TIAA-CREF Underscores Importance of Advice

A new TIAA-CREF survey shows that 63% of women who have received professional financial advice say they feel confident about their personal retirement readiness.

The annual Advice Matters Survey reveals that while women continue to report lower rates of confidence in their retirement readiness compared with men (56% vs. 63%), receiving financial advice can help eliminate the gender gap. In addition to feeling more confident, 81% of women who receive financial advice say they feel informed about retirement planning and retirement savings, compared with 63% who have not received advice.

After receiving financial advice, women are inclined to then take action, TIAA-CREF says. The survey reveals 87% of women take positive steps after receiving advice, such as adjusting their asset allocation or increasing savings rates. Sixty-four percent made a change in their spending habits, 57% increased the amount they save each month, 53% established a plan for managing debt, and 51% set up an emergency fund.

The analysis reports 33% of women are interested in receiving financial advice—a significant increase from 24% only a year ago. However, advice can come from a variety of resources and many women are still struggling to find the right one. Sixty-six percent of women said they find it hard to know what sources to trust, up from 48% in 2013. Thirty-nine percent report that it is hard to find the time to look for financial advice, up from 30% in 2013. Thirty-four percent say it is difficult to know where to start looking, up from 23% in 2013.

Kathie Andrade, executive vice president and head of individual advisory services at TIAA-CREF, believes that professional and personalized financial advice is available to women, but they often get sidetracked by several barriers. “We have found that there are ways to break through these obstacles and help women access relevant advice in ways that are convenient to them,” Andrade says.

Sixty-one percent of women say they rely on financial services providers for advice, and 41% turn to financial services providers’ websites or online tools. Each of these figures has increased each year since 2012. In addition, 57% of women would like access to tools and calculators that break down complex advice principles, while 54% are interested in participating in on-demand webinars. Fifty-two percent are interested in participating in live seminars that cover personally relevant financial topics.

TIAA-CREF launched its Woman2Woman Financial Living online community to support the growing group of women who use financial services providers’ website or online tools. The site provides a series of workshops and webinars where users can request in-person meetings with a financial adviser to discuss their retirement goals and objectives.

“Nearly half (49%) of the women surveyed say the ability to interact with someone online with basic personal financial questions would be helpful,” Andrade says. “It’s encouraging to see women really embrace the counsel they receive and use it to their advantage. And with women typically saving less for retirement than men, any strides toward improving financial well-being and retirement security should be applauded—and then used as a stepping stone toward the next financial goal.”

TIAA-CREF has made an executive summary available for the Advice Matters Survey.