Financial Education for Participants: Is it time to Outsource?

Sponsors may want to turn to these online education programs to provide FinEd as part of financial wellness solutions. Many online educational tools provide the basics on financial literacy, covering money management, budgeting, saving, investing and education about debt.

Plan sponsors often provide high quality, timely financial education for plan participants and it may be costing you. Planning, preparing and reviewing financial education (or FinEd) is an important task for sponsors and human resource officers. Yet, with changes to regulations around retirement benefits brought by the Secure Act 2.0, planning these resources may be getting less attention. We know benefits professionals benefit from suggestions on these topics. That’s why we’ve written articles reviewing and suggesting topics and presentation options.[1] But there is an new option emerging in FinEd – outsourcing these topics to web-based educational companies.  

First, some plan sponsors may be thinking about cutting their FinEd programs entirely. If that is a proposal tempting your company, there is research to suggest FinEd does more than increase retirement savings. The American Psychological Association found that 72% of all adults report feeling stressed about money, and that stress can cause physical symptoms that cause employees to miss work or reduce employee productivity. While only half of all employers offered some kind of financial education program for employees, in 2019 60% employees said they would be more inclined to stay at a company that offered financial wellness solutions.‍

As online learning advanced during the pandemic, many education programs began including educational materials outside of traditional learning. Sponsors may want to turn to these online education programs to provide FinEd as part of financial wellness solutions. Many online educational tools provide the basics on financial literacy, covering money management, budgeting, saving, investing and education about debt. Human resource professionals may already be familiar with some of these sources, as they may use them for offering employee education and professional advancement. Including financial education or personal finance information for employees may be as simple as making these courses known to employees through Intranet or regular emails to employees on financial wellness offerings on these platforms. Here are a few plan sponsors may want to consider.

Additionally, some of these classes include a certificate of completion. For human resource offices that already have employee perks for wellness activities, including these financial classes may be an interesting option. For example, if your company already has a perk program for using a pedometer or for attending mindfulness programs, you may want to include these classes as attendance can easily be monitored through the certificates. Here are details on a few of those outside education programs.

Khan Academy, known for its online learning programs for kindergarten through high school, now includes financial literacy programs. These programs have been highly rated by financial literacy groups. These programs are free. They are also self-paced, meaning employees can learn in a flexible time frame. Additionally, many employees may already be familiar with Khan through their children’s schools.[2]

EdX, used by colleges and universities like Harvard University for their educational extension programs, also provides financial literacy classes. They cover a “wide range of courses covering beginner concepts, like interest rates and bookkeeping, as well as more complex ideas.” For example, EdX FinEd programs include courses from Indiana University on the five c’s of credit. Most of these programs are free.[3] Some programs have a certificate option, which requires a fee. Other platforms like ALISON,[4] short for Advanced Learning Interactive Systems Online, follows a similar set up. ALISON’s programs are less well known, but plan sponsors may find personal finance basics covered in these classes, including how to manage multiple debt sources.

Coursera also offers personal finance courses.[5] Some of these courses may be more specific and hands on than the Khan Academy or EdX programs. Coursera classes include the basics of personal finance and more specific retirement planning education topics like understanding risk. They also include classes on creating a budget with Excel and creating a budget with Google Sheets.

Udemy also offers personal finance classes.[6] They cover basics of personal finance, as well as more specific topics, like saving for college. While Coursera classes tend to stick to a one hour block, Udemy classes are longer, some are three hours long. Not all of Udemy’s classes are free, but many are low cost. Sponsors may want to consider suggesting specific classes to plan participants as Udemy’s catalog of classes is extensive.

Skillshare also has financial education classes, many of which cover personal finance in depth. Some of these classes are shorter, and may help employees make the most of their limited time and resources. Some Skillshare classes are free, others have a cost associated with them. However, many companies already have corporate accounts with Skillshare and may only need to suggest specific courses to plan participants.







These articles are prepared for general purposes and are not intended to provide advice or encourage specific behavior. Before taking any action, Advisors and Plan Sponsors should consult with their compliance, finance and legal teams.

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