Retirement Plan Sponsors Could Expand Financial Wellness Programs in 2024

In a recent article from REMY SAMUELS explores what will likely be the continued expansion of the financial wellness programs benefit in 2024.

The concept of retirement savings has broadened over the last year beyond just contributing to a retirement account. Plan sponsors are increasingly including financial wellness advice and offering non-retirement benefits such as emergency savings and student loan repayments as part of their overall packages. 

David Stinnett, a principal in Vanguard and its head of strategic retirement consulting, says he thinks 2024 will be “another year of positive trends.” 

“We expect it to be another year of maturation of the concept of total financial wellness,” Stinnett says. “I think that’s only going to pick up tempo in 2024 because of the SECURE [2.0] Act [of 2022] provisions.” 

In addition to mandatory provisions that will go into effect in 2024, such as the end of required minimum distributions for participants in Roth 401(k)s, several of the optional provisions in SECURE 2.0 will also go into effect. These include the option for plan sponsors to offer matching 401(k) contributions for those making qualified student loan payments, as well as two types of emergency savings accounts. 

“I think plan sponsors … are always reviewing their suite of employee benefits to make sure not only that they’re effective, but also that they are competitive and useful in attracting and retaining the workers that they most want to have,” Stinnett says. “I think, given the prevalence of student loan debt among the American workforce, that is [a benefit] that [plan sponsors are] going to have a lot of focus on.” 

Stinnett says plan sponsors have been reaching out to Vanguard in the past year, asking how to add the optional provisions and what administrative steps they need to take.  

Additionally, while the IRS granted sponsors a two-year extension on implementing the mandatory Roth catch-up contributions, Stinnett says it is important that plan sponsors prioritize this provision before allocating resources to the optional provisions.  

Increased Personalization 

Another trend Stinnett predicts will continue in 2024 is increased personalization when it comes to plan design and the investment menu, in particular the concept of the tiered investment structure. This is when investments are organized into multiple tiers, and each tier represents a subset of investments from which a participant can choose. 

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Copper Leaf Financial, LLC is a fee-only, registered investment advisor, serving clients nationwide from offices in Williston and Rutland, VT. One of the firm’s main areas of focus is on providing 401k retirement plan solutions for businesses. Copper Leaf is part of a group that serves more than 1,500 retirement plans and is helping over 50,000 Americans on their journey to retirement.  Our approach is based on a simple fiduciary promise: to do what’s right for you, your company and your employees, no matter what. In addition to building new plans we offer employers with existing retirement plans a complementary second opinion on the health of their plan.