From the July 2008 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

July 1, 2008

Women Still Lack Confidence on Retirement

Prudential Financial survey finds a persistent confidence gap

Sometimes no news is bad news, though the findings of a recent study on women and retirement suggest that there remains an educational opportunity for many advisors when it comes to raising awareness among their female clients on preparing for retirement. It seems the confidence gap of women--the chasm between knowing something and doing something--has prevented this group from a secure financial future.

"There has been no significant change in women's confidence levels in terms of achieving their financial goals," Prudential Financial reports in Financial Experience & Behaviors Among Women. The fifth biennial study found that eight in 10 women believe maintaining their lifestyle in retirement is a priority, yet few are very confident they can achieve it. The survey was administered to 1,033 female sole and joint heads of households between the ages of 25 and 68, with a 2007 household income of $50,000 or more (40% of respondents represent households with an income of $100,000 or more) by Harris Interactive. There is a 62-point gap between women's confidence level and the importance they place on this goal. Surprisingly, 36% of Millennials (aged 25 to 29) and 34% of GenXers (30 to 42) tend to worry more about a secure financial future than the older female generation even though this younger group has more time to build savings.

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The reason for worry among young women may be a lack of support. The data suggests women recognize that government assistance and/or a systematic workplace savings plan may not be enough to reach their retirement goals. In reporting their expected sources of retirement income, about two-thirds of the women indicated their own personal savings. Additionally, Millennials have doubts about whether or not Social Security will be able to sustain itself by the time they reach retirement (35%), unlike the 91% of Matures--those born before 1945--many of whom are already enjoying the benefits of a Social Security check.

Help on the Web

In response to the lack of retirement knowledge and savings on the part of women found in the survey, Prudential launched Women & Money--a free Web-based educational resource designed to help women manage the financial aspects of their lives that ultimately impact their long-term financial security. "We're looking to do two things--make sure that we provide information from an educational point of view, and do it in a way that saves women time," notes Flowers. The site (www.prudential.com/women) offers consumers access to a range of educational articles and tools--such as planning checklists and a number of calculators--to help them zero in on the topics most relevant to them. Designed with an eye toward the many roles women fill, from parent, significant other, daughter, etc., Flowers says the site offers practical tools to help women of all ages and life-stages manage the financial aspects of their lives, as well as prepare for retirement.

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