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How Millennial Women, Men View Retirement Differently: Schwab

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Millennial women and men approach retirement planning and saving with very different concerns, according to a survey released Tuesday by Schwab Retirement Plan Services.

Far more millennial women than men reported uncertainty and stress related to saving for a comfortable retirement.

Asked whether having robust health or enough money for a good retirement was of more concern, 70% of women and 46% of men said having enough money concerned them more, while 54% of male respondents and just 30% of female ones said good health was the greater concern.

They expressed these concerns even though 86% of millennial men and 84% of millennial women reported being in good personal health, and 77% of men and 79% of women said they were in good financial health.

The female respondents’ monetary concerns were borne out in their anticipated age of retirement, the results showed. Thirty-one percent of millennial women expected to still be working at age 70, compared with just 22% of millennial men who thought they would be working at that age.

Schwab said this suggested that the women thought they would need more years of income to ensure a comfortable retirement.

“A variety of social and economic factors impact the way men and women view money, and our survey showed that this is already affecting the youngest generation of workers,” Catherine Golladay, senior vice president of participant services and administration at Schwab Retirement Plan Services, said in a statement.

“It is important for women and men alike to have access to and take advantage of critical resources, such as professional 401(k) advice and financial wellness programs, to help close the gap in retirement savings confidence.”

Koski Research conducted an online survey in early June of 288 U.S. 401(k) participants in the 25-to-35 age group who worked at companies with at least 25 employees. Survey respondents were not asked whether they had 401(k) accounts with Schwab Retirement Plan Services.

Confidence Gap

The survey identified a large disparity in confidence between millennial men and women regarding their own retirement preparedness. Fifty-five percent of men believed they were saving enough to retire when they wanted to, compared with 42% of women.

Schwab said uncertainty associated with 401(k) investing could in part explain this divide. Sixty-one percent of women in the survey and 44% of men reported that they did not know what their best 401(k) investment options were.

And 75% of women and 59% of men wished they had an easier way to know how to choose their 401(k) investments.

Saving for retirement is causing this generation a lot of anxiety as well, according to the survey results.

Consider that only 36% of millennial women felt they were totally on top of their 401(k) investments, and 42% said they felt considerable stress about choosing the right retirement plan investments.

For their part, 55% men surveyed felt totally on top of their 401(k) investments, while 35% reported 401(k) investing-related stress.

Professional Advice Helps

Eighty-nine percent of both women and men in the survey said they relied on themselves for the money they would need in retirement, and about three-quarters of each group said a 401(k) was their largest or only source of retirement savings.

Because this vehicle was critical to their financial future, 79% of millennial women and 67% of their male counterparts said they wanted help from a professional in managing their 401(k) investments.

More women than men said they would also like help with specific aspects of retirement planning, such as managing current expenses to save more money for retirement and calculating how much money they would need to save.

The survey results showed that professional 401(k) advice could boost millennials’ retirement saving confidence, especially that of young women.

Only 26% of female respondents said they were very or extremely confident in their 401(k) investment decisions when working on their own, compared with 57% of males who felt this way.

However, with professional advice, the gap would close, as 76% of men and 75% of women said they would feel very or extremely confident with the aid of investment advice.

The survey also showed that the vast majority of millennials would welcome employer-provided education, tools and resources to help with their overall financial health.

“Our experience has shown that taking advantage of professional advice can help 401(k) participants save more, be more diversified and stay the course during times of market volatility,” Golladay said.

“Millennials have the benefit of time on their side, so the earlier they consult with a professional and formulate a savings plan, the better they can prepare for retirement.”