Investing in our colleagues’ future

By Barbara Kontje, America Express

At American Express, as with most companies in America, millennials are our fastest growing population. When the Millennial Network was formed, their first request was to help them understand their finances. So we began by sharing ways that they could take control of their finances utilizing tools and resources being provided through the company’s benefits programs.

So what’s a millennial to do? Learn about your benefits and use them to your advantage! Here are some things to think about:

  • Make a spending and savings plan (aka a budget!); it doesn’t have to be complicated and there are lots of apps to help you do it. Be sure to consider how the app is using your information, and protect your privacy.
  • See if your company offers discounts on insurances, like auto, homeowner’s or renter’s insurance (think about your most valuable assets – phone, laptops, tablets and more), phone plans and everyday activities (movie tickets, dinners, concerts, etc.).
  • Look into student loan debt and refinancing options.
  • Save a little today to create an emergency fund, buy a home or engagement ring, go on vacation, celebrate a wedding, or invest in your family.
  • Check your credit score. If you want to make a major purchase later, like a house, car or condo, you may need a loan. Managing your score today will help you get a better rate in the future.
  • Talk to a financial coach! There are lots of great coaches that can help you take charge of your finances.
  • Save for retirement. Especially if your company has a plan, consider enrolling today. Start small, increase annually, give your money time to grow!
  • Name beneficiaries for your retirement accounts, life insurance, bank accounts and more.

At American Express, our goal is to build a “Culture of Health” through our leadership, policies, and work environment. We take a holistic approach to supporting colleagues and their families on their journey toward better health. That means providing resources that support their physical, financial and emotional wellbeing. Smart Saving, our financial well-being program provides resources and tools like financial coaching – at no cost to our colleagues – to help colleagues make better informed decisions about their money and create plans to save today and plan for the future.

In that spirit, following a great 2017 year for the company and some tax benefits, senior leadership wanted to provide a long-lasting contribution to our colleagues’ financial wellbeing. With that in mind, rather than a cash payment, the decision was made to provide a special profit sharing contribution of 2.5 perrcent of eligible pay to eligible participants in the company’s 401(k) plan, in addition to a regular profit sharing contribution of 3 percent of eligible pay into eligible participants’ 401(k) accounts. Participants don’t even have to contribute to the plan to get both profit sharing contributions. And for those that do contribute to the plan, the company will match up to 6 percent of eligible pay, dollar for dollar. Doing the math, that’s an additional 11.5 percent for 2017 for those contributing 6% of their eligible pay to the 401(k) plan. In 10, 20, 30 or 40 years from now, the compounding creates an even bigger value to colleagues’ future financial wellbeing.

Now, I’ve thrown a lot of information at you. And Millennials, by nature, are a collaborative group and want to share what they know and what they use, so it’s no surprise they banded together with other network groups at American Express, like the Veterans Network and the Black Employee Network to talk money and how to manage it. Of course, this was followed by a happy hour for more social networking.

I’ll close with this. Use your networks to exchange information, but always consider the source. Make sure it is someone who knows what they’re talking about and that you trust, and keep in mind the rules for using and sharing investment information.

Save on, America! Little savings today add up and compound over time.


Let America Saves help you save money so you can feel confident about your finances. It all starts when you make a commitment to yourself to save. Take the first step today and take the America Saves pledge to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth over time. And it doesn't stop there. America Saves will keep you motivated with information, advice, tips, and reminders to help you reach your goal. Think of us as your own personal support system.

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