Women are more concerned than men about how much they are saving for retirement and are more likely than men to put money away in their workplace retirement accounts yet they also view themselves as the least prepared for retirement.
Both men and women are concerned about being able to pay bills, pay down debt and about their investments losing money, but women "also have a higher level of concern than men about health, the well-being of their immediate family, and the economy," according to the Insured Retirement Institute’s report Women’s perspectives on saving, investing and retirement planning. "Women also are more concerned than men about accumulating enough money for retirement."
Eight in 10 women have concerns about saving enough for retirement, with 54% saying they are "very concerned."
"The anxiety expressed by women is understandable when you consider the challenges they face in achieving a financially secure retirement," says IRI president and CEO Cathy Weatherford. "Income disparities and time out of the workforce are among factors that will reduce retirement savings as well as Social Security and employer-provided retirement benefits. At the same time, longer lifespans will necessitate more savings to produce additional years of retirement income.”
Seventy-eight percent of women say they are contributing to their workplace retirement savings plan, compared to 75% of men.
"The fact that many are contributing, but also are very concerned about not being able to retire when and how they want to, implies that they may not be saving enough to feel secure about reaching their retirement goals," the report stated.
Even though more women than men are contributing to a workplace plan, nearly six in 10 women and men report being behind schedule in saving for a financially secure retirement. Neither gender believes they are saving enough for retirement, "indicating that inadequate savings rates may be more a function of a perceived lack of ability to save more than a lack of awareness regarding the need to save," the IRI said.
Only one in five women considers themselves do-it-yourself investors, compared to 40% of men. The IRI survey found that men’s perceptions about their spouses or partners when it comes to investing are usually not correct, with three out of 10 men believing their partners want them to handle everything.
When it comes to seeking financial advice, women are also more likely than men to ask friends or family for help. Fifty-seven percent of women say they will consult friends and family on financial issues, compared to 43% of men; and 40% will consult work colleagues, compared to 31% of men.
Older women are much more likely than younger women to be knowledgeable about financial issues, have a relationship with a financial adviser or own a variety of financial products, the IRI found. Younger women, on the other hand, are more concerned about personal financial issues than their older counterparts and are much more likely to talk to friends and co-workers about financial issues.
Thirty-five percent of the women surveyed said they are on track or ahead of schedule when it comes to how much they have saved for retirement, compared to 37% of men. Only 1% of women and 3% of men believe they are far ahead of schedule in this regard.
Of those who say they have a hard time saving for their future, 36% of women and 31% of men said their biggest problem is finding things to cut back on. Twenty-six percent of men and 18% of women said that they just don’t have the discipline to save money.
Even though most survey respondents were concerned about saving enough for retirement, one-third of women and men said they plan to stop working full-time before they reach age 65 and one in five plan to stop working full-time at age 65. Only about one-quarter of women and 30% of men said they will continue working past age 65.
Women who want to work with a financial adviser want someone who can explain financial concepts clearly, without talking down to them. They also want someone who listens well, follows up and is very experienced.
The IRI survey was conducted online by market research firm Greenwald & Associates from July 28 to July 30, 2015. A total of 1,002 respondents answered the survey, 701 women and 301 men.
Paula Aven Gladych is a freelance writer based in Denver.
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