Women are living longer, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are prepared for the risks of longevity.

During their lifetimes, women tend to make less money than men and, in turn, save less for retirement. This leaves them more vulnerable in their later years and with fewer options.

The financial crisis only served to compound women’s concerns about not having enough money to last throughout their lifetimes. Now a report released last week from LIMRA indicated that more than half of middle-income women surveyed felt unsatisfied with their current financial situation and uncertain about their future financial needs. Even more worrisome is that almost a third of the women surveyed don’t know how to achieve their financial goals.

“What’s striking is that consistently, women in the middle market expressed more concern about their financial well-being than men did,” Nilufer Ahmed, a senior research director for LIMRA Markets Research, said in a press release.  “The recession has been hard on middle-income Americans, with many indicating that they have not made any progress or fallen behind on their financial goals.  Yet, the women we surveyed seemed to be more receptive to listening to financial services representatives for the tools and advice needed to achieve their financial goals.”

Saving enough for retirement is a concern for women and men alike, but 54% of women compared with 49% of men feel like they are not saving enough. Part of the reason for women’s worries about retirement savings is that women tend to be more risk-adverse and less likely to invest in stocks and mutual funds, which cuts into their savings, according to LIMRA.

This could be an opportunity for financial advisors to speak to their female clients about appropriate investments, which could help them attain higher returns on their assets.

Earlier this month, New York Life Insurance Co. announced that more women are buying income annuities to ensure they have sufficient retirement income than men, with 64% of the company’s $1.9 billion in fixed immediate annuity sales last year to women. 

LIMRA’s Marie Rice, a corporate vice president and director of LIMRA Retirement Research, said that fixed immediate annuities offer the protection that women want.

Cindy Hounsell, the president of the Women’s Institute For a Secure Retirement, said in an interview that she thinks more women are buying fixed immediate annuities mainly because they are panicked over how their investments declined in 2008. “There is a panic over not having guaranteed income,” she said. “In many ways the fact that women are buying more fixed immediate annuities is a really good sign that they are understanding their retirement situation. Once people get an education then buying annuities is really a no-brainer. We buy insurance for our cars. We need to buy insurance for ourselves.”

Even something as simple as a budget could help. Only four in 10 women and men say they develop a budget and follow through with it, LIMRA found. And when asked about financial advisors less than 40% say they want help from a financial advisor to develop a lifetime or retirement income plan because they are either not sure of where to get help or they think the costs are too steep. 

LIMRA experts suggest that companies should provide more information about appropriate investments, which could help them attain higher returns on their assets.

Only four in 10 women (and men) say they develop a budget and save accordingly and less than 40% say they want help from a financial advisor to develop a lifetime or retirement income plan.  Most are unsure of where to get help or the costs involved. 

“It’s important that companies provide budgeting and debt reduction information through their Web sites, brochures and their financial professionals,” said Ahmed. “Companies and financial professionals should also encourage the use of financial planning and be up front about any costs involved.

LIMRA’s research found that women were more likely than men to feel they do not have adequate life insurance coverage to meet their family’s needs. Married women, in particular, tend to believe that their households need more life insurance coverage compared to married men, according to the firm. 

In addition, LIMRA’s research found that being able to afford long-term care is also a higher priority for women.

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