Women's retirement plans ending up on the back burner

A historical lack of confidence and prioritizing other needs have held women back from preparing for the future

Women's retirement plans ending up on the back burner

Retirement planning should be a concern for adults of any gender. But just as women have generally fallen behind in pay and career advancement, they are also getting sidelined from preparing for their sunset years.

In a recent survey titled Female Financial Empowerment, Edward Jones found that seven out of 10 women say they feel confident in their financial knowledge, but 66% have never consulted a financial advisor. And with only 25% indicating saving for retirement as their most important goal in the next three to five years, it seems women are prioritizing other concerns and putting their retirement plans on the back burner.

“Women put off investing for the future because they are waiting for the perfect time to begin,” said Nela Richardson, Edward Jones investment strategist. “In reality, there will always be competing priorities in life, and the best time to start is sooner rather than later.”

The poll revealed that a lack of financial confidence has historically deterred women from financial planning. Among the respondents, 38% said such feelings have had a negative impact on a major life choice such as starting a family, buying a home, or pursuing an education; the percentages were higher among millennial women (55%) and those with children in the household (47%).

Four out of 10 respondents said they have not taken or do not plan to take action to become more financially empowered. When asked what would most motivate them to be more engaged in their finances, 50% of women cited access to additional income. Other motivators were an unexpected financial emergency (20%), a major life event (20%), and an economic event such as a recession (12%).

The respondents also displayed some optimism that they can become more financially savvy with time and the right resources. Among the women who said they weren’t confident in their degree of financial knowledge yet, 40% said they believe they can get better in one to three years. The majority of respondents said they have also taken steps or plan to take steps toward increased financial empowerment, including self-education through financial tools and resources (37%), meeting with a financial advisor (22%), and taking financial education courses (10%).

Focusing on the type of information that makes them feel more empowered, 32% of the respondents said they preferred to learn how to increase income to reach financial goals. Other answers included how to budget for unexpected emergencies (18%) and how to save for retirement (16%).

“By accurately defining what financial empowerment means to them, women can better identify their financial goals and the ways to achieve each of them," said Kate Warne, principal and investment strategist at Edward Jones. “Some women may find it empowering to work with a financial advisor who takes the time to get to know them and understand their short- and long-term needs as well as advocate for what's most important to them.”


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