Women aren't so different from men when it comes to their financial goals, a new Pershing study notes: They want to live comfortably while maintaining their lifestyle, and want to be able to cover their health-care costs for both their families and themselves.
Yet women face some challenges that men do not. The study, titled "Women: Investing With A Purpose," calls out six planning differences that advisors should consider when working with female clients. (It also identified one thing the industry is getting wrong about female clients.)
Click here to see a slideshow version. -- Maddy Perkins
1. Women live longer than men.
OK, you all knew this one. But understand that this statistic has wide-ranging consequences.
On average, a 65-year-old woman is likely to live longer than a man of the same age by an average of 2.3 years, according to the study. At the most basic level, this suggests that single female clients need to put aside more money for retirement than a single man would. But advisors should go beyond the basic level ...
2. Women face higher tax rates.
Now let's talk about those consequences. Because of that longer life expectancy, the study notes, 80% of women will be single during their final years -- and among married couples, women are more likely to be the surviving spouse. This means they will have a higher tax rate at the end of their life than married would.
For many older couples, the husband managed the finances on his own -- which means a surviving female spouse may need extra help after her husband's death.
3. Women can experience higher medical costs.
Another consequence of longer life expectancy could be higher health care costs. Expenses brought on by chronic or terminal illnesses can add extra pressure on a female client's retirement savings.
And even wealthy women are less likely to have long-term care policies. Only 18% of high-income women have a long-term care policy, compared to 27% of all other investors, according to the study.
4. Women still make less.
In addition to longevity challenges, women face a second set of issues tied to income and employment. The average working woman makes 82% of the average working man's salary, the study notes. And women still earn nearly one-third less compensation than their male counterparts throughout their lifetimes. (More on that in a moment.)
But there's change on the horizon: The hourly earnings of women aged 25-34 are now 93% those of men -- and single, childless women in metropolitan areas out-earn men by 8%, the study reports. Income parity may not come soon enough for some of your current clients, however.
5. Women experience gaps in employment.
One issue affecting lower career compensation is employment gaps. Some women take off time to care for their families or aging parents; others may take time off to search for exciting employment opportunities. Often, women seek employment arrangements that allow them to take time off without penalty, the study says.
The implication for advisors: You may need to develop a plan that provides female clients with a financial cushion -- one that can give them more freedom and choice when considering work opportunities.
6. Women have lower account balances.
Partly as a result of these workplace trends, women have less in their accounts, the study finds. That's a challenge, because they will actually need more than men will, on average. Women who retired in 2012 are expected to spend 20.5 years in retirement -- 15% more time than men will (17.9), the study reports.
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