A new study shows women are better at saving for retirement than men.
That’s right. A new study of Fidelity Investments client data found that women earned 0.4 percent higher returns and save a higher percentage of their paychecks than men do, at that is true at every salary level. According to the data, women save 9 percent of their paychecks a year, on average, compared to the 8.6 percent saved by men.
Why is this?
Women are simply more aware of, and concerned about, retirement than men. The numbers really speak for themselves here. In numerous studies, women indicate that they are less certain about their retirement, across a number of issues. In one recent survey, only 7% of women said they were “very confident” about being able to retire with a comfortable lifestyle, and 43% of women said they expect to work past age 70 or to never retire.
This drives a few key actions. First, women are much more purpose-driven than men when it comes to retirement savings. Women plan ahead, creating goals for ourselves and our families. We tend to buy and hold stocks, versus taking quick action during market fluctuations. The study found men are 35% more likely to make stock trades than women. We also take on less risk. Fidelity found that women tend to have a more age-based allocation of investments than men. On top of that, fewer women have their savings fully invested stocks than men, and women are more likely to invest in target date funds, ensuring they are well diversified.
Does this mean that women are coming out on top when it comes to retirement?
It depends on a few factors. First, the pay gap hurts women. So although women sign up 401(k) plans and save a larger portion of their pay, we still have smaller retirement savings because we are paid less than men. On top of that, the Fidelity study also found that women are much more conservative when savings. Across the board, we can be too conservative, not embracing enough risk early in our careers, or taking action when necessary. For example, men tend to be more likely to embrace more risk early in life, buying more stocks rather than bonds.
With equal pay and a less conservative strategy, what would these findings mean for women?
The differences between saving 9% versus 8.6% of your salary, or getting a return of 6.4% versus 6% might not seem like much but over time they add up. The Fidelity survey found that if a woman and man both earned $75,000 a year, and both started to invest at age 30, the slight differences in contribution rate and annual return would mean the woman would have a portfolio worth nearly $200,000 more at age 67 than the man.
Are there any other finding that stood out in Fidelity’s report?
Woman want education. Over 90 percent of women said they want to learn more about financial planning. That is huge, and is driven in large part by the fact that most women pointed to their parents as their top source of financial advice, even while just 20 percent said they felt well prepared by their parents.
Today, 88 percent of women would like more financial education, saying it would provide them with greater confidence managing their finances. And yet, women across all generations are less likely to reach out to an adviser than men, with six out of 10 saying they have never consulted with a financial professional.
I will leave our listeners with this: do not be afraid to ask for financial advice. If you have questions, ask! Obviously, women have great instincts when it comes to saving and thinking long-term. Now, we just need to be confident enough to seek out advice when we need it, and embrace some risk. And to ask to be paid what we are worth.
Mellody is President of Ariel investments, a Chicago-based money management firm that serves individual investors and retirement plans through its no-load mutual funds and separate accounts. Additionally, she is a regular financial contributor and analyst for CBS News.