MassMutual Survey Highlights Need for Retirement Education for Women

Level of confidence for women far below that of men

A survey released Thursday by MassMutual provides more evidence that many women need guidance when it comes to investing. While the survey found low levels of confidence in investing and more conservative investing styles in general, women were more likely to indicate low confidence.

Overall, more than 37% of investors say they are confident making their own investment decisions, though that's down from 42.5% in 2010. However, just 26% of women say they are confident making investment decisions, compared with 44% of men. While there's clearly a need for education, men are more likely to enjoy learning about investments (72%) than women are (54%).

Elaine Sarsynski, executive vice president of MassMutual's Retirement Services Division and chairman and CEO of MassMutual International LLC, noted in a statement that 57.1% of participants are "likely to seek help from a financial planning advisor in the next 12 months, with many preferring the assistance of the retirement plan advisor representing the plan."

The level of anxiety over having enough to retire is increasing overall, climbing from 64% last year to 66%. Women's anxiety is especially high, rising over 4 percentage points to 74.7%. Men, on the other hand, are actually less anxious. Less than 62% of men said they are worried about having enough to retire, down 1.3 percentage points.

"Being able to retire is the greatest overall concern among defined contribution plan participants by a large margin – almost two and a half times the concern about health care costs (15.2%), and much higher than job security (11.7%) and managing debt (14%)," Sarsynski said.

Over 39% of respondents said being able to retire was their greatest concern, up from 37% in 2010. While managing debt ranked fairly low among respondents overall, it was the top concern for those who are 40 or younger. Almost three-quarters of participants said they have more responsibility for achieving retirement goals than their employer.

"The good news is that more than half of all men and women in retirement plans administered by MassMutual plan to revisit or update their plan asset allocation in the next 12 months," E. Heather Smiley, chief marketing officer for MassMutual's Retirement Services Division, said in a statement.

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