8 ideas to engage more women with saving
21 Aug 2019 - Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
I often get my daughter to recite to me “I am a strong independent woman”. She is, and part of that strength and independence comes from dealing with money issues (I “encouraged” her to opt into the pension scheme at her part-time job and she’s not regretting it!).
Recent CII research shows that by age 65, on average, women in a DC pension plan have saved only 1/5th of what a man has saved for retirement.
This statistic, while stark, may not be too surprising. Whilst the pay gap between men and women is being addressed slowly, years of lower salaries for women have meant that we don’t only have a gender pay gap, but also a gender savings and pensions gap to contend with.
A reasonable proportion of women now reaching 65 were still in the “stay at home mum” generation. Career breaks, most often to bring up children have, at least until recently, been taken by the female within the family unit. And a lower level of confidence in financial matters, perceived or otherwise, often means women tend to be more cautious in financial matters than men.
So what can we as an industry do to address this issue? A recent survey by likeminds showed that 39% of women believe communications about financial products don’t reflect the way they think and feel about money, and 40% of women think financial services companies should be more inclusive in the way they communicate to female customers.
But it’s not all bad news. Scottish Widows' 2018 Women and Retirement Report showed that the number of women saving adequately for retirement was at its highest level since their research began 13 years ago. The small but steady progress in the number of women saving enough for later life in recent years has showed that, at least to some extent, the gender gap in later life savings is narrowing. But an issue was still highlighted about the under-saving of young women – perhaps not surprisingly against a background of increasing house prices and repayments on student loans as well as the uncertainty created by Brexit.
Part of the issue lies in financial confidence. Many women manage the household budget. And with more women marrying later – or not at all – there is a greater need to take control of the wider financial budgeting position. But many women don’t have the confidence to talk about finances in the same way as men do. They would prefer to take to websites such as Mumsnet to ask the questions they wouldn’t ask of their employer or friends.
So what lessons can we learn in terms of the way we engage women in savings? Here are some ideas we should perhaps focus on as a starter for 10:-
- Focus on presenting pension saving within the wider context of financial wellbeing. If we can help show in a practical way how savings can be made in other areas, perhaps we can engage women more in their long-term savings plan.
- Engage women in the run up to their period of maternity leave and help them understand how they can potentially continue with contributions, perhaps funded by their partner, while they are away from the workplace.
- Create more apps that allow women to ask financial questions – this doesn’t need to be advice; for most, some form of guidance will do. And actively promote these apps to women through the key social media outlets.
- Within the workplace, use engagement strategies that reflect the diversity of people’s knowledge and experience when it comes to money. Engaging differently with women should not be seen as discriminatory – it should be viewed in a positive way.
- Encourage more women to become financial advisers. Most IFAs are male and many women would prefer to receive advice on their finances from someone of the same gender to avoid them feeling intimidated. This isn’t going to happen over night but promotion of this as a career choice for women should be a priority.
- Get out into the places where women are – whether this be ante-natal classes, Zumba classes or dare I say it, gin tastings (please drink responsibly)!
- Appeal to women’s emotions as well as their more practical side in our communications. We’re really good in the pensions industry in talking facts - but talking emotions is harder.
- Use the senior women in organisations to inspire other women in the workforce.
These are just a few of the more practical things we can do – but they are just a start.
There have been several initiatives launched recently in the pensions industry which focus on ways to better engage women in their financial decisions. I’m keen to establish a group of like-minded women in the industry to explore new ways to achieve this and I’d be delighted to hear from you if you’d be interested in sharing thoughts in this area. If you’re up for it, please email me.
Let’s get that girl power working!