Observations from CFSI EMERGE Day 1: The Health-Wealth Connection


by Tracy Faleide


I’m reporting from sunny Los Angeles, where the Center for Financial Services Innovation’s big annual conference, CFSI EMERGE, has convened more than 800 finhealth leaders and innovators across sectors to explore financial health. This is WEX Health’s first time at EMERGE, and I’m in full-on learning mode here and loving CFSI’s mission to support day-to-day financial systems that build long-term resilience and opportunity for Americans, in particular the unbanked and the underbanked. CFSI believes that finance can be a force for good in people’s lives, and that serving the needs of consumers responsibly is ultimately more profitable for the financial services industry—values that resonate with WEX Health, too.

During pre-conference hours, I attended a “Discussions on the Health-Wealth Connection” roundtable lunch hosted by Prosperity Now and the Build Healthy Places Network. I also gained insights from keynote speakers bringing unique and valuable perspective to the topic at hand, including Harry West, chief executive officer of frog, Naveen Agarwal, chief customer officer of Prudential, and Lisa Henken Ramirez, senior vice president and chief customer officer of NetSpend. Jennifer Tescher, who is CFSI’s president and CEO, capped off the opening sessions by grounding us in the urgency with which we need to think about and address the issue of financial instability in our nation. I look forward to sharing a full recap of the conference soon, but here are a few of my takeaways so far:


Wellness is wellness

Citing a mounting body of evidence showing the close link between wealth, financial health and physical health, Build Healthy Places Network and Prosperity Now stressed how poor financial health can lead to toxic stress and chronic disease. And how, conversely, poor health can lead to major financial insecurity, devastating medical expenses and lost wealth. Essentially, there is no difference between financial wellness and physical wellness. Wellness is wellness. For example, if you’re treating someone with a chronic illness but not taking into account that they can’t pay for the medicines they need, then you’re missing the point. A pediatrician with the Build Healthy Places Network told us about how, when traveling internationally and visiting various villages, he’s been inspired by the fact that, in many cases, outside of America there’s no difference between health and wellness. Instead, the focus is on doing whatever is needed to solve problems for people, from ensuring clean water and safe housing to obtaining and distributing vaccinations.


Put your lens away to truly see your consumer

My biggest takeaway from yesterday was that companies and organizations need to stop viewing our consumers through our individual lenses, whether we’re banks or credit unions, technology providers, or social service agencies. This event is reminding me that our jobs are all about helping people, which we sometimes lose sight of because we’re so busy trying to get a consumer to visit a website, or fill out these forms, or download this app. But we are all better served when we can get out from behind our own lens—and our own interests—to more fully see an individual or family and what they want and need. Design thinking is a great way to get us out of our own heads, as is a commitment to working together to move populations toward financial stability and prosperity.

For more news and insights from WEX Health-ers, follow us on Twitter at @wexhealthinc.


Tracy-Faleide WEX Health


Tracy Faleide

Marketing Lead at WEX Health

As Marketing Lead at WEX Health, Tracy provides direction on high-level messaging and thought leadership strategies. Tracy and her team are accountable for product marketing and ongoing internal, external and Partner communications. Although Tracy is new to WEX Health, having joined the team in late 2017, she is not new to healthcare or technology, having held several leadership roles in marketing, communications and partner/customer experience in healthcare operational management and business management software and technology companies over the past 30 years.