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Gender Gap Problems with Super and What We Can do about It


Regardless of advances in equal pay, the majority of men are still wealthier than women at retirement age. However, women wishing to increase a super fund independently face several problems. The ASIC reported that Australian women who were retiring in 2007 had $35,300 less superannuation than men on average.

Also, ASIC reports that 56% of semi and fully-retired women who are over 55 years old plan to depend on the annuity to finance their retirement. The figure is 38% for men.

The reason women are behind in superannuation

Women earn less money throughout their career. An Australian government report conducted in April 2012 on workforce participation show that 46.1% of men are employed full-time compared to women whose figure is 25% only.

The careers of women are disrupted by child care or pregnancy. They are also more likely to enter the labor force in a part-time or casual capacity. As a result women usually earn less money and thus save less superannuation.

Planning too late

In general, women live longer than men and this is reason enough for them to save more on super. But many of the women wait until they are older before planning for their financial future. By then, the path to financial security becomes harder. That’s according to AMP’s technical manager Chris Kirby,.

Even for females in secure relationships, superannuation may begin as a joint proposition, yet issues can arise in case a divorce or separation occurs.

Sensible planning

Sarah Riegelhuth, the director, and co-founder of Wealth Enhancers thinks that women who manage their superannuation independently and abide by the sensible financial guidance can save plenty for retirement income.

Riegelhuth gives this advice that equally applies to both women and men - to start planning for your future early. The earlier you plan, the better off you will be. If you can save a bit of your income to super from a young age, then you will experience the huge impact in this small difference over a long time.

Delia Rickard, an ex-ASIC consumer protection specialist, states that accumulating enough superannuation to last throughout retirement is crucial for women, especially with their life expectancy. It is imperative that women begin to consider saving early for retirement and carrying and planning for themselves.
Delia Rickard recommends women to:

Also, There Is No Similar Inequity in Salary

Part of the issue is that the financial services industry has generally been dominated by males. Jackson believes the industry has to work at grasping the needs of women better. Looking for a financial adviser who knows the problems women are facing is a crucial step.

She says there have to be more financial professionals making what’s called a more modern dialogue. It is not about providing women with various financial products. It is about making a significant change on how the financial services industry answers them.

Tips for handling your superannuation

SMSF Gender Gap still a Problem

While men hold bigger average balances than women in all SMSF or Self-managed Super Funds, women up to 70 years old hold bigger balances in single-member funds, which show that certain changes have been to the gender gap in SMSF.

The Class SMSF Benchmark study showed that super forms, set to be used following financial year, have the likelihood to close this gender gap, with females (under 70) currently have the advantage over males in single-member fund balance. Also, it will be interesting to see the way the present SMSF gender gap could be impacted by the reforms, and we look ahead to monitoring the changes.

Superannuation Reforms are having an enormous effect on the SMSF industry, which prompts advisers and their customers to think through strategies that will allow them to stay within the $1.6 million Transfer Balance Cap.

Among all SMSF categories, males have up to $150,000 in super more than females, with the biggest gap present between the 60 and 80 age group. Class checked the switch at age 70 to males topping single member funds was possibly an indication of females retiring earlier, or making less money toward retirement.

There remains an enormous difference between the average balances of fund members in two funds, with the first fund member owning nearly twice the assets and money of the second. On the other hand, we’d expect that difference to decrease now that the superannuation reforms have put tighter limitations around member balances and contributions.

As a group, males presently have 37% more assets than females, and their average balance is 25% higher. Also, Class found that females favored defensive assets, placing women at a disadvantage to males who chose an aggressive distribution.

Typically, SMSFs utilize ETFs as a passive investment in shares as well as to acquire exposure to boost market equities. Australian listed property and emerging markets are relatively common as well.

Class stated that international ETFs presently comprise 59% of the major ETF investment holdings, along with iShares Core S&P 500 ETF the most common with 21% of super funds with ETFs in it.

Keep the Focus on the Superannuation Gender Gap

Financial services sector leaders have been advised to keep concentrating on the super gender gap, as well as to continue boosting to shift the societal and cultural factors that reinforce it. Averagely, Australian females are still retiring with super balances 46.6% lower than males. Legislation aiming gender equity is certainly part of the key, but can only partly correct this economic and social issue.

Loads of the gender gap in superannuation amounts to societal and cultural attitudes toward voluntary, unpaid work, workplace flexibility, as well as women’s role in family and work, says Jordan George, SMSFA (Self-managed Superannuation Fund Association) head of policy. We have to do something to these problems, as well as seeking legislative answers.

Along with the Financial Services Council, as well as the Commonwealth Bank, the Self-Managed Super Fund Association has held the “Women, Super and Wealth Summit,” held in Sydney, Australia on April 27, 2017. The program of the summit attempts to keep the focus on the gender gap in retirement outcomes of women as well as develop approaches that financial service providers can utilize to lessen it.

The sessions tackled the gender gap causes, how to engage women to campaign for a generational change, likely policy solutions, as well as case studies of established practices to enhance retirement outcomes.

Presenters in the summit included: Kelly O’Dwyer (Minister for Revenue and Financial Services); Linda Elkins (Colonial First State Executive General Manager); Michael Rice (Rice Warner Chief Executive); Kate Carnell (Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman); and Sandra Buckley (Women in Super Executive Officer).
Discussions keep these notions in the public eye and can aid to change cultural attitudes faster. Super funds and financial services ought to be taking a management role in dealing with this societal issue. Organisers hoped that people took implementable notions from the program back to their businesses in order to help females who are clients and employees. This should aid change beliefs and attitudes that reinforce the gender gap.

Also, SMSF advisers have to make sure that the strategies of the trustees emphasize women’s superannuation, as approximately 70% of SMSFs are owned by married couples. It’s crucial the investments and advice that are being done cater for women’s super as well. Institutional superannuation funds have to increase and improve advice, as the retirement outcomes of women are very different than those for men. As senior administrators are still mostly male, they have to support the changes needed for progress.

Super Gender Gap Not Just About Asset Balances

In superannuation, the gender gap isn’t only a matter of reduced balances, but of confidence as well; a new study has indicated. Research, released by the SMSF Association (SMSFA) and Commonwealth Bank, found a huge difference in the confidence levels and behaviors of males and females in terms of SMSFs and superannuation.

We embrace this comprehensive research as it openly addresses the confidence and engagement of females in their superannuation savings and investments all through their lifecycle. Also, while women make up nearly 50% of all trustees in SMSF, the study revealed that women were less confident than males in managing super fund, with 83% of males stating they were “quite or very confident” in managing super funds, compared to 62% of females. Moreover, 77% men were much expected to have started the set-up of their super fund.

The research discovered, in SMSFs with numerous members, males were much more expected to be the only major decision-maker for their super fund – 65% for males and 28% for females. This is despite, but in limited cases, SMSF members needed to be directors or trustees of the corporate trustee.

Head of SMSF Customers for Commonwealth Bank Marcus Evans stated the research revealed that there’s still an actual gender divide for trustees in terms of knowledge and confidence.

Given that females make up almost half of all SMSF members, more should be done to improve support as well as empower women trustees. Also, this is true in terms of funds with joint-trustees, with huge life events like a divorce which leaves numerous female trustees with no confidence to manage large investments. The report was based on a study of 801 SMSF trustees as well as 535 people with no SMSF.

Superannuation Reform Effect on Gender Gap Probed

A new study has shown certain perspectives into the average SMSF balance of women and men. This research into the average super balances of both genders have been shown considering the superannuation reforms’ effect on possibly resolving the gender gap as stated in a new report.

The “September SMSF Benchmark Report” revealed by Class discovered that across SMSFs in all age categories, males have higher average super balances than women, with the biggest gap found between the ages 60 and 80, when males have up to $150,000 more in super than those of females.

On the other hand, a focus on single-member super funds showed the opposite. In this category, women have higher balances than those of men up to age 70, when males take the lead. As stated by the report, this change at 70 may be because of females retiring earlier, or it may be that older women made less money throughout their working lives.
In terms of asset allocation choices, women favored defensive assets while males leaned towards aggressive growth assets, the study found.

Superannuation reforms are having an enormous effect on the SMSF industry, which prompts advisers as well as their clients to think through strategies that will allow them to stay within the $1.6m transfer balance cap. Also, it will be fascinating to check out how the present SMSF gender gap could be affected by the changes and we expect monitoring changes over the impending quarters.

Bridging the Gender Gap

A study has revealed that females are less confident than males in managing their self-managed superannuation fund. Confidence doesn’t equal competence, and there’s a need for better knowledge.

Also, advisers can play an active part to increase the financial understanding of women. Although nearly half of members are women, they’re less confident than the men in managing their super fund as well as in their knowledge of asset classes.

A research study, commissioned by the SMSF Association and Commonwealth Bank, recently found that 83% of men SMSF members and trustees are quite or very confident in dealing with their SMSF, compared with women with only 62%. [At 62%, the statistic for females was higher than many expected in the industry.] Also, men are far more confident than females in their knowledge of share trading – mainly global share exposure and ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds).

For instance, men are expected to invest in hybrid securities, and Australian shares and are more positive about the international shares’ outlook. But when asked to think through women’s longer life expectancy, 56% of SMSF trustees think that women must adopt aggressive investment strategies in order to support themselves upon retirement better.

A Requirement for Knowledge

Though confidence doesn’t equal competence, and there’s no representative SMSF investor, it is clear that there’s a gap here. So this is a chance for advisors to promote client knowledge. Provided that the average trustee thinks they would retire at age 63, it is crucial to look beyond their super balance and ensure all members know things like:

By inquiring on clients what they know about these fields, you can aid them to fill gaps as well as get a better perspective of what their goals may be. Also, involving the two parties can be a way to improve confidence in each other.

Estate Planning

Things do not constantly go as planned because nearly half of SMSF members are aware that they have gone through a life event that may affect how they manage their super fund. Given males, where the SMSF has numerous trustees, are more likely to have started the SMSF than their spouse (77%), and are more likely to be the only decision maker (65%), divorce or death can have a devastating effect on the retirement security of their spouse.

That’s the reason it is worrying to know that only 49% of super fund members were very confident that in case their partner ceased from becoming a trustee, they’d have sufficient knowledge and take the sole responsibility of dealing with their super investments.

Advisers have to ensure that plans are set for death, divorce, or separation. If any of these things occur, females are more likely than males to change their SMSF to support their investment goals.

Be Ready For a Generational Change

Also, the research looked into generational differences, and discovered that Generation Y females (aged 18 to 34) are a lot more confident than older ones in their knowledge of the more intricate asset classes such as international shares, International ETFs, Australian ETFs, Real Estate Investment Trusts, hybrid securities and structured products– and younger members are less likely to hire an accountant or financial planner to establish and maintain their super fund than Baby Boomers.

Advisers have a chance to help younger members know their financial affairs and provide guidance and peace of mind about major financial decisions their clients make over the course of their lives.

By understanding the various generational and gender dynamics behind their choices, you can meet their desires and guarantee that any recommendations are plainly understood – irrespective of generation or gender.

The Future Of Superannuation For Women

Women's Financial Network’s Susan Jackson states that the financial services division has to change its regulations if women are to reach their maximum financial potential. There is a huge indication that there will be a large transfer of money to women in 20 years as they are independently well-off and receiving more wealth.


Disclaimer: All information on this website is of a general nature only. We have not taken into account your financial situation, needs or objectives. You need to make up your own mind and ascertain yourself if it is right for you. We recommend you read the product disclosure statement(s) and the financial services guide before making any financial decision.

FIND YOUR SUPER ACCOUNTS FREE of charge!

Have you changed your name, address or job in recent times?

If so, Now is the time to find those multiple funds & consolidate your super!

Australian Super Finder specialise in searching for lost, inactive and active superannuation accounts.

Complete the form to find your money. complete the form

Free Super Search
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Australian Super Finder is a business name of The Trustee of Saicare Trust ABN 44 772 398 737. The Trustee of Saicare Trust is an Authorised Representative of Financial Advisers Dealer Group Pty Ltd ABN 19 620 315 228 AFSL No. 501362, Authorised Representative Number 463275. All information on this website is of a general nature only. We have not taken into account your financial situation, needs or objectives. You need to make up your own mind and ascertain yourself if it is right for you. We recommend you read the product disclosure statement(s) and the financial services guide before making any financial decision.