Baby boomer, Gen X women fear not having enough retirement savings

Congresswoman encourages growth in number of female financial advisers

May 7, 2014 @ 2:03 pm

By Mark Schoeff Jr.

Most female baby boomers and Generation Xers fear they will not have sufficient money for retirement, a situation that's creating an opportunity for financial advisers, according to a report released Wednesday by the Insured Retirement Institute.

More than two thirds — 70% — of female baby boomers and 88% of Gen Xers have “weak or no confidence” that they will have enough money to “live comfortably throughout [their] retirement years,” the IRI study shows. Roughly the same number — 66% of baby boomers and 88% of Gen Xers — have “weak or no confidence” that they've done a good job preparing financially for retirement.

One reason for their bleak outlook about retirement is that nearly 20% of baby boomer women and 35% of Generation X women do not have any retirement savings, according to the report. Of the Gen X women who have saved for retirement, 44% have accumulated less than $50,000.

The study also found that women are not seeking financial advice. More than half of baby boomer women and 75% of Gen X women have not consulted a financial adviser.

“Unfortunately, few women across the baby boomer and Generation X groups are really confident in achieving a financially secure retirement,” Cathy Weatherford, IRI president and chief executive, said at a Capitol Hill event. “Women want help. They need help. We can do more to encourage the use of financial professionals to build holistic financial plans so that women become better prepared for their retirements.”

The economy has undermined women's ability to save for their post-work years, according to the report. For those in Gen X, 35% have had difficulty paying their mortgage or rent and 19% have stopped contributing to a retirement plan. For baby boomers, 21% have had trouble paying for housing and 17% have ended retirement contributions.

The study was based on a survey of 403 Gen X women between the ages of 32 and 51 in December and 414 baby boomer women between 51 and 67 in January. The portion about financial advice is based on a survey of 605 women between 25 and 49 who were surveyed in March.

Women financial advisers are well-positioned to meet women's needs in retirement planning, according to advisers who participated in the IRI event. Women make up about 25.7% of financial advisers in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Julie Casserly, president of JMC Wealth Management, said a female adviser is more adept at creating an environment in which women can tackle tough issues about their current finances and look ahead to retirement.

“I decided to let my freak flag fly,” Ms. Casserly said. “I decided to actually own my femininity and be who I am, and have a safe space for people to talk about their fears around money.”

Katie Libbe, vice president for consumer insights at Allianz Life, said women are looking for financial advisers who take a holistic approach to planning and are family-oriented.

“It's all about relationships and services,” Ms. Libbe said.

Those are areas where female advisers can excel, according to Millicent Eubanks, associate vice president for investments at Wells Fargo Advisors.

“There's a nurturing that we bring,” Ms. Eubanks said, “a desire to meet you where you are.”

A member of Congress encouraged growth in the number of female advisers.

“Women need financial security,” Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wisc. and a member of the House Financial Services Committee, said at the event. “Where are they going to get that advice? From other women.”

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