COM­CAST COULDN’T FIND A FI­NAN­CIAL PLAT­FORM IT LIKED — SO IT BUILT ITS OWN

Employee Benefit News - - Re: Invent | Retirement - By Kathryn Mayer

The cable gi­ant launched Bright­side, which is now avail­able to other em­ploy­ers.

Add Com­cast to the grow­ing list of em­ploy­ers

that are cut­ting out the mid­dle­man when it comes to help­ing em­ploy­ees. The cable gi­ant isn’t start­ing its own in­de­pen­dent health­care com­pany for its U.S. em­ploy­ees, a la Ama­zon, Berk­shire Hath­away and JPMor­gan Chase; rather Com­cast is tak­ing a di­rect route to eas­ing its work­ers’ fi­nan­cial stress with a new plat­form.

“[Fi­nan­cial stress] was a re­ally chal­leng­ing is­sue,” says Shawn Leav­itt, se­nior vice pres­i­dent of to­tal re­wards at Com­cast. “How do we make em­ploy­ees’ money go fur­ther, and how do we make them less stressed, not just dur­ing the work­week but at home on the week­ends?”

The com­pany looked for a fi­nan­cial well­ness plat­form that would help its work­ers man­age ex­penses, save money and pay off loans, Leav­itt says, but it came up short on find­ing mean­ing­ful so­lu­tions. That’s when it turned to its ven­ture cap­i­tal arm, Com­cast Ven­tures, to look into cre­at­ing its own plat­form.

The re­sult was Bright­side, which of­fi­cially launched in May at the HLTH con­fer­ence in Las Ve­gas. The new plat­form has se­cured $4 mil­lion in seed fund­ing from Com­cast Ven­tures and Trinity Ven­tures, the com­pany an­nounced, and it is now look­ing to win over more em­ploy­ers look­ing to ease fi­nan­cial stress through a com­bi­na­tion of hu­man and tech­no­log­i­cal help.

It’s the first fi­nan­cial well­ness so­lu­tion aimed specif­i­cally at em­ploy­ers, the com­pany said in an in­ter­view.

“The point so­lu­tions that are pop­ping up for [fi­nan­cial well­ness] … if em­ploy­ers wanted to em­brace this, they would end up with 20 ven­dors and they wouldn’t be able to man­age them,” said Chris­tine Tozzi, chief strat­egy of­fi­cer and co-founder of Bright­side. “But with Bright­side, we man­age all these point so­lu­tions that are needed, and we cus­tom­ize them for the em­ploy­ees. This is a new ben­e­fit that we ex­pect em­ploy­ers to adopt so that they can help em­ploy­ees more holis­ti­cally than they’ve been able to in the past.”

Bright­side aims to of­fer sup­port for each em­ployee’s unique fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion with a mo­bile app and fi­nan­cial as­sis­tants, both backed by a pro­pri­etary fi­nan­cial method­ol­ogy, along with mod­ern be­hav­ioral science and ac­cess to fi­nan­cial prod­ucts cu­rated per­son­ally to save them money.

In­tro­duced to some of Com­cast’s 160,000 em­ploy­ees a month ago, the plat­form still is in the process of be­ing rolled out to other em­ploy­ees across the na­tion. But early in­di­ca­tions are strong, Com­cast says. Though the com­pany de­clined to say how many em­ploy­ees have signed up, en­gage­ment is two times what Com­cast’s ben­e­fits team ex­pected.

“We’ve saved peo­ple thou­sands of dol­lars on credit card in­ter­est with re­fi­nanc­ing; we’ve helped peo­ple think about stu­dent loans; and helped them build an emer­gency sav­ings ac­count such that if their tail­light goes out, they don’t need a loan for that,” said Cal­lum King, co-founder of Bright­side, not­ing that the prod­uct is free for Com­cast em­ploy­ees. “Hav­ing a cham­pion by your side for that can mas­sively re­duce fi­nan­cial stress, which has a ma­jor ef­fect on em­ploy­ees and their fam­i­lies. That stress is just a mas­sive pro­duc­tiv­ity killer.”

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