Spectrum Logo
A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

Personal-finance employee education subject of Hotel Roanoke conference

By Sandy Broughton

Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 10 - October 30, 1997

Employer-sponsored retirement plans, investments, credit and money management, consumer laws and regulations: In the 1990s, people are expected to know about these topics and to manage their personal finances effectively. But where can they learn what they need to know?
Increasingly, the responsibility of providing personal-finance education and services is falling to employers--not only because they have access to the resources that can make such programs a valuable employee benefit, but also because it saves them money in the long run by increasing employee satisfaction and improving productivity. Like programs many corporations now offer employees in substance-abuse counseling and health and fitness, programs in personal-finance employee education (PFEE) are proving to be a valuable investment for employers and a sought-after benefit for employees.
In fact, personal-finance employee education is emerging as one of the most critical issues facing employers today, due in large part to E. Thomas Garman's groundbreaking research on the subject. Garman, a professor of consumer affairs and family financial management in the College of Human Resources and Education, is heading a nation-wide effort to increase awareness of the problems created by poor financial behavior by employees and the way in which employer-sponsored "financial wellness" programs can help.
On Wednesday and Thursday, November 5 and 6, a conference titled Personal Finance Employee Education: Best Practices, will be held at the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center. Participants will have the opportunity to share research information, and resources that promote the best practices of personal finance and employee education in the private and non-profit sectors, with the twin goals of increasing employee productivity and the employer's bottom line. Speakers will include more than 30 experts from industry, academia, and government. Speakers include Don M. Blandin, president, American Savings Education Council; Ann Foster, economist, Division of Compensation Levels and Trends, Bureau of Labor Statistics; Peter J. Darby, Bureau of Personnel Management, Department of the U.S. Navy; Kristen Bender, associate consultant, Watson Wyatt; Jane Schuchardt, national program leader, Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture; Judith Cohart, vice president, National Foundation for Consumer Credit; Grady Cash, president, Center for Financial Well-Being; Madeleine d'Ambrosio, vice president, TIAA-CREF; William Pomeroy, president, The EDSA Group; Ray DiPaula, corporate retiree relations manager, United Parcel Service; Edie S. Milligan, president, Keeping Track, Inc.; Marysue J. Wechsler, vice president, the PFE Group, Inc.; and J.B. Maxwell, first vice president, Gruntal and Company.
Topics will include employer-sponsored retirement plans, employee benefits, credit and money management, consumer laws and regulations, and financial education and worker productivity. Model programs discussed will include the U.S. Navy's personal financial-management program.
Garman, who is hosting the PFEE conference, has done extensive research in the areas of personal finance and worker productivity. "A growing number of employers now realize that financial education is a key factor in both recruitment and retention," Garman said. "Workers who overuse credit and mismanage their personal finances are costly to their employers because they are overstressed, which results in absences, overuse of health-care resources, more accidents, and poor workplace morale. They also are less likely to participate in an employer's retirement plan. In contrast, the best workers typically are people who are in control of their personal finances and who maximize their pension contributions. These employees are happier with their financial lives and it shows in their work. Personal financial wellness increases employee productivity, and our `best practices' conferences will prove it beyond a doubt."
The conference is sponsored by the Commonwealth of Virginia and Virginia Tech's Center for Organizational and Technological Advancement (COTA), an outreach program established to foster economic development and continuing-education initiatives with a special emphasis on connecting university research to the needs of Virginia's industrial, commercial, governmental, and professional organizations.
For information, contact Garman at 1-6677; fax: 1-3250; or e-mail: pfee@vt.edu. The full conference program, information on presentations, and registration materials are also available on the PFEE Web site.