Men, women view wealth differently

By Mark Noble | January 21, 2010 | Last updated on January 21, 2010
3 min read

Women view wealth and retirement quite differently than men, a new study finds.

A survey of 1,200 Canadians, undertaken by Fleishman-Hillard on behalf of Sun Life Financial, finds women more committed to retirement, but far less willing to work past the age of 65.

Twice as many men (32%) than women surveyed say they want to work past age 65, according to the second edition of the Sun Life Canadian Unretirement Index. Among the women who expected to work past the normal retirement age, 71% said they will do so to earn enough money to pay for basic living expenses, compared to 65% of men.

“We found men and women had diverse opinions around what factors should be considered in a retirement plan, with women more likely to cite long-term care, low interest rates and death of a spouse,” says Kevin Dougherty, president, Sun Life Financial Canada. “Interestingly, we found that Canadians on the whole were significantly more confident about their retirement if they had worked with a financial advisor for a year or more than those who did not have an advisor.”

More women (61%) also believed their company pension will not be enough to live off of, compared to 56% of men.

More than two thirds of female respondents (66%) believed their current rate of return on retirement savings would not be sufficient, versus 59% of men. Concerns about mortality and health seemed to weigh heavier on the minds of women, with 72% of women worried about long-term care expenses, compared to 60% of men. In addition, 67% of women were worried about their financial plan if their spouse was to die, versus 54% of men.

Only 49% of women felt confident about their ability to fund basic expenses in retirement versus 57% of men. Statistically, women are better savers, but still lack the earning power of their male counterparts, which may account for some of this increased anxiety.

“Women have substantial reasons for worrying that they won’t have enough money to enjoy the lifestyle they want in retirement,” says Alison Konrad, professor of Organizational Behavior at the Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario. “The average Canadian woman earns about 66% of what the average Canadian male earns. So even though women tend to put a larger percentage of their income into their retirement nest eggs, men save almost $1,900 more each year.”

Women place extra value on the home

A recent TD Canada Trust survey founds that even though women continue to expand their position in the workforce, they still place a greater value on of their home than men do.

According to the third annual TD Canada Trust Women and Home Ownership Poll, which surveyed women who have purchased a home independently, 44% of women ranked financial security as the best thing about home ownership, compared to 23% of women in the 2008 poll. Second on the list of best things about owning a home was not having to pay rent or pay other people (38% versus 13% in 2008).

“It’s not surprising that the financial reasons for ownership have increased in importance for people,” says Chris Wisniewski, group product manager, real estate secured lending at TD Canada Trust. “People are looking for ways to feel financially stable again and see home ownership as a way to build equity and invest in their future.”

While financial security continues to top the list of home ownership benefits, the comforts of home are increasingly important to Canadian women. When asked to describe the best things about home ownership, 34% of respondents said it was having a place of their own, 34% said is about being able to decorate or renovate the way they want and 34% say it is about and having a backyard or garden.

Again, theses responses increased dramatically from the first survey conducted in 2008. Women had cited having a place of their own at 22%, being able to decorate or renovate the way they want at 14%, and having a backyard or garden at only 5% back in 2008.

“Even though the comforts of home have become increasingly important to women, the financial reasons for home ownership have also increased in importance,” Wisniewski says.


Mark Noble