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Savings gap leaves women unprepared for retirement

Only 23% of female workers feel financially prepared for retirement, in comparison to 36% of men

The Lifetime Savings Challenge Report, developed by Close Brothers Asset Management in conjunction with the Pension and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA), found that half of female employees (51%) admit to feeling financially unprepared for their retirement compared to just 35% of men.

The average woman’s workplace pension scheme was found to be less than half that of their male colleagues. On average women have £53,000 saved whereas men have £120,000.

The research stated that this savings gap has been perpetuated by the gender pay gap, with the study coming as analysis of Office for National Statistics data by the Young Women’s Trust revealed that women are losing nearly £140 billion a year because of gender pay differences.

While men earn an average full-time salary of £39,003 a year, women in full-time work earn 23% less at £29,891. This is largely because male employees tend to be paid a higher wage, reach more senior positions, and work in higher-paid industries, the Young Women’s Trust said.

However, earnings were not the only factor contributing to insufficient savings, according to the Close Brothers and PLSA report. It revealed that only a third (36%) of women feel confident about choosing the right financial service, in comparison to 45% of men.

When it comes to savings outside of work, female workers are twice as likely to have less than £5,000 (29%) compared to their male counterparts (15%).

Jeanette Makings, head of financial education services at Close Brothers, said: “The savings crisis is thrown into stark relief when looked at under the lens of gender imbalance. Women are not only earning less and therefore saving less, but are significantly less confident about the savings options available and how to choose what’s best for them.

"Women are far more likely to trust friends and family or personal savings websites, which are unlikely to provide suitable and comprehensive information across the entire savings landscape.”

Worryingly, three-quarters (75%) of respondents said that their employers did not provide any form of financial education. Makings stressed the importance of employers doing so. "But they need to consider the diverse needs of their audience, including what style and content suits individual members of their workplace," she advised.

The research was based on surveys conducted among 1,000 employers with 200 or more employees, and 2,009 employees from companies with 200 or more employees. The research was carried out by Opinium on behalf of Close Brothers Asset Management.