Almost half of women have no financial plan, despite their increasing role as financial decision-makers.
A BMO Retirement Institute study found 48% of women and 38% of men have no financial plan or investments.
A retirement plan is all the more important for women since they live longer than men. And for partnered women, “The average age of widowhood is 56 in Canada,” says Marlena Paspiech, senior manager with the BMO Retirement Institute. And with 40% of marriages not lasting more than 30 years, women must be financially prepared.
Women tend to accumulate smaller retirement funds due to two main factors, adds Paspiech. Studies show women earn 83 cents for every dollar a man earns, although the gap is closing. Also, “women tend to interrupt their employment to accommodate roles as family caregivers.” This means, on average, women work fewer hours, reducing potential pension benefits.
So, advisors must find ways to make less money last longer. Women should consider higher equities allocations. Fixed income is safe, but not likely to be lucrative enough to meet their needs.
Trouble is, “Women have said their opinions on financial matters aren’t taken as seriously as those of men and the industry isn’t doing a good job of serving their investment needs,” says Paspiech. “The advisor should provide them with resources to build their knowledge. Once they’re more educated, women will be more comfortable taking on more risk.”
In couples where one spouse is not pulling in an income, Paspiech stresses the need for both parties to be involved in financial planning and attend meetings.
That’s a benefit for advisors, too. “When there is a situation like a death or a divorce, women tend to switch advisors” because there were no pre-existing relationships.
“So, it is very important for the advisor to talk to both spouses. There is a high chance for a woman, at some point, to be alone. This increases their chances of inheriting wealth, or a business.”
Married women are not the only ones who need to be more directly involved in their finances. “Single women accumulate a third less of a retirement nest egg. So, it’s even more important for a single woman to [manage] cash flow and save. Her expenses are higher so she has greater need,” says Paspiech.