More than half of women who work hold management and professional jobs, 95% of them say they are the financial decision-makers in their households, and a significant portion of them are likely to be single during their retirement years.
Those are just several reasons financial advisors should spend time educating women about annuities when helping them plan for retirement, according to study that the Insured Retirement Institute published earlier this week.
It is no surprise that a report from the IRI would point advisors to business opportunities for selling women annuities. At least one women advisor, Eleanor Blayney, president of Directions LLC, however, sees parallels in the report with her own work that suggest the conversations are worth having.
“We’re not talking enough about the number of women who are single in the retirement years,” Blayney said in a telephone interview. For starters, women live an average of three to four years longer than men, according to the IRI’s findings. According to the report, today’s 65-year-old female has a 71% chance of living to age 80, compared with a 61% chance for males the same age. Blayney puts the longevity difference as long as five years. The reason could be divorce, or that many women marry men who are older than they are, and are widowed at some point.
“That has huge implications for women,” Blayney said. “The need for long-term care counseling is much greater among women in general and even more so among single women.”
Unlike men, who start working early and work until they retire, are steady earners. Women sometimes leave the workforce to raise children or attain more education, so they generate less money going into retirement, Cathy Weatherford, president and chief executive officer of the IRI, explained in a phone interview. It is a powerful factor that can lessen women’s lifetime earnings, even if they hold professional and management jobs, Weatherford said.
For instance, women drew significantly smaller payments from Social Security and pensions than men do, according to the study, which also cited findings from the Social Security Administration’s most recent Annual Statistical Supplement. The average monthly OASDI (Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance) payment to retired women was 87% of that paid to men. The difference was most pronounced among younger women. Those between ages 62 and 69 received between 82% and 83% of that of their male counterparts.
Financial advisors have a big job ahead of them, in light of these findings. First, they need to educate women about how they could use an annuity product to compensate for their longevity and potential singlehood in retirement, both Blayney and Weatherford said.
When having those conversations, Blayney said, do put the facts in the context of the woman’s life. Address how buying an annuity might impact how she provides for her children, parents, and her other responsibilities. Much of financial information is conveyed to men through sports metaphors, but women want the information framed around their lives.
And don’t be shy about meeting them where they are—in the corner office at the workplace, among the soccer moms, among the mother of their children’s playmates, says Weatherford. “They are busy, and their lives are full,” she said. “They are active in their communities.”
With so much on their plate, women want assurances. “Fixed annuities that are structured in a way to protect the holders from rising inflation—we need to be pushing providers for more of this kind of instrument,” Blayney said.
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