Women Have Taken a Retirement Hit this Past Year – How Can They Recover?

<b>Susan Black, CFP® AEP® CAP®,</b><br>Senior Vice President,<br>Private Banking

Susan Black, CFP® AEP® CAP®,
Senior Vice President,
Private Banking

September 14, 2021

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 The median gender gap in retirement savings has widened to $41,000. 

 
The COVID pandemic and ensuing economic havoc have been responsible for exacerbating inequalities in our society. For women in the United States, the past year has been particularly challenging: according to the National Women’s Law Center, out of 4 million women who dropped out of the workforce in the first months of the pandemic, 1.8 million have yet to return.



Despite relative growth in this recovery, many women are facing long-term consequences, especially when it comes to their retirement. The median gender gap in retirement savings has widened to $41,000. About one quarter of all women now believe their confidence in their ability to retire comfortably has declined due to the pandemic.



Planning for a comfortable and meaningful retirement is difficult in the best of times; a once-in-a-century crisis coupled with systemic inequalities only heightens the challenges facing women. But there is hope. Through a combination of changing work opportunities and innovative investment strategies, there are pathways for women to reclaim their financial power in general and retirement planning in particular.
 

Flexible work options are opening the door to second acts for women

For many women, including those over 50, there is an optimism captured through a lens of empowerment. They see themselves as active contributors to their financial futures as they build towards economic independence well into their “retirement years”. They are recognizing opportunities to pursue second acts and new careers, finding that creative outlets for their skills allow them to control their financial destiny. Their efforts are fueling a growing segment of entrepreneurial successes across all sectors of the economy.
 

 Remote work allows for a greater work/life balance,
particularly for those who take care of children or elders. 


Remote work allows for a greater work/life balance, particularly for those who take care of children or elders. The current economic environment requires many women to continue working beyond the traditional retirement age. With a mixture of excitement and anxiety, these women can choose to take on roles that offer them more joy in the work they do – even if it comes at the expense of what had been perceived as stability.

It’s a shift from the “old way”, where many often felt a need to choose between employment that provided them a sense of security at the expense of work/life balance. This transition is creating a shift in the services they demand from their financial institutions. Women want thoughtful partners and advisors who understand them and are willing to be educators and collaborators in their success. They are demanding to be involved in decisions that will shape their lives and those of the people, causes and institutions they support.
 

Sustainable and responsible investing to grow savings in alignment with their values

As members of a growing class of wealth creators and retirement savers, women are now deploying their resources and investing intelligently. They realize that savings alone will not afford them the growth they will need to get through retirement. These informed investors understand that a key element of their success or failure will be driven by their portfolios’ performance. They are also being educated to know that timing markets matters less if you have time in the market.

To stay invested, these women need to come to terms with concepts like volatility and behavioral finance. It is true that in broad general terms, women have traditionally been more conservative in their investment approach, but there are now opportunities to grow their wealth by effectively defining risk metrics that suit them.
 

 Women can now invest in meaningful ways to grow
their assets without sacrificing their principles or a
focus on sustainability in the process. 


In addition, women can now invest in meaningful ways to grow their assets without sacrificing their principles or a focus on sustainability in the process. Thanks to the emergence of sustainable and responsible investing portfolios, crowd-funding and entrepreneurial mentoring, a growing number of women are creating wealth in alignment with their values. These women want to work with firms who support women and other traditionally disadvantaged segments of the population.

We’ve long seen women investors prefer to build portfolios that align with their values: they can now do so with the assurance that sustainable and responsible investing (SRI) can deliver real rewards for their retirement savings.

 

 It could be possible for us to emerge from this era
with a changed view on what a happy and meaningful
retirement could look like, and how to get there. 


A transformational moment for women planning their retirement

There’s no question that the past year has had a disproportionate economic impact on women in the United States, and there’s a long road to recovery ahead. However, the new realities of our working economy and a shift in investment approaches means that for many women, this could be a transformational moment in their retirement plans. With the right guidance and some new perspectives, it could be possible for us to emerge from this era with a changed view on what a happy and meaningful retirement could look like, and how to get there.
 
This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as investment or legal advice. Please consult your tax advisor and/or legal counsel to determine if the strategies described above are right for you.