Adam Fox-Everitt at Browne Jacobson talks loans and financial wellbeing engagement
At REBA’s recent webinar, Evolving financial wellbeing: money trends that are changing strategies, supported by Close Brothers, Browne Jacobson’s head of reward, Adam Fox-Everitt, said loans, pay advances and flexible pay were “the foundation of a business’s offering in terms of financial wellbeing”.
He added: “I think that’s probably the thing that most businesses have in place or could put in place reasonably quickly.”
His next suggestions would be education and possibly tailored coaching or financial advice.
Is a loan the best option?
Fox-Everitt conceded that debt could be an uncomfortable topic for employers, who were effectively the gatekeepers between employees and their desired loans. “We’ve looked at criteria and tried to create decision trees, and come up with different parameters for when we would or wouldn’t offer a loan, but ended up throwing it all away,” he said. “You just can’t account for every situation.”
Instead, he suggested approaching it from a principled view; a position of trust. Ask if the loan will help them build resilience and involve them in the conversation. Explain that you can’t get into a cycle of providing loans – that’s a situation no one wants to be in with their employer.
Poor money habits or their resilience status might mean that they are not offered the loan. “In this case, what we might offer,” said Fox-Everitt, “is a discussion about benefits and the different levers that people can pull within that proposition.
“What we will always do, whether we extend the loan or not, is offer them a 12-month coaching subscription for their money. So what we’re really trying to do is help them build resilience.”
Lend me your ears
People can’t be forced to accept help, although Fox-Everitt did have three top tips on how to engage your workforce.
1. Accessibility: your financial proposition must be communicated clearly; it has to be easy for employees to access when and where they want. Employers must also be aware that the target audience may be people who have negative feelings around money, and who don’t want to spend their evenings and weekends trawling through financial wellbeing jargon.
2. Focus: it helps to focus on outcomes. Rather than telling people they’re going on a training course to learn about debt, or to understand savings and risk, talk to them about holidays, life events or milestones. Discuss retirement with them. It can help to ground them and draw a connection to something real.
3. Keep at it: don’t be disheartened if employees aren’t rushing to take up your new wellbeing benefit; most people will engage when it’s relevant to them. Stick at it and keep promoting it – bring relevant information into annual reviews, or signpost resources when people go on parental leave or a long period of sickness absence.