Factoring Gender Into Lifetime Income Discussions

Lincoln Financial Group conducted an analysis of the savings and investing habits of men and women, finding the latter group is more focused on protecting lifetime income in retirement.

A new report from Lincoln Financial Group, “Personal Finance: What Women Do Better Than Men,” considers ways men and women differ as decisionmakers when it comes to personal finance and retirement planning.

One key finding is that “female decisionmakers are more likely to incorporate financial products that help accumulate assets to provide income for retirement, such as an annuity, into their financial plans than male decisionmakers.”

According to Jamie Ohl, president, retirement plan services, Lincoln Financial Group, the findings “generally show that women, more than men, understand the importance of saving, recognize that unexpected events have the potential to disrupt financial stability, and are taking action to help secure their financial futures.” Women have the opportunity to build on these strengths, while also focusing on areas where they can improve, such as taking steps to protect their income and wealth, she adds.

The research finds nearly all women (90%) say it’s “important to stay on track of managing day-to-day living expenses,” compared to 79% of men. And while both men and women are optimistic about their financial futures, women are “more likely to say it is very important to save for the future, which includes both retirement and other financial goals.” Women “also understand the value of planning for income in retirement, as 71% believe retirement income planning is an important wealth-protection strategy for the future.”

Another important stat for retirement plan professionals to consider: “As part of that strong focus on the future, women are more likely than men to view life insurance as critical to their financial well-being, and they’re taking action. In 2016, 56% of women surveyed owned life insurance, compared to 49% in 20134.”

Lincoln’s research suggests women are also more aware than men that “unexpected issues beyond their control could affect their financial futures.”

“This awareness sets the stage for women to put in place financial protections that can help them be more prepared in the event of unforeseen circumstances,” Ohl says. “It is important to note that just 16% of women feel very confident that they would be able to cover their current expenses if they were faced with a serious injury or illness.”

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Fully 40% of women admit they “worry about becoming unable to work and make money due to a disability.”

“Women also feel significantly less prepared than men to protect their wealth from external factors such as taxes, inflation and market volatility,” Ohl says. This may seem like a negative finding, but Ohl sees it as a positive: “Again, women seem to be a little more realistic about how much is unknown about planning for the financial future.”

“Women have a firm grasp on the reality that unexpected health and other issues can arise at any time—disrupting life and throwing a wrench into financial plans,” agrees Diane Russell, senior vice president of group benefits at Lincoln Financial Group. “And women can turn this concern into a strength by arming themselves with the right financial protections. For example, enrolling in various insurance coverages through work can help protect income and safeguard financially against the unknown. Benefits frequently offered through the workplace, such as disability insurance, accident insurance and critical illness insurance, can help provide a layer of financial security in case of emergency.”

The research shows many women are already taking advantage of these protections: “63% of women offered disability insurance are currently enrolled, compared to 58% of men. However, not as many are taking advantage of benefits like accident insurance and critical illness insurance, which can help cover the cost of high deductibles or even provide a lump-sum payout in the case of a serious illness or injury.”

“Long-term care coverage is another important consideration for women,” Ohl warns. “The majority of caregivers in the U.S. are women, which can often lead to physical, emotional and financial stress—yet only nine percent of women own long-term care insurance.”

Ohl and Russell conclude the research shows women can build on their financial strengths by taking simple steps, such as meeting with an adviser, saving more for retirement and learning what insurance and investing options are available.

Additional research and information about this topic is available at www.lfg.com/women