Girls Must Plan for 100-Year Life: Merrill

Women’s growing career and financial strength doesn’t necessarily translate into long-term fiscal health. That’s the takeaway from a Merrill/Age Wave study, “Women & Financial Wellness: Beyond the Bottom Line.”

“Women are driving massive changes in the workforce, in their communities and workplaces, and in their homes,” said Sheri Bronstein, international human resources executive at Bank of America, in a panel announcing the investigation as it was printed in April 2018. But while much has changed, women are still at a disadvantage when it comes to financial well-being.



  • Women continue to be at a disadvantage when it comes to long-term financial well-being.
  • The financial services industry tends to appeal to men.
  • Women are generally less confident than men when it comes to investing and regret not investing more.
  • Steps women can take to attain financial wellness include prep early and often, along with acknowledging and managing the financial challenges they face.

Girls’s Largest Financial Regret

Women are less likely than their male peers to invest, though 84% believe that understanding their funding is important to greater career flexibility. Their biggest financial regret is”not investing more.” 1

That doesn’t mean women are leaving it all to chance. Only one in four women 18 and older has not planned at all for her future. What’s holding them back from doing more: The research cites girls”not having the knowledge to spend” and”not having the confidence” as the substantial reasons they do not invest.

While women tend to be as confident as men in completing most financial jobs, they’re less so when it comes to investing their money (52 percent are convinced compared to 68 percent of men). Adding to the lack of confidence is social taboo: 61 percent of women surveyed would like to examine their own death than about money.

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“Millennial women had the least confidence in investing,” said Maddy Dychtwald, Age Wave co-founder, while older women were more likely to be convinced. “This presents a significant opportunity for cross-generational mentorship.”

Lack of Role Models

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It doesn’t help that media targeted to women is particularly thin on financial information. That difficulty is compounded by the financial services industry which, according to Megan Driscoll, founder and CEO of EvolveMKD, a public relations firm,”doesn’t promote women’s magazines.” While half of the financial services sector’s customer base is female, 70 percent of women report that the financial industry has traditionally catered to men.1

Part of the problem is that much financial media is composed in a male-focused voice,” said Diane Harris, former editor-in-chief of Cash magazine. Harris found that, though she was editor, 30 percent of her publish readers were female. As soon as they shifted their voice to focus more on women, female readership”jumped to 50%.” Part of it’s”talking to women in a way they want to be spoken to.”

Financial planning models don’t typically allow for the sort of fractures from work that many women decide to raise children or care for aging relatives.

Past the Pay Gap

Much has been written regarding the gender pay gap and the figures bear repeating: Women earn 82 cents for every dollar a person in a similar position makes.2 But these present-value figures”fail to demonstrate how the pay gap accumulates and substances inside the duration of a woman’s life,” according to Merrill.

While the average woman spends 44 percent of her adult life outside the workforce, the average man is only removed for 28%. The consequences of the career interruptions–to care for children, an ailing parent, or an ailing spouse –frequently accumulate over time to the tune of a $1,055,000 difference in lifetime earnings between men and women. And that, of course, influences how much money girls have to commit.1

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Planning to Age 100

With one in four 65-year-olds currently living past age 90 and one in 10 living past 95, everyone should aim for a longer lifespan. The most sensible amount: age 100. That is especially true for women, whose average life expectancy is five years longer than men’s.3

The dilemma of needing financial security for this longer lifespan is compounded by the fact that women tend to retire earlier (possibly to care for an ailing spouse ) and with less saved. Just 9 percent of American women have $300,000 or more location aside. What they need to acquire a standard retirement, according to the Merrill Age Wave study: $738,000. Furthermore, women’s longer lives mean they accrue nearly $200,000 more in medical expenses in their later years. The sobering out-of-pocket medical care costs through retirement (for example, long-term care ): $494,000 for guys, but $688,000 for women.1

“The cornerstone of saving for retirement hasn’t changed to promote the 100-year life,” said Victoria Mazur, head of compensation and benefits in Lord Abbett. “People aren’t thinking about this.”

The study was based on a nationally representative sample of 2,638 women and 1,069 men in the U.S. over age 18, surveyed between October 25 and November 22, 2017.

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Moving Forward From Here

“Women’s life journeys are not just different from men’s, they are not the same as the life journeys of our mothers and grandmothers,” said Dychtwald.

As Driscoll told the panel, “Laws may change, but attitudes in society take much longer.” Boomers grew up with limitations that required federal laws to eliminate. Lenders often demanded that women applying for a home mortgage present that a spouse’s or male relative’s signature before the Equal Credit Opportunity Act banned the practice in 1974. And until 1988, women in many nations still needed a man’s signature in order to apply for a business loan. Thank the Women’s Business Ownership Act for ending that inequity.4

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“Women have come a long way both professionally and personally, but when it comes to their finances, there is still a route left to blaze,” said Lorna Sabbia, head of Retirement and Personal Wealth Solutions for Bank of America Merrill Lynch in a statement.

What can help women achieve financial health? The study has four major recommendations:

  • Break the taboo around money conversation.
  • Switch longevity to an advantage.
  • Acknowledge financial challenges that affect women.
  • Plan early and often.

In other words women can take control of their financial futures by talking with friends, mentors, and professionals about money; starting early so their money has time to grow; saving and planning for career interruptions or more expensive healthcare costs; and doing and preparation course corrections along the way as necessary.

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