Financial worry is the leading stress inducer for more than 70% of Americans, with younger population segments being affected the most. This stress gets carried forward at work and has a significant impact on employee productivity causing businesses to lose billions each week. Workers, especially millennials and Gen-Zs, are looking at employers to offer access to financial wellness tools. Financial wellbeing strengthens employee engagement and productivity at work resulting in low staff turnover, and allowing businesses to attract top-tier talent.
Financial wellness tools include a collection of platforms and applications designed to improve the financial health of the end-user. Financial health refers to the state of an individual’s financial position, defined largely by one's net worth, level of savings, financial preparedness, and debt. These tools can either be provided as an employee benefit to improve the financial wellbeing of staff or are available as apps to be downloaded and used directly by the consumer.
Technological developments such as open banking APIs have allowed third-party developers to build applications that integrate with users’ bank accounts, allowing them to analyze transactions, provide contextual advice, and automate actions such as payment of bills and debt.
Companies offering platforms for employers to provide financial wellness as an employee benefit account for the majority of companies in the industry. Offerings range from financial coaching, tools to manage personal finances, financial support (such as low-cost emergency funds or earned wage access), to mechanisms to help employees manage their debt, particularly student loans.
As of August 2021, disruptors and watchlist companies identified across the employee benefits segments had attracted more than USD 1.4 billion in funding. Companies that provide business-to-consumer (B2C) applications for budgeting, saving money, and lowering expenses had raised in excess of USD 490 million as of the same date. Most startups in this space are in their early or growth stages and have been established over the last decade.
Incumbents that offer benefit platforms are largely financial services companies who also use these platforms to market their own financial or investment products to employees.
Incumbents in this space mostly include financial services companies, who are developing their own platforms that provide employers with resources for financial education and other personalized solutions to improve the financial health of its staff. The incumbents also use these platforms to market their own core products such as debt and investment products to potential users. In addition, the incumbents also include companies that provide HR related tech such as payroll management, and employee wellness solutions who have developed solutions for employee financial wellness.
Most incumbents have entered this space using internally developed products, with the exception of Morgan Stanley, Intuit, and KeyBank, who acquired companies already operating in this space. UBS partners with student loan management platform provider FutureFuel.io to bolster its own offerings.