,200 U.S. employees with access to workplace benefits through their employer on the following:
    • Availability, importance and participation in numerous workplace benefits, including financial wellness programs
    • Preferences related to educational content, financial news, advice, communications and digital engagement
    • Confidence in retirement savings and preparedness
    • Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on financial wellbeing
  • Financial Wellness Program Participant Survey – Surveyed over 1,300 U.S. employees currently enrolled in a workplace financial wellness program the following:
    • Preferences, usage and satisfaction with financial wellness program features, digital platforms and the overall program
    • Importance of over 75 financial wellness program features, digital capabilities, educational topics and content mediums

The results of these surveys confirm how important financial wellness assessments are to the overall digital experience; for example, respondents to our Employee Financial Wellness Survey reported reviewing a financial wellbeing score as their single most common activity and reported taking an assessment as the third-most common.

It’s not just which questions firms are asking, but how they are asking them

Our January report makes it clear that providers tend to align when it comes to the type of questions that they use to build participant profiles in financial wellness assessments; uniformly, the firms in our report present assessments that address employees’ current financial circumstances and habits. In fact, out of the 13 circumstance- and habit-related topics we identified, at least half of firms cover all but one, and at least 75% cover five. Moreover, certain topics were nearly ubiquitous across the coverage set, including workplace benefit offerings, emergency savings and employee debt.

This chart shows how firms address most key aspects of employees' financial circumstances and habits

With many providers asking the same types of questions and focusing on similar aspects of financial wellness, the way they present these questions may represent a key competitive differentiator in an increasingly crowded field. As detailed in our January report, firms use a range of strategies to enhance the assessment experience for participants, including the adoption of chat-style formats, providing supportive feedback and peer benchmarking within assessments, and working to phrase questions in a nonjudgmental and comforting style.

  • Financial Finesse offers a robust chat-style assessment featuring an AI-driven virtual financial coach the firm has named Aimee. Not only is this format ideally suited for the platform’s dynamic question flow, but the chat format coupled with the use of personal pronouns may lend a personal touch that more traditional, questionnaire-style assessments lack.
This image shows Aimee's financial wellness chat feature
Financial Finesse Aimee Chat – Financial Wellness Milestone Achievements Question
  • Enrich presents users with a Financial Wellness Checkup upon initial login that employs questions with Yes, No and Not Sure response options, as well as Likert scale, multiple choice, and check-all-that-apply questions. The assessment provides a How You Compare section that shows employees where they stand relative to other Enrich users—a feature that may put some participants at ease by showing them that many others share the same habits or are facing the same challenges
This image shows Enrich's financial wellness checkup tool
Enrich Financial Wellness Checkup – Future Goals Question
  • Merrill provides a 17-question quiz that spans six financial wellness categories and includes a combination of multiple-choice options, text entry fields and radio buttons. The firm’s platform stands out for offering reassuring feedback throughout the assessment process, fostering a nonjudgmental tone and possibly preventing participants from growing discouraged as they progress.
This screenshot shows Merrill's financial wellness assessment tool
Merrill Financial Wellness Assessment – Manage Expenses Question

Learn more about what makes an effective financial wellness assessment experience

The format in which financial wellness platforms present questions is just one way that leading firms are developing a competitive edge—communicating results, driving reengagement over time and ensuring accessibility are all important components to making sure that assessments don’t just provide actionable data but enhance the overall ROI of financial wellness platforms. To hear more about our financial wellness surveys, research, and how to build an impactful financial wellness program, sign up for our upcoming webinar: Financial Wellness Assessments: Best Practices and Industry Overview.