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AXA Equitable Finds Twice As Many Women Than Men Are Worried About Saving For Retirement

NEW YORK, May 17 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company released today results of a recent study, Retirement in America: A Survey of Concerns and Expectations, that show twice as many women than men say their top financial worry is not being able to save enough for retirement (22% versus 11% respectively). The recent financial crisis has had a profound effect, specifically on women, with fewer women than men recovering the majority of their retirement savings investments (28% versus 37% respectively).

An equal number of women and men (six in 10) think investing in equities is important for reaching their retirement goals, and even more women than men are "troubled" or "kept up at night" about inflation eroding their retirement savings (41% vs. 34% respectively). Yet today, 60 percent of women are not confident that investing in equities is a good idea, compared to 47 percent of men. Additionally, nearly 50 percent more women than men (62% vs. 42% respectively) lack confidence in their ability to invest in equities.

In the past 12 months, women were less likely than men to have made any changes to their investments in stocks – 60 percent of women did not make any changes to their stock investments in contrast to 49 percent of men. Men, however, were more likely to have increased their investment contributions – 25 percent of men have increased contributions to stocks, versus only 16 percent of women.

"The results show women are conflicted. They know they need to invest for growth potential so their savings can last for 20 to 30 years of retirement, yet they lack confidence in their ability to invest so they aren't doing anything," said Barbara Goodstein, executive vice president and chief innovation officer for AXA Equitable. "Not taking any action, however, could put them at greater risk."

Women Want Guarantees

Women are very clear when it comes to what they want in a retirement product – they want guarantees. The study found:
  • 89 percent of women think it's "extremely or very important" for a retirement product to protect the principal of their investments, and 85 percent think it's extremely or very important for a product to protect their investments, even when the stock market goes down.
  • 81 percent of women want a product that provides guaranteed income for life regardless of market performance.

"Investing involves risk, but some retirement products do allow for upside potential along with asset protection and guaranteed income for life," said Jamie Shepherdson, president of Retirement Savings for AXA Equitable. "Since the market crash, new products have been designed to meet the increased demand for protection. These new products give consumers the opportunity to invest for growth but also to provide reliable retirement income. Our industry needs to do a better job of letting consumers know these options exist."

Working with a Financial Professional Makes a Difference

The percentage of women working with a financial professional has increased significantly. Among the majority of women surveyed (aged 35 to 70), 58 percent have a primary financial professional, up 17 percent from just a year ago. These relationships are making a difference. Women who use financial professionals faired better during the crisis and are more focused on their finances. Notable results include:
  • 41 percent of all women with financial professionals report recovering some of their losses, in contrast to just 28 percent of women without financial professionals.
  • In the past year, 62 percent of women with financial professionals have reduced their discretionary spending, versus about half (51%) of those without financial professionals.
  • One in five (21%) women without financial professionals have cancelled their individually-purchased life insurance in the past year, versus only nine percent of women with financial professionals.

Women working with financial professionals are also more aware of future risks to their retirement income, including inflation and the potential for rising taxes. Sixty-four percent of women working with financial professionals believe inflation rates will rise in the coming year, versus just over half (54%) of those without financial professionals. And, while 92 percent of women with financial professionals predict taxes will be higher in three years, only 79 percent of women without financial professionals agree.

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