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Retirement Planning > Retirement Investing

Helping Women Face Longevity Risk

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The well-known fact that wives tend to outlive their husbands could hit financial professionals harder than they realize.

Speakers talked about the “longevity mismatch” between spouses and other aspects of longevity today during a seminar sponsored by a unit of Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Hartford, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Age Lab.

Among the threads that baby boomers and their financial advisors are going to need to sort out is juggling care of elderly parents and children.

Many boomers are already at risk of outliving their retirement income, in part because they tend to fawn over their children, and many give paying for their children’s education a higher priority than investing for retirement, speakers said.

Female boomers are at even greater risk than other boomers because “aging is a female sport,” said Joseph Coughlin, the founding director of the Age Lab.

Financial professionals just have to look at their older clients to see that wives tend to outlive husbands.

But Maureen Mohyde, director of gerontology at Hartford Life, said the effects on financial professionals may be greater than the professionals expect.

If current mortality trends continue, 90% of U.S. wealth will be managed by women, Mohyde said.

Today, about 70% of women take their assets to new advisors within 3 years after their husbands die, Mohyde said.

Women already tend to have lower levels of retirement savings than men, and an increasing need to provide informal long term care for aging relatives could exacerbate that problem, Mohyde warned.

About 37% of family caregivers leave the workforce or cut back on work for pay earlier than they had expected, Mohyde said.

Seminar speakers also discussed a problem that could affect the way members of the World War II generation pass on assets to the boomers: Boomers are even more squeamish than their parents about talking about financial matters such as estates, wills and living wills.


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