Industries Banking/Finance

Paycheck to paycheck

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Print this page By Paula C. Squires
Virginia Business Video Virginia Business Video
SunTrust's ad will air during this year's Super Bowl.

Watch the video

Virginia Business Video Virginia Business Video
SunTrust's ad will air during this year's Super Bowl.

Watch the video


Many Americans have jumped on the wellness movement to improve their physical fitness, but financial fitness is important, too. 

That’s the message behind the first-ever Super Bowl ad by SunTrust Banks Inc. that will air during the Feb. 7, Super Bowl football championship game. 

The company decided to place the ad to jumpstart a national conversation on financial fitness. It’s important as a means to relieve stress and to give people tools to move from stress to financial confidence, said John Stallings, president and CEO for the Virginia division for SunTrust Bank in Richmond.

Recent research gathered in an online survey shows that “40 percent of Americans don’t have $2,000 set aside for an emergency. It’s more than 60 percent of millennials.  There’s a trend that happens when people don’t have financial confidence, they have some degree of financial stress that carries over and keeps people from pursuing a healthier and happier life,” said Stallings.

SunTrust wants to build financial confidence in two ways: through website tools at,  and by offering business clients a program, Financial Fitness for Companies, which the bank already has done internally with more than 13,000 of its own employees.

From Dec. 29 through Dec. 31, SunTrust retained the Neilson Harrison Poll to conduct an online survey of 2,049 adults, ages 18 and older.  The survey found that:

·         Nearly three quarters of Americans feel stressed about their finances, and 80 percent admit it keeps them awake at night.

·         Forty-six percent of employed Americans said they usually run out of money between paychecks; 64 percent of employed millennials (18-34) said they run out, the highest of any age group.

·         Financially confident people are three times more likely to be satisfied with their life, across all income levels.

“The survey results hold true from what I hear and see in Virginia. …  ” said Stallings. "We think financial stress is a national problem .. . and we think it’s time to take action to help people.”

The Super Bowl ad called, “Hold Your Breath” is a reminder that worrying about money can cause people to miss life’s important moments. Produced by the New York-Based firm of Strawberry Frog, SunTrust says the ad is based on the belief that anyone can achieve financial confidence.

The company did not disclose how much it paid for the ad. It will direct viewers to, where people can pledge to take action, take a mental wealth quiz and receive actions, tools and tips tailored to their needs.

After offering a financial wellness program to its employees, 13,000 out of the bank’s staff of 24,100 participated in the first year.  According to Sun Trust, “more than 70 percent now say they feel more confident about their finances.”

The bank offered a “day of purpose” for employees -- a paid day off where they could focus on personal finances.  According to Stallings, what the bank found was that workers moved to financial confidence after receiving assistance in such areas as budgeting, appropriate debt levels, access to tools for financial planning and establishing an emergency fund.

Sun Trust, based in Atlanta and one of Central Virginia’s largest financial service companies, offered a match of $1,000 to employees who completed the program and set $1,000 of their own money aside into an emergency fund. Many of the employees took advantage of the match, said Stallings.  “The program was wildly successful and really took off and that was the proof point that we needed to offer it,” he added. .

This bank plans to offer the financial fitness program to business clients at costs, said Stallings, and will not earn a profit from it. “We as SunTrust bankers have the wherewithal to help people make financial decisions. Whether it’s a Fortune 100 CEO, a business owner, or a kid coming out of high school, we are ready to help people navigate the financial world."

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