women and retirement

Some of you guys know I work on retirement issues. Last week my boss sent around this SmartMoney article that I really want everyone to read. I think the article does a great job at outlining the differences in how men and women think regarding retirement issues generally, and saving/spending money specifically.

Here is the lead in to the article:

"After a long career managing large accounts for an insurance company, Lynn Brooks is hardly a financial novice. But when she sought help from a financial adviser at a brokerage after her husband died, they might as well have been speaking different languages. Brooks, who's now 60, knew she'd reached the age when her savings should be managed conservatively. Her adviser, however, had something more testosterone-fueled in mind, urging her to go for growth and buy riskier assets like small-cap stocks. And when she phoned him, she says, he was often in a hurry: "It was as if he was saying, 'Leave me alone. I'll take care of this.'" Brooks, who declines to name her adviser, says she eventually took her business elsewhere -- but only after her nest egg had shrunk 30 percent over the course of a decade before the crash.

This is how the battle of the sexes plays out in the complex world of retirement planning -- and all too often, women come out on the losing end. To a surprising degree, many women are unprepared for retirement: A recent survey by financial-services company MassMutual found that women's retirement accounts were, on average, just two-thirds the size of men's. The disparity is made worse by simple demographics: Because they live longer, women need more money than men for a comfortable retirement -- up to 40 percent more for health care expenses alone, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. And the gap isn't expected to close for decades. "Millions of women are going to lose their standard of living unless they take hold of the situation," says Cindy Hounsell, president of the Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement.

But as women step up to do just that, many find that the financial-services industry is an obstacle, not an ally. Indeed, in a recent Boston Consulting Group survey of women investors, respondents said they routinely feel underserved by the financial-services industry, with more than 70 percent expressing dissatisfaction with the service they are getting. Among the complaints: disrespectful advisers, narrower investment choices based on the assumption that women can't handle risks and patronizing pitches like one from a bank's Web site that urged women to give their finances a "makeover." The disenchantment is especially acute among women who find themselves managing money on their own after their marriages end. Seven out of 10 widows and divorced women leave the advisers that their spouses used, according to a study by financial-services giant Allianz."

1 comment:

SAHM said...

I thought this was very interesting and discouraging for women. Hopefully if they become more educated about the inherent challenges they face -even with professional help- it will help things improve. I share the info with my mother-in-law.