Creating a request for proposal for an employer-sponsored emergency savings account benefit

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Melinda Mansfield
December 14, 2023

In today’s challenging financial landscape, it’s crucial for employers to work to support their employees’ financial wellness. Implementing an employer-sponsored emergency savings account (ESA) benefit can make a significant difference, providing a safety net and enhancing employee well-being. 

Crafting a Request for Proposal (RFP) is the first step towards selecting an ESA provider who aligns with your organization’s values, budget, and objectives. Follow these six steps to create a comprehensive RFP for your employer-sponsored ESA program.

6 steps to create an emergency savings account RFP

You’ve taken the first step towards establishing a value-added benefit offering for your employees — and improve how you support your employees’ financial wellness. Now it’s important to find a provider that meets your specific business needs.

Define the objectives and scope

Begin crafting your RFP by outlining your business goals behind offering an emergency savings account program. For many businesses, it involves more than just offering a benefit and extends into empowering your employees financially. Some common employer goals include increasing employee retention, improving employee engagement, and enhancing recruiting efforts.

With your business goals in mind, consider the target audience, desired features, and how you want the program to align with your company’s ethos. Including a well-defined scope in your RFP will help ensure the program resonates with both your organization’s and your employees’ needs.

Outline the technical and operational requirements

Your RFP should detail the technical specifications you're looking for. Consider including items like: 

  • Online access
  • Mobile app functionality
  • Robust reporting tools 
  • Employer matching options

Don’t overlook operational aspects like customer service, administrative processes, and how the program integrates with existing systems like payroll or employee benefits platforms. These elements will help ensure a seamless experience for your HR team and employees.

Clarify legal and compliance details

It's vital to ensure the program adheres to tax and labor laws. Some items to factor in include: 

  • Compliance with federal and state regulations - Make sure your emergency savings program complies with applicable federal and state laws, including the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).
  • Tax implications - Clearly communicate the tax treatment of contributions, earnings, and withdrawals to employees.
  • Privacy and data security - Safeguard the privacy and security of employees’ financial information, including compliance with regulations like the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA).
  • Non-discrimination rules - Like other employee benefit programs, emergency savings plans must be equally accessible to all eligible employees, regardless of their position, salary, or tenure.
  • Portability and continuity - Establish clear policies on what happens to the savings and any employer contributions upon an individual’s separation from the company.
  • SECURE 2.0 act considerations - While primarily focused on retirement savings, the SECURE 2.0 act might make it easier for employers to integrate emergency savings programs with existing retirement plans.

Request precise proposal details

Ask potential providers for comprehensive information to help with the decision-making process. Consider requesting details like: 

  • Company information - Including company profile and successes or results with other customer accounts.
  • Emergency savings account offerings - Including account types, interest rates, fees, investment options (if applicable), withdrawal policies, and employer matching capabilities.
  • Provided educational resources - What employee financial education, tools, and support services they have available.

This step isn’t just about rates and fees; it's about finding a provider that offers a holistic approach to financial wellness that aligns with your company culture.

Evaluate provider credentials

Finding a provider with a proven track record can help ensure the success of your new ESA program. To gauge this, ask for: 

  • Case studies and references to assess the provider’s reputation, in addition to customer satisfaction ratings and customer reviews. 
  • Licensing and industry certifications, credit rating, compliance with regulations, and security measures. 

Be specific and detailed in your request for these credentials.

Require pricing and cost breakdowns

It’s important to get a clear picture of all costs involved during an RFP process, including: 

  • Setup fees
  • Maintenance charges
  • Potential hidden costs

Keep in mind that the least expensive option may not be the best fit; focus on finding the best value for your investment.

Clarify the proposal submission and evaluation process

To facilitate a smooth review process, set clear guidelines for proposal submission, including the required format, deadline, and contact details. 

Assemble a proposal evaluation team before you start receiving proposals. Make sure to establish criteria for evaluating proposals to ensure a fair and comprehensive evaluation process. Having a diverse evaluation team can provide different perspectives and help enrich the decision-making process.

Set up your ESA vendor selection process for success

A well-crafted RFP is your roadmap to selecting the right provider for your employer-sponsored emergency savings account benefit. By meticulously addressing each step and providing clear requirements, you can choose a provider that meets your technical and operational needs and also shares your commitment to enhancing employee financial wellness. 

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