According to the 2013 Women, Money & Power Study from Allianz Life, more than 6 in 10 women (62%) said they had an interest in learning about financial planning, retirement planning and investing. This is nearly double the amount (35%) who indicated interest in these topics during the original study conducted in 2006.
However, the study adds that despite innovations within the financial services industry, 70% of all women said they believed financial information was hard to understand, up significantly from the 44% who felt that way during the initial study.
The 2013 study, conducted with more than 2,000 women ages 25 to 75 with a minimum household income of $30,000 a year, also found that 68% of women felt financial planning materials were dull and boring. Additionally, 54% said financial material “seems like it’s in a foreign language,” and a full 40% said that none of the information was “applicable or useful.”
Surprisingly, despite indications that women want to learn and want help translating financial material, 69% of women do not see their financial professional as a “go-to” source for information about how to save, spend and invest.
In fact, only 38% of women noted they had a financial professional. Of those who had a financial professional, more than a third (38%) said their financial professional was “not very responsive” or “doesn’t seem all that interested in my personal situation” (40%).
“It’s definitely concerning that the financial services industry doesn’t seem to have learned much in the last seven years about customizing solutions to female clients,” Allianz Life vice president of consumer insights Katie Libbe said in a statement. “Women are in more financial control than ever before, and regardless of their high level of interest in learning about financial topics, the information and planning resources made available aren’t doing enough to change negative perceptions about the industry.”
Retirement Planning: Who to Trust?
According to the results, women feel more empowered about financial planning and are more responsible for financial decisions than ever before. More than 90% of women said they felt that they need to be significantly more involved in financial planning than in the past. They also report that they are equally responsible for major investment decisions and retirement planning in their household (57%).
Although negative perceptions about the financial services industry remain strong, many women do see the value in having a financial professional to help guide them. In the study:
- 77% of women who reported they have a financial professional said they were more confident and prepared for their financial future,
- 75% of respondents recommend having a financial professional to other women,
- 75% of women feel they earn better returns on their money with a financial professional, and
- 72% of women felt more self-sufficient having a financial professional.
“It’s clear that working with a trusted financial professional who understands women’s unique perspective on financial topics is something many women are seeking,” Libbe added. “Allianz Life is committed to helping financial professionals gain a better understanding of what women want in financial planning and be more responsive in creating customizable solutions.”
Women also noted the importance of feeling engaged and having the ability to learn in a non-intimidating environment with other women. Yet, despite a desire to connect, the Internet was cited as the most popular source for financial information (54%), with financial professionals coming in at 39%.
Most Wanted: Retirement Lifestyle
The top financial topic that women said they most want to learn about—attaining a retirement lifestyle—is not likely the top focus for many financial professionals. Women are asking for clear and simple-to-understand financial information that is available on the Internet.
The vast majority of women surveyed noted they were more concerned about attaining a retirement lifestyle than gaining specific investment guidance. Eighty-five percent of participants want to learn how to achieve their desired lifestyle in retirement, while an equal number want guidance on how they could guarantee income for life. Seventy-five percent want to know how to invest and plan for retirement with a modest income, and 67% are interested in the basics of “buying smart” (where to save, managing a budget, etc.) Getting guidance about the stock market was the least interesting to women, with only 58% finding the topic appealing.
In addition to highlighting the most popular retirement topics among women, respondents also provided feedback about the perfect ways to learn about financial information. They asked for financial information to be clear, simple and easy to understand, with affordability and convenience ranking as the second and third most important characteristics.