Poll Finds Women’s Investing Anxiety Rising

March 4, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – Confidence in investment decisions and the stock market among women is much lower than among men and the gap is widening, according to a new MassMutual Retirement Services poll of retirement plan participants.

A news release said men believe the stock market will improve vs. decline in the next 12 months at a ratio twice that of women (16:1 for men vs. 8:1 for women). Overall, only 37.3% of participants are confident in making their own investment decisions (vs. 42.5% last year).

According to MassMutual, women are significantly less confident in making their own investment decisions (25.9%) compared to men (44.1%). At the same time last year, the percentages were 32.8% for women and 47.8% for men. Likewise, more men enjoy learning about investments (71.7%) than do women (54.4%), and more women (53.1%) than men (35.1%) prefer to spend as little time as possible on investment decisions.

Overall, 66.6% of respondents are concerned they won’t have enough saved for retirement vs. 64.9% last year. In this year’s survey, the percentage of women concerned increased by 4.4 percentage points to 74.7%, while the percentage of men declined by 1.3 percentage points to 61.9%. Participants of both genders are also becoming more conservative in their investing behavior. Among participants who made a change in their approach to investing in the last 12 months, 61.7% became more conservative compared to 38.3% who became more aggressive.

Among all respondents, 39.8% identified being able to retire as their greatest concern, up from 37.3% last year. Significantly, 74.3% agree they have more responsibility for achieving retirement income objectives than their employer. Managing debt is the greatest financial concern for participants under age 40, while being able to retire is by far the greatest concern for people 40 years old or above, MassMutual said.

“Being able to retire is the greatest overall concern among defined contribution plan participants by a large margin – almost two and a half times the concern about healthcare costs (15.2%), and much higher than job security (11.7%) and managing debt (14%),” said Elaine Sarsynski, executive vice president of MassMutual’s Retirement Services Division and chairman and CEO of MassMutual International LLC, in the news release.

MassMutual’s Retirement Services Division conducted an online survey between November 15, 2010, and January 15, 2011, of 1,517 participants in retirement plans on the MassMutual platform.