According to most sources, women still earn only about 77% of what men do in America. This statistic speaks to a deep-seated problem that pervades the nation’s financial industry. To counter this, some firms are appealing to women, a historically underrepresented group, to make sure they are prepared for retirement planning. However, are gender-specific retirement resources valuable?
PNC Bank is one of four firms in the Corporate Insight Bank Monitor coverage group to address the gender gap and is the only firm that brings attention to the issue on its public homepage. The firm recently added a Closing the “Gender Gap” on Financial Matters microsite to its public site outlining financial challenges for women. The eight challenges the firm identified include saving for retirement, taking time off from work, merging finances with a spouse, investing too cautiously, being properly insured, preparing for long-term care, maximizing Social Security and receiving beneficiary assets. PNC then provides suggestions on how women might assuage these challenges.
PNC cites scholarly articles, studies and websites to support and explain what it considers to be woman-specific challenges. The firm refers to a life-expectancy study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finding women live longer than men to emphasize saving for a longer retirement, preparing for more long-term care insurance and receiving Social Security survivor benefits. Featuring this content on the public homepage and citing reports are best practices in retirement resources because users are more likely see and trust the suggestions.
PNC’s Closing the “Gender Gap” on Financial Matters Banner Image
Four firms in Corporate Insight’s Bank Monitor coverage group provide minimal gender-specific coverage. Clients seeking gender-specific content would in most cases have to use the public site’s search function. Bank of America covers retirement for women in a slide deck, citing some of the same studies as PNC Bank. Similarly, the Wells Fargo The Private Bank April 2015 Wealth Planning Update, Balancing Financial Planning Priorities for Women considers how on track women are when planning to retire. BB&T also covers retirement planning for women, using statistics and hitting some of the same points as PNC, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.
Upon immediate inspection, gender-specific resources seem like something to question. In general, women work less toward saving for their retirement than men. According to BlackRock’s 2015 Global Investor Pulse Survey, 53% of working age women have started saving for retirement compared with 65% of men. Only 77% of women, compared to 82% of men, participate in their 401(k) or similar plan, and of those who participate, women contribute only 7% of their salary compared with men contributing 10% of their salary according to the 2015 TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies 15 Facts About Women’s Retirement Outlook. Public retirement resources are helpful for any working person but based on these differences between retirement contribution and participation, perhaps gender-specific resources are valuable in raising awareness in a segment of the population that is statistically less prepared for their financial futures than their male counterparts.
Excerpt from TransAmerica Women’s Retirement Outlook Slide Deck
As only 53% of women have started saving for retirement, gender-specific aid remains a valuable yet underrepresented resource. To close the gender gap, more than 22% of firms need to recognize the savings and investment potential of women and take steps to make sure the fairer sex does not become the poorer sex in retirement.