6 strategies to improve financial literacy

We sat down with three of our Certified Financial Planners to talk financial literacy.

It’s no secret that Americans struggle with their finances. A study found that only one-third of adults could answer at least four of five financial literacy questions on fundamental concepts such as mortgages, interest rates, inflation, and risk. Despite this, over 20% of Americans don’t feel like they have anyone they trust when they have questions about finance. This is the gap we're trying to fill at Origin. We have an incredible network of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) professionals who guide employees toward their financial goals and educate them along the way. Since April is Financial Literacy Month, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to sit down with three of our experts:

  • David Barta, CFA, CFP®, Lead Financial Planner 
  • Heather Comella, CFP®, Lead Financial Planner
  • David Blaylock, CFP®, Head of Financial Planning and Advice

They provided us with their best insights, recommendations, and resources when it comes to the topic of financial literacy. Whether you’re an employee looking to better understand your finances or an HR leader wanting to help your workforce with these issues, this article is worth the read.

Recommendations to improve financial literacy

In addition to providing personalized guidance to Origin members, our CFP® professionals also place a lot of importance on educating employees. Helping people understand their financial situations, rather than just blindly following a professional's advice, is a crucial step to building financial literacy. Here’s what they recommend to improve financial literacy.

For employees

Take control of your education

All of our CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals encourage employees to invest some time in learning about finances. “Most members have just never taken any time to research, and a little time spent on the topic will greatly improve their knowledge,” says Barta. If you're overwhelmed by all the available resources, he has a few recommendations to get you started. “Besides our own great articles, I will point people to Charles Schwab for goal planning, this U.S. News & World Report article for investing principles, Wealthsimple for investing basics, and Vanguard for low-cost investing. Dave Ramsey also has a lot of great content around budgeting.”

Look for the proper credentials

Comella has a word of caution when taking charge of your education.

“Before you start listening to anyone giving investment advice, understand that there are some people who may stand to profit if you listen to their advice.”

That's why it's essential to look for fiduciaries, which are people or organizations required to provide advice in the member's best interest. This is the industry's highest standard, and all CFP® certificate holders are held to the fiduciary standard.

Apply your learnings to your financial situation. 

Many of us learn by doing. But frequently, people view financial matters as intimidating and shy away from engaging with their finances. According to Blaylock, applying your learnings to your own financial situation is one of the best ways to improve your financial literacy. And you don’t have to do anything big or fancy to get started.“The best place to start is to review and monitor your financial condition regularly. This can be something as simple as understanding your cash flow and compensation or learning more about investing. I encourage people to ask questions of professionals and work with those that are willing to help them learn more about a topic.”

For employers

Recognize the value of financial wellness

As a company, being supportive starts with acknowledging that your workforce needs help with their finances. The more HR leaders can educate their leadership team about the benefits of financial wellness, the more likely an organization is to invest in the right resources.

“Just as physical health is important to job performance, so is financial health. By partnering with professionals that specialize in the area of financial wellness, employers can help employees remove distractions from the workplace and help them make the most of their compensation and benefits,” says Blaylock.

Get employees started on the right foot

Organizations can play a huge role when it comes to setting their employees up for financial success. All it takes, explains Comella, is a bit of investment in educating workers about their compensation and benefits, and the best ways to manage them.“The opportunity to get in front of a new hire and explain their compensation, how it will impact their life, and how to best set up their financial life for success is gold. At this stage, you can proactively take steps to start them on the right track.”

Use the right tools

Helping employees with their finances is a full-time job—and one HR teams don’t have time to do. That’s why, whether it’s a budgeting app or a more comprehensive platform like Origin, choosing the right tools is essential.

How Origin can help

Of course, we think Origin is great. But you may want to hear directly from our CFP® professionals about why they believe Origin is uniquely positioned to help employees improve their financial wellness. Here’s what they had to say: “Origin is the right answer at the right time. We have a very experienced team of financial planners that we’ve combined with technology tools to scale and serve everyone at a high level. Our pricing model allows us to provide our services to members that traditionally wouldn’t have the assets required to afford this level of service,” says Comella. “At Origin, we look at all areas of a person’s financial life. We are looking beyond their 401(k) or benefits package to provide financial guidance that addresses not only where they are currently at but where they want to be. In addition to this holistic view, our planners are experienced, and they leverage that experience to work with members in a number of key areas to make sure the person is in a better position from working with our team,” says Blaylock.

“We give unbiased guidance, don't sell anything, and work with all members regardless of net worth. There are many 'slimy' advisors out there, so when members realize they can trust us, they breathe a huge sigh of relief. Since we don't just work with wealthy members, we can have a broad impact on every employee,” says Barta.

We’re grateful to our incredible CFP® professionals for taking the time to share their knowledge with us! If you’re interested in learning more about Origin’s comprehensive financial wellness platform, request a demo.


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