Women big losers in su­per sav­ings

The West Australian - - FRONT PAGE - Neale Prior

Aus­tralia’s su­per­an­nu­a­tion sys­tem is fail­ing WA women, putting them at risk of hav­ing to rely on the age pen­sion or their hus­bands in re­tire­ment.

The in­se­cure fu­ture fac­ing women has been ex­posed in a ground­break­ing sur­vey of the in­ner fi­nan­cial af­fairs of WA fam­i­lies.

More than 1600 peo­ple re­sponded to the Who’s the Boss sur­vey — car­ried out for The Week­end West and WA Su­per — which found only half of sin­gle WA women could ex­pect to have enough sav­ings for a semi­in­de­pen­dent re­tire­ment and less than one-quar­ter could ex­pect to be com­fort­able in their golden years.

The sur­vey also re­vealed fi­nan­cial vul­ner­a­bil­ity was not lim­ited to women:

23 per cent of West Aus­tralians worry about money and many are re­ly­ing on an in­her­i­tance and ris­ing house prices to bankroll the fu­ture.

Four in five baby boomers in­tend to put an en­joy­able re­tire­ment ahead of leav­ing an in­her­i­tance.

The big­gest money wor­ries are in house­holds earn­ing $100,000 to $150,000 a year.

Peo­ple in re­gional WA worry most about money.

CoreData WA di­rec­tor Kris­ten Turnbull said some of the big­gest risks were faced by so-called “sil­ver split­ters” — women who found them­selves alone in their

later work­ing years with lower sav­ings. “The hus­band isn’t a re­tire­ment plan, but women in a re­la­tion­ship are whole lot bet­ter off,” she said.

Unit­ing Care West deputy chief ex­ec­u­tive Kim Brook­lyn said there had been a big in­crease in women in their 50s be­ing home­less af­ter years of mar­riage. “They end up home­less or couch surf­ing be­cause they don’t have enough money,” she said. “It’s an in­cred­i­bly dis­tress­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.”

A de­tailed anal­y­sis of sav­ings and in­comes shows more than 40 per cent of men are wellplaced to get be­yond the $545,000 sav­ings fig­ure the As­so­ci­a­tion of Su­per­an­nu­a­tion Funds of Aus­tralia says a sin­gle per­son needs for a com­fort­able re­tire­ment.

Only 25 per cent of women could ex­pect to ac­cu­mu­late $545,000 — and only if their ca­reers were not in­ter­rupted by rais­ing chil­dren and they en­joyed sim­i­lar ca­reer pro­gres­sion to their male coun­ter­parts.

The av­er­age su­per bal­ance of men is more than 70 per cent higher than women, with some of the big­gest dif­fer­ences when women head into their 50s af­ter years of job in­ter­rup­tion.

WA Su­per chief ex­ec­u­tive Fabian Ross pointed to Roy Mor­gan re­search show­ing that at age 42, a work­ing woman’s av­er­age earn­ings were about $68,000 a year and their su­per­an­nu­a­tion bal­ance about $115,000. Male work­ers av­er­aged $93,500 in earn­ings and a $153,500 in su­per.

Mr Ross said a woman in that po­si­tion would need to save $140 a week to reach a com­fort­able re­tire­ment goal — ver­sus about $45 for the av­er­age man.

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