You’ve received an exciting email message or an eye-catching brochure announcing that your company is offering employees financial wellness benefits. Now what? Is this the best employee benefit you may not have heard of which will give you unbiased guidance to improve your financial wellbeing– or is someone just trying to sell you something?

What’s the catch?

Many companies who now describe themselves as financial wellness providers are financial service companies whose revenue comes from the sale of financial products and services. Financial service companies want to sell you something. That’s their whole point! They may want to sell you insurance or investment management, get you to buy products through an employee purchase program, or persuade you to take a loan that you repay with your paycheck. (I’ve also seen student loan repayment benefits described as “financial wellness” programs.)

I’m not criticizing financial service companies. They play a critical role in our economy and our personal finances. I have brokerage accounts, credit cards and mortgages, just like you. Many of the large firms who are now rebranding as financial wellness providers have dedicated, ethical, well-trained advisors. However, don’t you think there could be an ulterior motive when financial sales professionals are teaching workshops or meeting 1 x 1 with employees?

Luckily, there are unbiased financial wellness benefit providers

Other companies aren’t trying to get you to become their customer. There are unbiased financial wellness firms who aren’t going to give you a sales pitch and focus all their attention on offering guidance, tools and coaching to help you achieve your financial goals. There is also a growing trend among 401(k) advisors to use an unbiased financial wellness partner incorporated into the retirement plan program

How to tell the difference?

A true financial wellness program is an employer-paid benefit that offers personalized financial guidance and coaching to all employees – without a sales pitch. If it’s the real deal, a financial wellness program offers:

  • Different ways for you to use the benefit such as workshops, webcasts, telephone and live coaching, as well as online learning
  • Integration with all your other employee benefits and helps you maximize them to achieve your goals
  • Access to experienced financial coaches with respected credentials like the Certified Financial Planner™ or CPA/PFS designations
  • Ways for you to benchmark and measure success

Remember, financial wellness isn’t something you can buy – it’s something you do

Read the rest of Cynthia Meyer’s article at Forbes