Super gender gap continues to hurt older Australian women

21 February 2023
| By Rhea Nath |
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Women over the age of 50 in Australia are increasingly worried about the impacts of rising costs and recession on their superannuation savings compared to their male counterparts, according to research. 

In a survey of over 5,000 Australians over the age of 50 by Australian Seniors, women were less likely to feel like they had a plan B for retirement in the event of a recession.

Some 44% of women over 50 said they had strong concerns about the rising cost of living compared to 35% of men over 50. Women were also more likely to be fearful around the impact a recession would have on their super at 37% versus 28% for men.

The findings of The Super Savvy Report 2023 also revealed women had less of a tendency to check the returns on their super fund, 53% of men said they checked every month while 59% of women said they only checked quarterly or less.

Overall, women recorded lower levels of financial confidence across areas like understanding the impacts of a major recession and market downturn on their retirement plans, understanding the retirement savings product they were using, and different financial products and services. 

Unfortunately, the findings also revealed the gender gap in super balances had shown little improvement over the years. Career punctuation remained the identified top reason for this divide (76%), followed by women working in lower-paying industries (59%), and the gender pay gap (55%).

A silver lining was the fact that almost a third of older Australians who were married or living with a partner said they were taking active steps to address this gap. The most popular strategies employed were making additional contributions (74%) and splitting contributions (23%).

 

Moving into retirement

According to older Australians who participated in the survey, trustworthiness ranked first in their list of reasons for choosing a super provider (85%) followed by returns (79%) and fees (75%).

In choosing a super product, they valued easy access to the interest, dividends and franking credits generated, and control to tailor their investments to the values that matter to them. 

The survey also found uncompetitive returns was the most important factor that would encourage men to switch funds while for women, it was high fees.

The vast majority of respondents (90%) valued a seamless transition from savings to retirement to turning their savings into their retirement income without incurring capital gains tax, along with flexible retirement income options.

More than eight in 10 over-50s valued the absence of fixed dollar fees (85%) and the absence of minimum fees (82%). 

The most commonly cited service that over 50s believed their current super fund needed to improve was keeping them informed of current market conditions and what they were doing about it (41%). 

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