Plan Sponsors’ Use of Financial Wellness Offerings Reaches Historical High

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LIVONIA, Michigan – (BUSINESS WIRE) – New data from Cogent Syndicated Fund Plan sponsors sharpen their focus on re-evaluating their investment menus and incorporating financial wellness programs. In contrast to last year, the plan sponsors devote less energy to reducing plan costs and adequately preparing participants for retirement. In direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, plan sponsors are now expanding access to investment advice and financial wellness programs to better support their participants. These and other findings come from Retirement Planscape®, an annual Cogent Syndicated ™ study by Escalent, a leading human behavior and analysis consultancy.

“Access to financial wellness programs is at an all-time high,” said Sonia Davis, senior product director at Escalent and lead author of the report. “Plan sponsors of all sizes are dramatically expanding their wellness offering, demonstrating the commitment organizations have to the overall financial health of their employees. This increasing use of financial wellness offers shows an opportunity for plan providers to distinguish themselves. ”

Financial wellness programs that help employees achieve their financial well-being by managing daily finances, meeting key long-term goals, and protecting themselves from important financial risks are now used by 49% of micro plans and 66% of small- Mid plans offered and 87% of large mega plans. Additionally, a greater number of DC plan sponsors rely on financial wellness programs from plan providers (50% versus 40% in 2020), with large mega plans indicating the greatest reliance (61%).

Track growth: plan sponsors with financial wellness programs

Plan size








Micro (




Small-Medium ($ 5 million –




Big-Mega (over $ 100 million)




Source: Eskalent. Convincing Syndicated. Retirement Planscape®. May 2021.

“DC plan vendors are clearly using financial wellness programs as an important lever to expand their relationships with plan sponsors and build customer loyalty,” said Linda York, senior vice president, Escalent. “These offerings are becoming more sophisticated, going beyond simple calculators and debt trackers, and designed to forecast future healthcare expenses and meet more holistic household and family needs.”

Once financial wellness programs are in place, the study shows that nearly half (45%) of DC plans measure the overall success of those offerings based on 401 (k) enrollment rates. Employee surveys and direct feedback serve as secondary evaluation criteria for the success of the program, which are mentioned by a third of the plan sponsors (34%). 401 (k) hardship penalties also serve as an important barometer between small-mid and large-mega plans, which coincides with the desire of these plan sponsors to keep assets in the plan.

About the Retirement Planscape®

Cogent Syndicated, a division of Escalent, conducted an online survey of a representative cross-section of 1,453,401 (k) plan sponsors from February 17 to March 24, 2021 by selecting and evaluating plan providers or evaluating and / or selecting investment managers / Investment options for 401 (k) plans. In determining the sampling scope for this study, Cogent relied on the most recent Form 5500 filings maintained by Judy Diamond Associates of ALM. To ensure that the population for this study is representative of the universe of 401 (k) plan sponsors, quotas were established during the data collection phase for key firmographic variables, including total plan assets, number of plan participants, industry, and geographic location. In order to compensate for specific deviations from the actual marketplace distribution, a minimum weighting was applied. The data have a margin of error of ± 2.52% at a confidence level of 95%. Upon request, Escalent will provide the exact wording of all survey questions.

About Escalent

Escalent is a leading human behavior and analytics consultancy specializing in industries facing disruption and business transformation. As catalysts of progress for more than 40 years, we transform data and insights into a deep understanding of what drives people. And we help companies translate these drivers into actions that build brands, improve customer experiences, and stimulate product innovation. Visit to see how we help shape the brands that are reshaping the world.

Sarah Keller, 734.779.6847

[email protected]

Source: Escalent

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