Women More Nervous than Men about Retirement

February 2, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – Some 54% of women said they are confident they will have enough saved to “live the life they want” in retirement, compared to 62% of men, according to a new Wells Fargo survey.

A Wells Fargo news release about its latest retirement survey said women respondents indicate they are less likely to have a pension (40% vs. 48% of men) or a 401(k) available to them through their employer among those employed (71% vs. 76% of men). Women are also less likely to believe that Social Security will be available to them (38% vs. 42% of men) when they retire.

“Women hold more than half of high-paying management and professional positions in the U.S. and three women are in college now for every two men. But when it comes to retirement, they lag in their confidence about how to prepare for this phase in life, and they are less likely to see themselves in the driver’s seat,” explained Karen Wimbish, head of Retail Retirement for Wells Fargo, in the news release. “We’d like to see women make the same kind of progress in planning and saving for retirement that they’ve made in so many other spheres of life. It’s encouraging that retirement is the No. 1 financial topic women want to learn about, based on additional research we’ve conducted.”

According to the news release, the survey found:

  • 72% of women ranked an in-person financial adviser as important, compared to 63% of men, and 52% cited a human resources professional at their workplace as an important source of advice, compared to 42% of men.
  • Although both men and women are underfunded for retirement, women have saved less than men – a median of $20,000, compared to $25,000 for men. Women also set their sights lower than men: Whether married or single, when asked how much they thought they would need to support them during retirement, women said they are aiming for a median of $200,000, while men predict they will need retirement savings of $400,000.
  • Almost 30% of women between the ages of 40 and 69 are “not sure or can’t estimate” how much they will need to withdraw from their retirement savings annually while in retirement, and about 32% of women in their 40s and 50s estimate they will withdraw 11% to 30% or greater each year.
  • Just 27% of women have confidence in the stock market as a place for investment gains for their savings, compared to 40% of men. If given $5,000 with the instruction that it be “put away for your retirement,” 40% of all women say they would purchase bank CDs instead of putting the money in the market, compared to 30% percent of men.

On behalf of Wells Fargo, Harris Interactive Inc. conducted 1,756 telephone interviews of middle-income U.S. residents in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s. The interviews were conducted between September 9 and October 7, 2010.