How does the rule affect workplace financial wellness programs?
faq 2020-01-15

The DOL rule is in the spirit of what workplace financial wellness programs

have been addressing since they were first launched: offering unbiased

financial guidance and coaching to employees so they can make wiser,

informed decisions. As more employers become aware of the

responsibilities under the Fiduciary Rule, we expect that an increasing

number will adopt comprehensive workplace financial wellness programs as

well as utilize financial wellness technology tools. Financial wellness

programs in the workplace are compatible with, and support, the DOL goals

of supporting financial education and empowering consumers of financial

products and services.

The rule specifically gives “financial education” as an example of something

which is not considered an investment recommendation. This means that

employers who offer financial wellness programs can continue to

offer comprehensive and holistic financial education, guidance and coaching

to employees. Financial wellness programs can continue to help employees

understand their benefits, including their retirement plans and HSAs.

The rule also better clarifies that retirement plan sponsors and providers can

offer guidance and education funds within the employer-sponsored

plan. Under the rule, it appears that education programs must be strictly

educational and unbiased as not to appear to be making an investment

recommendation. Benefits professionals who administer employersponsored

retirement plans may choose to offer comprehensive financial

education as a complement to investor education from the retirement plan

provider. This is positive for the growth of workplace financial wellness as

an employee benefit and as an emerging industry.

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