Charleston-based Questis is an employee-owned independent registered investment advisory firm. They rely on innovative technology to deliver proven, science-based investment advice to help clients invest intelligently and keep more of their money. They are not a broker, which allows them to stay free from many conflicts of interest inherent to large investment firms. They’re passionate about a better investment experience and educating clients to make strong decisions to get proven results. The firm is located in downtown Charleston on the corner of Bull St. and Ashley Ave. Here Steve Wilbourne, founder of Questis, outlines the three steps employers need to follow in order to empower their employee’s financial futures.
Do you invest regularly in your company’s 401k but still worry about your finances? Maybe you feel you’re doing all you can, yet you find yourself staring at the ceiling, unable to sleep, because you feel uncertain about your financial future. Chances are others in your workplace might be feeling the same way. Where do you turn for help?
Imagine the next day you learn your company is providing a new benefit – direct connection to a Certified Financial Planner®. After spending a few minutes with some simple online software, you are in a trusted and confidential conversation with your new financial guide. After taking a few relevant steps, you’ve made real progress towards your financial destination. You now feel a sense of relief knowing you’re headed in the right direction.
Seventy-six percent of American workers are living paycheck to paycheck and thirty-one percent have no retirement savings at all. Company leaders need to take ownership of this problem because to date, they have offered 401(k) as the solution and ignored the real problem. Large and small companies throughout the country provide financial benefits to executives and founders, while the people who need it most – the vast majority of working Americans – are left to fend for themselves in a confusing landscape of financial service..
In order to empower the American workforce, companies need to take on a vested interest in helping them feel secure about their financial future. Here’s a 3-step process for corporate leaders to take ownership of this problem and provide a financial guidance benefit for everyone.
3 Steps to Getting Your Employees on the Right Financial Path
Step 1: Help them get started.
If we want employees to prepare well for their financial future, we’ve got to quit overlooking personal financial distress and help them get started. Healthcare costs and coverage may grab most of the headlines, yet for most people financial health is more paralyzing than physical health. Moreover, one of the biggest culprits of health problems is actually financial stress. When people are dealing with financial problems, they’re much more likely to report health problems, including ulcers, severe depression, strokes and even heart attacks.
The conversations Questis has with employees are often the first conversations they’ve ever had about finances outside of their family, and they are eager to get started on a positive path. Providing employees the opportunity to have confidential conversations with expert guides not only gets them started, but this alone may change their lives.
Step 2: Help them find their personal path.
There’s an old saying that you can’t reach your destination if you don’t know where you’re going. With defined income benefits and ‘lifetime employment’ with a single company now ancient history, today’s employees are required to shoulder the burden of their future income needs.
It’s important to understand that the lifetime income equation can be substantially different for everyone, and a one-size-fits-all solution doesn’t exist. Sure, the markets are crossing historic highs and we’ve rebounded from the great recession, but most employees long for income security and that destination is most easily reached on a step-by-step journey.
In a recent financial wellness study by Price Waterhouse Coopers, 77% of employees say they’d prefer a retirement plan with guaranteed fixed monthly payments for life versus a plan where they invest funds themselves. Additionally, nearly half of those same employees said they’d sacrifice future pay increases to get that plan. The challenge today is to engineer lifetime income for everybody out of system rules that don’t work for most people.
Step 3: Help them conquer their pains and celebrate their victories.
How do I get started? Will I have enough? With everyone on different paths toward different destinations, and conditions constantly changing, employees require a personal direction.
Employers readily provide defined contribution plans or savings plans, better known in most workplaces as 401k, as the employee path. This puts workers in charge of some very complex financial decisions. Defined contribution plans work in theory, but often fail in practice because most employees do not understand basic investment principles and are ill-equipped to take advantage of the benefit.
The 401k has been the epitome of the ‘check the box for financial support’ of employees. This approach is miserably failing. The majority of employees need a guide – someone who understands both their abilities and limitations – and prepares them for more than just a 401k. By providing employees with this support, they can focus more at work and sleep better at night knowing they are more supported and more secure financially.
Questis is proud to bring to market the first solution to help employers with all three of the above steps. A financial guidance benefit, which measures financial distress, solves the lifetime income equation, and delivers tailored guidance to reach personal financial destinations. Systematic, daily actions are distributed through easy-to-use software, but guides are always standing by to deliver relevant educational content and accountability to everyone. Once an employee is on their path, the benefit focuses on the worker’s quest to accumulate enough assets and confidently answer all of their questions like “Will I have enough income?” Questis automates the delivery of scientifically credible investment strategies that translates assets into a monthly income figure for life, which as it turns out is what most of us are working for. So, for company leaders looking for a real multiplier and talent retention tool, consider partnering your employees with a financial guide.
Steve Wilbourne is the founder of Questis, which commenced operations in 2010. A South Carolina native, Steve has been involved in the asset management landscape in and around Charleston since the late 1990’s. and leads the strategic direction of the company. His diverse business and entrepreneurial experience includes nearly 20 years of investment advisory know-how, including work with both a $500 million-boutique RIA specializing in investment services for medical professionals; and private wealth management at SEI Investments.