Retirement Concerns Growing for Women, Shrinking for Men

Confidence in investment decisions among women is much lower than men and the gap is widening, a MassMutual poll of retirement plan participants found. 

Men believe the stock market will improve rather than decline in the next 12 months at a ratio twice that of women (16:1 for men versus 8:1 for women). Overall, only 37% of participants are confident in making their own investment decisions (versus 43% last year).

MassMutual Retirement Services found women are significantly less confident in making their own investment decisions than men, 26% to 44%. At the same time last year, the percentages were 33% for women and 48% for men. Likewise, more men enjoy learning about investments (72%) than do women (54%), and more women (53%) than men (35%) prefer to spend as little time as possible on investment decisions.

Overall, 67% of respondents are concerned they won’t have enough saved for retirement versus 65% last year. In this year’s survey, the percentage of women concerned increased by 4.4 percentage points to 75%, while the percentage of men declined by 1.3 percentage points to 62%. Participants of both genders are also becoming more conservative in their investing behavior. Among participants who made a change in their approach to investing in the last 12 months, 62% became more conservative compared to 38% who became more aggressive.

Among all respondents, 40% identified being able to retire as their greatest concern, up from 37% last year. Significantly, nearly three quarters agree they have more responsibility for achieving retirement income objectives than their employer. Managing debt is the greatest financial concern for participants under age 40, while being able to retire is by far the greatest concern for people 40 years old or above, MassMutual said.

“Being able to retire is the greatest overall concern among defined contribution plan participants by a large margin – almost two and a half times the concern about healthcare costs (15%), and much higher than job security (12%) and managing debt (14%),” said Elaine Sarsynski, executive vice president of MassMutual’s Retirement Services Division and chairman and CEO of MassMutual International LLC, in the news release.

MassMutual’s Retirement Services Division conducted an online survey between November 15, 2010, and January 15, 2011, of 1,517 participants in retirement plans on the MassMutual platform.