Financial wellness is becoming an integral part of be(com)ing healthy & happy. As a result, every company could play a role in this.
Welcome to “A Healthusiasm World”, a newsletter by Christophe Jauquet on making customers healthy & happy.
Discover how both healthcare and consumer companies are experience-driven health businesses now.
Learn what's next for customer experience, purpose-driven marketing, and digital health.
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Looking at my own financial reality in the past two years often gave me Financial drowsiness. It felt like the tide with its ebbs and flows, but without the romantic feel. It looked like an electrocardiogram but without a steady heartbeat. I don’t think I was the only entrepreneur looking for some Financial Wellness. But it sure made me realise how much we need this. More about this in this newsletter
With the let-go of covid-measures, business flows again with a steady heartbeat. So, feel free to invite me to your seminar, client event, conference or team inspiration day. If you want to know more, do reach out to me. In the meantime, I’m happy to share with you my main topics. Click on the image for more information on the actual keynotes.
We don’t talk about money. That’s how it used to be, at least. It was sitting on the bench alongside the uncool kids like sex, death, and politics. It was not done to share your salary, just like it was not ok to discuss your sexual preference or to ask about one’s feelings about death. Even in holy books, the love for money was considered the root of all evil.
Money makes us sick
Money is still a sensitive topic today. It is the subject of many political debates, none the least, because money is the source of inequality between, for example, sexes, races, and ages. Money is, therefore, also considered one of the most significant stressors in our society. And in general, Covid-19 and the surging gas prices did not positively contribute to this. Plenty of articles indicates that most people claim to have more financial stress than one year ago. While on the same website, you will also read about people joining the F.I.R.E. movement, stock markets celebrating new heights, people getting rich with Ethereum, Polkadot and Terra, or paying loads of money for Bored Apes, CryptoPunks or Cool Cats. Not understanding the impact of hyper frugality, investments, bitcoins, or NFTs already causes anxiety to many (did you feel the anxiety kicking in just now?).
Money is an important root of stress. It makes us sick. A report by Thriving Wallet found that financial stress affects physical health, with blood pressure, respiratory symptoms, tension and other physical or mental problems becoming more common. This might even turn into a vicious circle. The U.K.'s Money and Mental Health Institute study found that people with anxiety and depression were three times more likely to be in debt.
The Healthusiasm Trend
The global Healthusiasm movement is changing the tide. More than ever, people want to live healthier and happier lives. We focus more on self-care and wellness than ever before. This macro trend goes beyond the ‘looking good feeling good’ image it was easily associated with. Today, it looks at all aspects of an unhealthy society and, in the process, also tackles the uncool kids that previously were not talked about: sex, death, and indeed, money.
Financial health & Financial well-being
Discussions on health & well-being are bon ton today. But there is often confusion about what Financial Health and Financial Well-being mean because neither of those terms actually takes into account the true health & well-being of the individual.
· Financial Health is considered the amount of money one possesses and what he or she plans to do with it. It says something about the health of one’s finances, nothing about one’s health.
· Financial Well-being explains to what extent someone can fully meet current or future financial obligations. It indicates how much freedom one has to make choices to enjoy life and how secure one feels with the financial outlook. Financial Well-being neither considers one’s health.
The term that refers to our relationship with money, including all the deeper issues that negatively affect that relationship, is Financial Wellness. It approaches Finance as something more than just countability. It is rather about the why than the what. But while the term has been around for a while, it has evolved over the years.
Financial Wellness was a human resources buzzword until recently. It indicated the existence of financial benefits offered by the employer, something which has been (and still is) high in demand. According to a survey by Betterment, over two-thirds of Americans would prefer financial wellness benefits to an extra week of vacation. Group life insurance, disability benefit, financial education, or bonus optimization all fall under this category. Employees are handed the keys to becoming Financially Healthy or achieving Financial Well-being. In doing so, employers boost employee productivity while lowering medical costs or absenteeism.
Financial Wellness 2.0
However, Financial Wellness goes beyond financial benefits today. It is increasingly being considered an integral component of a person’s health & well-being. We understand that we need to be emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially well to become the best possible version of ourselves. Financial Wellness is no longer (just) about having more financial means or benefits. Instead of being more financially healthy, people start asking themselves differently, perhaps more relevant, questions about their life aspirations.
“Life aspirations are the new customer needs.”
I mention in all my keynote how life aspirations are the new customer needs. It indicates a more significant meaning than the mere need to accumulate goods or money. There is a ‘why’ to it. The true ‘why’ or ‘life aspiration’ behind achieving Financial Wellness is what really will drive people tomorrow.
One such life aspiration that is very dominantly present today is ‘Freedom & Autonomy’. It relates to the question, “How can I make money doing the things I love?” It got heavily accelerated by the pandemic and even sparked the Great Resignation. People no longer just want to work for a company that pays well. They want to do what they love doing and make enough money from it.
Financial Wellness has shifted from setting financial goals to meeting life goals. And like other wellness practices, it is a long-term goal that requires daily routines. Dedicating time to go over your financial wellness should be planned similarly to meditation, face mask sessions, or healthy eating. It’s an active process of becoming aware and making choices toward a healthy & happy life. I’m conscious that this may sound a bit out of this world for some. But then again, any significant life moment, from marrying to buying a house or retiring, already require financial planning. So how about applying a similar approach to optimize your Financial Wellness in your everyday life. In the end, it’s not that different.
The Healthusiasm Take
Financial Wellness is a term that mainly has been linked to human resources. It refers to the financial benefits offered by the employer. This will still be the case tomorrow. If anything, I expect that financial benefits will become even more critical in the war for talent. The great resignation has been caused by people valuing work they love over a job that pays better. So, one can only try to remunerate employees even better to maintain them. But this approach is only a band-aid.
Financial Wellness plays a more important role in the quest for overall wellness in life. It’s becoming a critical building block for leading a healthy & happy life. That’s why employers are reflecting upon ways to meet these changing aspirations. For example, some companies are already moving towards on-demand access to personal financial guidance and mentorship. I love these initiatives because they turn existing services into more experiences. That’s already one valuable step. But how can we now turn these experiences into customer transformations? What experiences would make people feel better, healthier, and happier? What life aspirations should they help to fulfill? That is the real value employers are to be providing.
But it doesn’t stop with employers. Financial Wellness goes beyond benefits and compensations. It impacts commercial banks, insurance companies, Mutualities or sick funds, credit companies, investment and pension funds, charities, mortgage firms and brokers, fintech, and even governments. They all should think about what this Financial Wellness trend means for the value they provide. What’s their contribution, beyond financial health, to people's overall health & happiness?
Here are some examples of early initiatives: Insurance company Oscar Health paid members for walking 10.000 steps per day while many other insurers experiment with lower premiums for active people. Insurance company Prudential collaborated with Virgin Pulse, a digital wellness company, to extend financial wellness into overall health management. Commercial bank Alpha bank experimented with higher interest rates for people who work out, and Discovery Bank, the world’s first behavioral bank, presents financial incentives to help customers curate and sustain healthier lifestyles. Paceline, the company that also rewards healthy behaviors with cashback for health & wellness spending, now has a credit card as well for these spending on gyms, supermarkets, pharmacies, and athleisure brands. Fintech start-ups like Happy Money evaluate “happy” and “sad” spending patterns, while ZavFit helps people spend their money on what makes them healthy & happy. Honey Bee and Origin provide financial therapy for all.
But I want to leave you with an amazing example from outside the financial world. The Knot, a wedding planner company, not only serves couples with conversations around mental health and relationship care before, during, and after the wedding. The company now also provides personal financial training to increase the financial wellness of the newlyweds. Finance has always been an important topic in critical life events such as marriage, buying a home, or retirement. These moments indeed are a great moment to start with a more holistic Financial Wellness approach.
What is your ‘big’ moment to start to think about a Financial Wellness offer?
And what could be the 'big' moment in healthcare to incorporate 'Financial Wellness 2.0'? Finance is often a huge lever or roadblock in access to healthcare. The national healthcare systems in many countries bear a large chunk of healthcare expenditures to tackle this problem. Private health insurance may also finance parts of that bill. But this century-old system has been under pressure for several decades now. Affordability is under pressure and is reducing the reimbursement of health expenditures. The experience with these institutions or companies leaves much to be desired, which often leads to more frustration than relief. It is not wrong to say that little effective work is being done on the financial wellness of people within the healthcare system.
So that leaves me wondering: what will financial wellness 2.0 look like in healthcare?
Feel free to reach out to start that discussion with me.
Keynote speaker on health business