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Helping clients prepare for retirement involves careful consideration of their personal goals, age, savings, debt, health needs and more. But what about male and female opinions? Is it safe to assume that men and women — including spouses — share the same views on all retirement-related matters?

As we approach International Women’s Day, now’s a perfect time to learn more about your female clients. Among the most current resources you can explore is the newly released Sun Life Barometer, which offers specific insights about women, men and retirement planning.

Read on for highlights from this report and an interview with industry insider Lori Landry, Chief Marketing Officer, Sun Life Global Investments, who offers her perspective on the 2017/18 Sun Life Barometer findings.

Sun Life barometer highlights

The Sun Life Barometer measures the opinions of working and retired Canadians on health, finances and the connection between the two. Several questions within this study revealed that women and men do, indeed, have different opinions about retirement planning.

Expectations at age 66

Which of these describes what you think you will be doing at age 66, shortly after the traditional retirement age? Men Women
Working full-time 50% 37%
Working part-time 23% 30%
Fully retired 19% 24%

Retirement savings

How satisfied are you with how much you [are saving/saved] for retirement? Men Women
Very satisfied or somewhat satisfied 51% 42%
Somewhat dissatisfied or very dissatisfied 29% 36%

Retirement risks

Do you think there’s a serious risk you could outlive your retirement savings? Men Women
Yes 46% 50%
No 30% 22%

Advisor input

Would you find it valuable to meet with an advisor to discuss your retirement plans? Men Women
Yes 46% 50%
No 54% 50%
Do you work with an advisor to help manage your finances? Men Women
Yes 32% 37%
No 65% 60%

Financial know-how

Do you feel you have the financial knowledge to be able to make a plan for retirement? Men Women
Yes 60% 46%
No 26% 37%

Lori Landry’s perspective

Q: In your opinion, how can knowing more about the female perspective on retirement-related matters help advisors?

Lori Landry (LL): It’s like building any good relationship. The more insight you have about what makes someone tick, the more successful your interactions will be and, ultimately, the more effective your recommendations will be around their retirement needs. It’s funny how just a few simple insights could help a female client feel like her advisor really “gets her” and that she’s “made a connection.” It’s about feeling listened to and understood, before hearing about different solutions.

Q: In your view, what do the stats from the Sun Life Barometer indicate about women investors?

LL: There is just so much rich data about women in this study — where do I start? I’d summarize the results into three main themes when it comes to women and retirement:

  1. Women are not saving enough money
  2. Women don’t have enough knowledge
  3. Women would benefit from having an advisor

Women feel they’re at serious risk of outliving their money (50% female vs. 46% male). They say they don’t have the financial knowledge to make a retirement plan (37% female vs. 26% male). And 50% of women said they would benefit from meeting with an advisor (vs. 46% of males). So clearly, there are important things to discuss and big opportunities to help female clients feel more confident.

Q: Do these stats (both women’s and men’s answers) surprise you in any way? If so, how?

LL: The biggest surprise for me is that we haven’t moved the needle much (compared to results from Sun Life Financial’s 2016 Retirement Now Report) in terms of women’s continued lack of confidence about feeling retirement ready, and especially around their knowledge level on retirement. Only 46% of women say they have the financial knowledge to make a plan for their retirement vs. 60% of men. I think that’s a problem we could resolve fairly easily, simply by encouraging more in-depth conversations with female clients.

Q: Based on the findings from the Sun Life Barometer, what should advisors keep in mind during client meetings — either with women independently or as part of a couple?

LL: It’s important to acknowledge:

  • The different levels of “worry” each individual has when it comes to whether they’ll outlive their money;
  • Whether they see themselves still needing to work in retirement;
  • Their general level of knowledge around the financial concepts being discussed at meetings with their advisor.

And while one member of the couple may want the advisor to skip by certain aspects of the financial discussion or retirement concepts, the other member may stay silent but secretly wish the advisor would slow down and explain the concepts, the risks, etc.

Q: Do you have any other advice for advisors related to both men’s/women’s views?

LL: There are broad trends affecting the industry that we’re aware of:

  • Women are increasingly either the sole breadwinner in the family or making the higher income;
  • Many widows change advisors when their spouse dies;
  • The shift in wealth is increasingly moving into female hands.

What I think is worth exploring next is the influence women have on their daughters in terms of financial issues, saving, retirement and knowledge.

The more you know, the better

The more you know about female clients’ perspectives, the better you’ll be at encouraging their confidence. For additional insights on women investors: