Financial services companies should do more to get baby boomer women to prepare financially to maintain their lifestyle in the future, according to speakers at a seminar organized by Prudential Financial, Newark, N.J.

Prudential organized the seminar to unveil the results of a recent survey of 1,007 U.S. women that focused on their financial knowledge, financial behaviors and confidence in attaining their financial goals.

Prudential has been conducting the survey every other year.

Although 53% of the women surveyed in 2004 said they intended to save and invest more money over the next 23 months, only 11% actually did so according to this year’s survey, Prudential executives said.

While 86% of women believe that maintaining their lifestyle in retirement is “very important,” Prudential found that 19% of the boomer category, the highest percentage of any group, thinks that “much of retirement is beyond my control.”

The top financial priority for almost half of the boomers polled still was paying off a loan or credit card debt instead of aiming for retirement.

In fact, when asked about the financial goals for this year, people in the 25 to 40 and the 41 to 60 age ranges are virtually identical, except that those in the 41- to 60-year-old range report shifting around their already purchased assets. Yet, the 60-plus category shifts dramatically toward acquiring more real estate, or retirement or financial protection products.

Prudential found that while 90% of “self-described” retired women who are living “upscale/comfy” are funded by “personal investments, savings and IRAs,” only 16% of boomers have opened an IRA or other retirement savings plan in the past year.

But speakers said other survey results suggest that lack of specific knowledge about financial products also may be contributing to women’s failure to act on good financial intentions: Almost 50% of the women surveyed said they did not understand individual stocks and bonds, long term care insurance, estate plans, trusts, wills, mutual funds or annuities very well or at all.

“Because I don’t know what to do, I don’t take action,” said Vivian Banta, vice president-Prudential Financial insurance division, of the findings. “Because I don’t take action, I don’t know what to do.”