Employees seek financial, retirement advice in workplace
By Eileen Alt Powell
NEW YORK — Workers are increasingly looking for their employers to give them access to financial planning and retirement advice, according to a study being released on Monday.
MetLife’s annual employee benefits trend survey found that 49 percent of workers in 2007 were interested in getting advice at their workplace about saving for retirement, up from 38 percent in 2006. Those expressing interest in overall financial planning rose to 44 percent from 30 percent, the study found.
Bill Mullaney, president of MetLife’s institutional business, said the results reflect, in part, the aging of the work force and the greater interest by older workers in retirement preparedness.
Workers also expressed an interest in company-offered programs such as life and disability insurance because they "believe the employers do due diligence to secure arrangements that are, perhaps, more favorable than they (workers) could get on their own," he said.
The survey, conducted in the third quarter of last year, found that among worker concerns were dealing with a sudden income loss, finding the appropriate health insurance, earning enough "to make ends meet," job security and saving for a child’s education.
Workers liked trying to resolve these issues through their workplaces, they said, because they felt employers found better products like disability insurance at better prices than they could on their own. Many also appreciated the convenience of putting money away for retirement or paying for voluntary benefits through payroll deduction, the study found.
Mullaney said that besides providing a wider range of benefit offerings, many employers also were stepping up financial education programs.
It’s in part a recognition that benefits "are increasingly important factors in employees’ decisions to join a company and stay with it," he said. "There’s a strong link between those satisfied with benefits and their desire to be with employer 18 months from now."
The survey by MetLife Inc., an insurance and financial services company headquartered in New York, involved 1,380 full-time workers 21 and older and 1,652 employer benefit specialists. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percent.