VOL. 132 | NO. 133 | Thursday, July 6, 2017
SunTrust to Launch Financial Wellness Program
By Andy Meek
Physical fitness initiatives have become an increasingly familiar part of corporate life, from employee health risk assessments to offering financial incentives to improve wellness. SunTrust Banks Inc. wants to help companies offer a twist on that concept – fiscal wellness.
The financial giant is preparing to roll out in Memphis its Momentum onUp program, a not-for-profit financial wellness initiative designed to help companies in Memphis and elsewhere offer financial wellness education to their workers.
The program has been piloted by more than 40 large and small companies across the Southeast U.S. They include Home Depot, Waffle House and Delta Air Lines. The program includes a mix of on-site training and online resources, and according to SunTrust’s survey of participants, more than 80 percent of respondents said afterward that they now feel more in control of their finances.
“We’re getting ready to really push this in Memphis, and we’ve touched about 11,000 people so far through the program,” said SunTrust Memphis president and CEO Johnny Moore. “For companies in Memphis that want to participate, it’s pretty simple. They basically just have to call me, and we’ll have a conversation about how they want to get this done.”
The “how” to be answered is what level of involvement the companies want to have with the program. It can be on the more basic side, with SunTrust providing the reference material and the companies using it for “self-study,” as Moore explains. The companies can also have one of SunTrust’s instructors lead sessions for the companies remotely. SunTrust will also send its instructors out to do training on site.
“Basically, we’re just trying to help people understand their financial well-being and help them be more successful by relieving the financial stress that’s a big part of their overall stress profile,” Moore said. “And we teach everything.
“There are probably 10 to 12 modules, and it starts from understanding how to reconcile a checking account, to setting up a budget, to what are you doing for your 401(k), to do you have proper insurance coverage – how much life insurance do you have? And then going in deep. It covers everything from setting up checking accounts to setting up trust accounts.”
SunTrust bought the intellectual property of an employeeå program and hired the company’s founder, financial expert Brian Ford, to build the Momentum onUp curriculum. The program was first piloted by 15,000 SunTrust employees, and SunTrust matched up to $1,000 for its employees to help build their emergency savings as part of the program.
About his own company’s participation in the program, McKee Foods Corp. president and CEO Mike McKee said that Momentum onUp “gives us a valuable resource that not only helps our people understand where their financial life is today, but also lets them put a stake in the ground for their family’s future.”
When SunTrust surveyed early participants in the program, it found that among other things, employees living by a budget had increased from 43 percent to 87 percent and those with emergency savings went from 68 percent to 98 percent. Employees also said they’d increased their investment contributions for retirement by 35 percent.
“Financial distress is here,” Moore said. “It’s real in America, and being a bank we said we want to try to deal with it.”