The struggle is real for many women in retirement.
A panel at the Morningstar Investment Conference in Chicago with Laura Lutton of Morningstar, Cindy Hounsell of the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement and retirement columnist Mark Miller outlined women’s financial challenges in retirement.
“A lot of women end their life single because they outlive their spouse,” Lutton said. “They often don’t have the same financial resources as men. They earn less over their careers: 79 cents on the dollar. And they often take breaks from their working lives to advance their education or take care of family members.”
This longer life and lower savings put many women in a position where their nest egg doesn’t last as long as they do, Lutton added.
Study after study shows the challenges women face in retirement.
A recent study by BNY Mellon showed that the average woman’s portfolio needs to earn at least 50 basis points more per year than a man’s to get her wealth to last as long as she does.
Another study by the National Women’s Law Center finds that a woman who works for 40 years earns nearly $430,000 in lifetime income than a man. The same study finds that an average woman would need to work 11 years longer than the typical man to make up the income difference.
According to Miller, the gender income gap is fundamental to the question of how to solve women’s retirement crisis.
“The gender income gap feeds very directly into the retirement security gap because it translates into lower Social Security benefit, lower pension benefit in the case of those that do have a defined benefit plan, and of course lower savings.”
Hounsell and Miller gave some tips and strategies to the audience of financial advisors on how they can help women have a more successful retirement.
1. Education, education education.
Education is key, Hounsell said.
Through her work at the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER), Hounsell has found that nobody knows the basics about investing and finances.
“It doesn’t matter the income level. We’ve done studies with nurses, teachers, high-level executives and it’s kind of all the same nervousness,” she said. “You’re thrown all these concepts. You go in and someone starts talking about ETFs and you don’t even know what a mutual fund is. Even though people can learn all of this, they never quite get the beginning of what it all means.”