BOSTON — To better assist its employees who are burdened with student loan debt, Fidelity Investments® implemented an important new benefit called the Step Ahead Student Loan assistance program. Fidelity also increased paid time off for maternity leave to 16 weeks and increased parental leave to six weeks. The student loan assistance program provides employees with more than six months of tenure $2,000 a year towards their student loans, up to $10,000. In the first few weeks of offering the new program, nearly 5,000 employees have enrolled and begun receiving student loan payments.
"Our employees are our greatest asset and we are always listening to them to help identify ways we can improve their experience at Fidelity," said Jennifer Hanson, head of associate experience and benefits at Fidelity. "Both of these ideas were identified by our employees as critical areas to improve and we've already received great feedback following these enhancements. We strive to offer great benefit programs that meet their needs; because an engaged workforce helps us continue to innovate and deliver best-in-class products and services to our customers."
About the Step Ahead Student Loan Assistance Program
America's student loan debt crisis has been growing for years. American student debt now far exceeds $1 trillion, long ago eclipsing credit-card debt as the second-biggest household debt (behind mortgages).1 Statistics show about 70 percent of today’s college graduates carry student loan debt, averaging $35,051.2 Fidelity estimates about 25 percent of its employees are encumbered by student loans. Presently, less than 3 percent of American companies are helping their employees who carry student loan debt.3
"Our employees and their managers told us that student loan debt was forcing them to put off major life decisions like buying a home and having a child. As a financial services firm, this was really concerning to us and we felt that providing a benefit like student loan repayment assistance helps us to address a very real financial concern that is impacting our employees directly," continued Hanson.
Fidelity's student loan assistance program was implemented in January. Eligible employees are entitled to up to $2,000 a year towards student loan repayment, up to $10,000. Using a third-party vendor, Tuition.io, payments are sent directly to the loan provider. The benefit is paid monthly and not tied to retention, so employees don't have to pay it back if they leave.
Paid Maternity and Parental Leave Doubled
After a review of existing policies and external research, Fidelity has also expanded its maternity and parental leave program for employees. That includes boosting maternity leave to 16 weeks and parental leave to six weeks, which allows employees to take paid time off to care for a newborn (including adopted children). That's more than double the previous policy, which was six-to-eight weeks of paid maternity leave and two weeks of parental leave.
"We recognized that parental leave is a compelling benefit to attract and retain employees, so we took the necessary steps to give parents the time off they need. We take significant pride in providing our employees with a great associate experience. Our competitive benefits range from our market-leading retirement plan, to our award-winning wellness programs, and include offering modern facilities with amenities like subsidized healthy dining and on-site health and wellness centers. Our goal is to attract and retain top talent and we believe this approach helps us do just that," Hanson continued.
About Fidelity Investments
Fidelity's goal is to make financial expertise broadly accessible and effective in helping people live the lives they want. With assets under administration of $5.0 trillion, including managed assets of $2.0 trillion as of January 31 2016, we focus on meeting the unique needs of a diverse set of customers: helping more than 25 million people invest their own life savings, nearly 20,000 businesses manage employee benefit programs, as well as providing nearly 10,000 advisory firms with investment and technology solutions to invest their own clients' money. Privately held for nearly 70 years, Fidelity employs 45,000 associates who are focused on the long-term success of our customers. For more information about Fidelity Investments, visit https://www.fidelity.com/about.