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Building a Financial Wellness Program and Why You Don't Need to Do It All Yourself

During the creation of the iPhone in the mid-2000s, Apple employees were disappearing. An engineer could be working next to you one day, and the next day their chair would be empty. Steven Jobs was hand-picking the best and brightest people to work on the iPhone project. Jobs' managers did the recruiting and the script of being asked to join the iPhone team went like this, "You don’t really know us, but we’ve heard a lot about you, and we know you’re a brilliant engineer, and we want you to come work with us on a project we can’t tell you about. And we want you to do it now—today.”1 Getting the best people in key functions was crucial to the iPhone's success. Likewise, the success of the financial wellness programs that you offer plan sponsors will depend on your ability to clearly assign responsibilities and roles.

The steps to build a financial wellness program

Implementing a financial wellness program isn't a one-time event. It's a process. Ann Schleck & Co. identified the tactical steps to be done when creating and managing an end-to-end program. These steps can be categorized into four categories: research, strategy, implementation, and measure and assess. To see the steps in each category, download our Financial Wellness How-To Guide below.

You don’t need to do it all

In the process, there are 23 steps. You don’t have to do all these yourself. Recordkeepers and third-party providers offer expertise and resources to perform many of these tasks. To help you determine who is responsible for which tasks, you, a recordkeeper, a third-party provider or your plan sponsor client, we provide a worksheet on pages 14-15 of our Financial Wellness How-To Guide.   

click to enlarge


Worksheet on pages 14-15 of our Financial Wellness How-To Guide



Typical roles advisors perform

Regardless of whether you're working with a recordkeeper or a third party, there are several roles that are typically performed by DC specialist advisors, including:  

  • All the tasks listed above in the research category
  • Consult with plan sponsor to identify corporate objectives
  • Schedule and coordinate logistics for in-person sessions
  • Deliver group and one-on-one sessions
  • Document and organize attendance, feedback, and success measures for plan sponsor reports
  • Monitor and manage vendors (e.g., recordkeeper and/or third parties)
  • Share findings during plan sponsor committee meetings
  • Revise overall program strategy as needed

Defining roles of financial wellness providers

In Ann Schleck & Co.'s financial wellness research, 53% of advisors surveyed said they work with recordkeepers or third-party providers to offer financial wellness. Advisors carefully consider how and if they want to work with a third-party or recordkeeper on financial wellness. Most advisors are consistently involved in monitoring and delivering results to plan sponsors, which are the most critical tasks to demonstrate success and to be strategically involved.2

Below are tips for working with financial wellness providers:

  • If the plan sponsor is already working with a third party or recordkeeper on financial wellness, ask to attend the meetings to better understand success measures and program results
  • If you’re selecting a third-party solution, recordkeepers may need to be consulted regarding technology integration and reporting needs
  • If you’re using a recordkeeper or third-party solution, clearly articulate and document roles and responsibilities for everyone involved to avoid misunderstandings and to be in a position of leadership during the discussions

Advisors said they anticipate that financial wellness partnerships with recordkeepers and third parties will become increasingly important over the next five years.3 Evaluate the amount of time and effort it will take you to build your own financial wellness solution versus partnering with recordkeepers and/or third parties.


Work with the best

Like Steve Jobs did with the creation of the iPhone, find the best people and providers available to build your financial wellness program offerings and make sure everyone has clear roles and responsibilities.

Next Steps:

  1. Download the Financial Wellness How-To Guide below today
  2. Within one week, complete the form on pages 14-15 of the How-To Guide to determine roles for you, your providers and plan sponsors
  3. Within one month, identify one of your existing financial wellness programs, or a program in development. Meet with the provider and plan sponsor to clarify roles and responsibilities.

1The Secret Origin Story of the iPhone, The Verge, 6/13/17

2,3The Elephant in the Retirement Room—Financial Wellness Research, Ann Schleck & Co. and Hartford Funds, 2016

Hartford Funds has engaged Ann Schleck & Co. LLC to develop the materials referenced herein. Ann Schleck & Co. LLC is not an affiliate or subsidiary of Hartford Funds. 

Hartford Funds does not provide investment recommendations or advice.  Hartford Funds does not serve as a fiduciary. This material is for use by parties that satisfy the Sophisticated Counterparty Exception of the Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule.