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Money Matters — Financial Wellness Takes Center Stage

Our world has shifted in ways we could not have imagined, and employers are faced with the task of maintaining a happy, healthy and productive workforce despite the uncertainty.

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It’s no secret that this last year has changed the way we work.


While our world has shifted in ways we previously could not have imagined, employers are faced with a herculean task; maintaining a happy, healthy and productive workforce despite the uncertainty.

In order to accomplish this task, people leaders have revamped benefits programs, wellness initiatives and rewards strategies seemingly overnight. Fortunately, investments in robust wellbeing initiatives have driven positive outcomes as companies were thrust into the future of
work.

Early in the pandemic, benefits updates naturally focused on physical and mental wellbeing. However, new insights strongly suggest that while physical and mental wellness benefits are critical, offering these alone leaves gaps in alleviating employees’ number one source of stress— their personal finances.


2020 was a challenging financial year for employees everywhere. SHRM recently reported that more than two-thirds of employees experienced a financial setback last year while nearly 40% of employees indicated they will spend all of 2021 in financial “survival mode.” The statistics around financial stress and its impact on job performance is shocking. Financially stressed employees are 4.0x as likely to be depressed, 2.2x as likely to leave the company and are significantly less productive.

Even companies that thrived throughout the pandemic recognize the value of supporting employees’ financial situations holistically as money management is often a family affair. An employee at a growing company might be on solid ground at work, but may be facing trying times with loss of income for their household due to a partner out of work, additional expenses incurred through child care or as employed partners need to leave their jobs to provide care.

Fortunately, as employers are focusing on new wellness initiatives, modern solutions providing cutting edge, personalized financial support for employees are emerging. These innovations replace legacy financial wellness solutions that have historically fallen short. These legacy offerings were generally content based or put employees in the compromising position of being “sold-to.” New solutions are disrupting this market by providing a combination of free Certified Financial Planners alongside cutting edge platforms to help employees of all backgrounds create and implement detailed financial plans.

PeopleTech Partners’ portfolio company, Origin, is one such example of a benefit provider pushing the financial wellness industry forward. Origin was founded on the belief that financial planning should be accessible to everyone at every stage of life. It is the first integrated solution that helps employees manage compensation, benefits and personal finances in a single place – side by side with financial professionals.

The company is backed by leading investors like Founders Fund, Felicis and General Catalyst and is already making a massive impact for the future of work, helping employees at companies like Chime, Nextdoor, KeepTruckin, and Udemy.

PeopleTech Partners sat down with Matt Watson, co-founder and CEO of Origin, to learn more about the company’s origin story and what makes him so passionate about their mission to help democratize access to financial planning.

What gave you the idea to start Origin?

Origin was started after I went broke building my first business. I looked for financial help, but quickly realized that financial planning services were only available to those who were already wealthy.


The system was broken and it became clear that someone needed to help regular, hard-working people make the most out of their paychecks.

Our mission at Origin is to improve peoples’ lives by enabling everyone we work with to make better decisions about their money, improve their financial future and to feel more confident and certain along the way. We accomplish this by creating the easiest, fastest and most transparent way to receive and act upon unbiased and holistic financial guidance, with an approach that meets people where they are with 1:1 support from financial professionals and tools to actually take action toward their plan.

Who benefits from your solution?

Origin is the first comprehensive money management platform for the modern workforce designed to support employees across stages, needs and locations. We’re an integrated solution that provides a single place for employees to understand the value of their cash, equity and benefits in the context of their unique personal financial situation and goals – side by side with financial professionals.


We also work in close partnership with a company’s People and Benefits teams to deliver on financial wellness, compensation, benefit and equity event related initiatives to ensure holistic and ongoing support. At our partner companies, we act as the main resource for employees and the
employer on all things money.

Tell us more about what makes Origin unique.

Origin combines cutting edge financial technology with a people-first approach. From a service delivery aspect, Origin understands that developing a 1-on-1 relationship with a Planner can be critical for employees to gain the trust and support needed to enact change and ensure they are able to take action toward a brighter financial future.


Employees also have access to the most comprehensive financial wellness platform in the industry. The Origin platform allows employees to manage their personal finances, employee benefits and equity compensation. With our platform employees can build financial plans, save, invest, budget, understand the value of equity, file taxes and more.

These aspects of the Origin professional Planning services combined with our robust proprietary money management platform and financial wellness education tools means Origin serves as a single place for employees to manage their entire financial lives and employee benefits, with professional guidance every step of an often complicated journey toward financial success.

What are some examples of companies leveraging your tool?

Origin works extensively with innovative, people-first focused tech employers like Chime, Nextdoor, Udemy, Fuze, Webflow, MasterClass, Modern Health, Namely, Greenhouse and KeepTruckin. The common thread amongst our customers is a focus on supporting their people and a recognition that people are a company’s largest asset.


Each of our clients views Financial Wellness as a proactive, problem-solving solution vs. an “EAP-style” employee benefit. In fact, at many of our customers, Origin has become the number one most utilized benefit outside of the health plan.

What have you learned from your users and customers so far?

As we built Origin, we knew the existing system hadn’t been set up to help people succeed, and have learned that employees often need help through critical life events at levels that may be difficult (or inappropriate) for employers and People teams to provide individual support. Most significant life events come with key financial considerations or impacts, from navigating a growing family, company equity events, job transitions, personal illness, or as last year showed us in spades – unprecedented global events.

Furthermore, financial stress is a huge burden. 60% of employees say that finances are their #1 source of stress. It is clear that financial wellness is important, now more than ever.

We have also learned that employers want to help their employees better manage their money and to make the most of the compensation and benefits they work so hard to earn and provide. Origin’s modern approach is the best way to provide financial wellness benefits at scale and is having big impacts for employees and employers at a critical inflection point for the future of work.

What would you like to say to People leaders who are thinking of using your platform?

Personal finances have become even more complicated over the past year. As one example, the immediate transition to remote work across sectors has resulted in employees working from new locations, in new ways, with new, unforeseen and often directly financial challenges. Complex tax considerations, abandoned or adjusted financial goals, personal losses, new and challenging money needs — your employees are going through it all, and often all at once. Relying on the generalized or minimal financial wellness benefits seen in the market to date just isn’t going to move the needle enough to ensure your teams have the support they need.

Modern Financial Wellness has to deliver at the personal level, holistically across all things money. Origin is the only benefit prepared to do this, and we are fully committed to bringing a brighter financial future to employees everywhere.

As a founder, what has been most challenging for you or your company?

The term and benefits seen under the category of “financial wellness” have historically underdelivered in drastic ways. Because our approach is unique, and significantly more robust, at Origin we are constantly considering the best ways to share what the Origin Benefit is in relation to other offerings. Part financial wellness. Part total rewards. Part tax advice, mental health, and critical life event support – Origin is delivering a holistic and important benefit that goes beyond traditional offerings and is setting new standards for financial wellness.

What has been the most fun or rewarding?

Without a doubt, talking to our users is the most rewarding part of building Origin. We’re helping people with challenges that they thought they couldn’t overcome. In almost every situation, we’re the first person someone has ever really spoken to about their money.

Hearing the reaction when people engage with Origin makes all of the long nights worth it.

What’s next for you and Origin?

Everything we do at Origin is centered around our customers, both the employers we partner with and the employees we serve directly. We build what they need to help communicate, understand and manage money, benefits and equity more effectively. Right now, tax advice around equity compensation is a significant focus for us as so many employees struggle to understand it. We also have a few other surprises up our sleeves around expansion that we’ll be able to share soon…:)

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