New analysis from Principal® reveals employer support for financial inclusion differs by job sector

Global Financial Inclusion Index shows opportunity for greater employer support across industries, as well as among smaller businesses

The U.S. is the second most financially inclusive market, according to the 2022 Global Financial Inclusion Index (Index) – driven largely by the financial system and employers’ support of individuals. However, a new U.S.-focused analysis of the Index, sponsored by Principal Financial Group® and conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), reveals an opportunity for employers to provide greater financial inclusion and support for their employees.

The Index ranks 42 global markets on three pillars of financial inclusion – government, financial system, and employer support – using data across public and survey-based sources. The analysis ranked the U.S. first out of the 42 markets in the financial system pillar and second within the employer support pillar, driven largely by its enablement of small and medium enterprise (SME) growth and success.

“U.S. employers are critical in helping their employees access the resources necessary to make well-informed financial decisions,” said Chris Littlefield, president of Retirement and Income Solutions at Principal®. “We must recognize and appreciate the role employers play in fostering financial inclusion within our communities and, as an industry, continue to do everything we can to help more businesses support the financial needs of their employees, now and into the future.”

Opportunity for more consistent employer support across industries

When analyzing U.S. employer data by industry, opportunities were identified to enable more access to financial resources such as guidance, insurance benefits, retirement contributions, and pay initiatives (i.e. method of payment, access to interest-free loans on salary, etc.).

Across six broad industry classifications within the U.S., professional sectors with typically higher wages (i.e. finance, insurance, real estate, and information management) were found to provide employees with more consistent support and tools to enable financial inclusion. This can generally be compared to industries such as retail and hospitality that often employ more informal workers and tend to have lower wages.

“The importance of this analysis is the insight it offers employers to know where they stand in comparison to their industry and to consider how they can best support their employees with access to savings, financial education, and financial well-being programs,” Littlefield said. “We’re focused on helping employers become more intentional with solutions to meet the needs of their employees, including underserved individuals and part-time workers, while also advocating for the use of auto features in plans to increase participation and contribution rates.”

Broad U.S. Industry Classification

Employer support score1

Provision of guidance and support2

Employee pension/retirement contributions3

Employee insurance schemes4

Employer pay initiatives5

Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate Services






Information Management Services












Production – Inclusive of Agriculture, Manufacturing, Mining & Forestry, and Utilities






Health and Education Services






Other Services – Inclusive of Leisure & Hospitality, Management, Personal Services, Professional/Scientific/Technical Services, Retail Trade, Transportation, and Wholesale Trade






Table 1: Employer support scores in the U.S. by sector from the 2022 Global Financial Inclusion Index

U.S. employers’ support of financial inclusion is often associated with size

The Index uncovers a clear association between business size and the financial support employers provide to their employees. Specifically, large businesses score considerably higher than small businesses on the level of support they offer to the workforce via financial guidance, insurance, pension contributions, and pay initiatives, for example.

There are various reasons why large businesses can provide greater support than small businesses, who may lack dedicated resources and tend to overestimate the cost of benefits6. Small businesses could benefit from additional support in offering these solutions to their employees, whether from the government or through the financial services system at large.

“There’s a need to better equip small businesses with the right information and tools to enable greater financial security for their employees,” said Amy Friedrich, president of U.S. Insurance Solutions at Principal. “These businesses fight hard for top talent, and to retain that talent, have realized the importance of providing holistic benefits offerings. With greater education around benefits costs and the variety of offerings that exist, many are realizing they don’t always have to cut benefits to reduce budgets7.”

Employer Size

Employer support score

Provision of guidance and support

Employee pension/retirement contributions

Employee insurance schemes

Employer pay initiatives

More than 1000 employees






501–1000 employees






101–500 employees






11–100 employees






2–10 employees







Table 2: Employer support scores in the U.S. by business size from the 2022 Global Financial Inclusion Index

U.S. employers are critical drivers of financial inclusion

Despite inconsistencies, when compared to other markets in the Index, the U.S. generally earns high marks across the four underlying indicators measured within the employer pillar – providing employees guidance and support around retirement contributions (first overall), pay (fourth overall), insurance protection (fifth overall), and financial issues (sixth overall). These support pillars help increase employee access to the solutions they need to enable long-term financial security.

“As an organization with thousands of small to midsized businesses, we're focused on how we can further support employers with relevant financial education as well as meaningful tools and solutions to make a difference in the financial lives and futures of employees,” said Friedrich. “Achieving financial inclusion will require the right balance between employer, financial, and government systems’ support both in the U.S. and around the globe.”

See the U.S. market results from the Global Financial Inclusion Index here.
To read the full report, please click here.
Learn more about the Global Financial Inclusion Index methodology here.

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Yvonne Gonzalez, 515-878-0811

1 Relates to the level of support employers provide their employees.
2 Extent to which businesses/organizations support their employees in common financial practices.
3 Existences and scope of pension contributions.
4 Existence and scope of insurance provided by businesses/organizations.
5 Existence and scope of pay initiatives provided by businesses/organizations to support employees with their finances.
6 According to a Principal CC&G SMB Quantitative Internal Survey
7 According to the Principal Financial Well-Being Index Wave 2 (July 2022)

About Principal Financial Group®

Principal Financial Group® (Nasdaq: PFG) is a global financial company with 19,000 employees1 passionate about improving the wealth and well-being of people and businesses. In business for more than 140 years, we’re helping more than 55 million customers1 plan, protect, invest, and retire, while working to support the communities where we do business, and build a diverse, inclusive workforce. Principal® is proud to be recognized as one of America’s 100 Most Sustainable Companies2, a member of the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index, and a Top 10 “Best Places to Work in Money Management3.” Learn more about Principal and our commitment to building a better future at

1 As of September 30, 2022
2 Barron’s, 2022
3 Pensions & Investments, 2021

About Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr)

The Centre for Economics and Business Research is an independent consultancy with a reputation for sound business advice based on thorough and insightful research. Since 1992, Cebr has been at the forefront of business and public interest research, providing analysis, forecasts and strategic advice to major UK and multinational companies, financial institutions, government departments and agencies and trade bodies. For further information about Cebr please visit

© 2022 Principal Financial Services, Inc. Principal®, Principal Financial Group®, and Principal and the logomark design are registered trademarks of Principal Financial Services, Inc., a Principal Financial Group company, in the United States and are trademarks and services marks of Principal Financial Services, Inc., in various countries around the world.

The Global Financial Inclusion Index is a proprietary model output based upon certain assumptions that may change, are not guaranteed, and should not be relied upon as a significant basis for an investment decision.

Insurance products issued by Principal National Life Insurance Co (except in NY) and Principal Life Insurance Company®. Plan administrative services offered by Principal Life. Principal Funds, Inc. is distributed by Principal Funds Distributor, Inc. Securities offered through Principal Securities, Inc., member SIPC and/or independent broker/dealers. Referenced companies are members of the Principal Financial Group®, Des Moines, IA 50392.