Time to take control
A recent survey by 10X Investments found that many women are not prepared for retirement as they have been reliant on their partners for their financial security. There is still an unfortunate misconception that financial planning and retirement investing should be a man’s responsibility in a marriage or partnership.
According to Sohini Castille, head of employee benefits consulting at 10X Investments, the research found that women were almost 10% less likely to save or invest than men were.
“We found that 32% of female South Africans feel vague and unsure about their retirement plans. Men, on the other hand, are almost 10% more clear on their long-term investment and savings plans,” says Castille.
Men are more likely to make use of investment vehicles to grow their wealth, while women are nervous of investing and tend to save in cash – this further reduces the amount of savings a woman will have when she retires.
Castille says women also feel more inexperienced as investors, and prefer to use an adviser to help them, while their male counterparts seem to be more independent when making financial decisions, and conduct their own research and use online resources.
The fact that women are more likely to consult an adviser is not necessarily a bad thing, as men can overestimate their own financial abilities, and they tend to focus on investment returns rather than having a holistic approach to investment planning. The downside of a more consultative approach is that it can lead to indecisiveness.
The simple reality is that, as women, we will ultimately be responsible for our own financial futures – 80% of women will manage their own finances during their lifetime for various reasons, such as if they are unmarried, divorced or widowed.
In South Africa, we have a serious issue with the financial pressure of single mothers. An Old Mutual Savings and Investment Monitor survey, which only interviewed working, urban mothers, found that about half of them were raising children on their own, and only 12% received regular income from the father. Unemployed or rural women were not included in this research.
Every year, about 25 000 marriages in South Africa end in divorce, accounting for a divorce rate of more than 50%. Interestingly, the majority of divorces are initiated by women. Even if you find your Mr Right and live happily ever after, statistically, you will be left a widow as women outlive men by about seven years. So, leaving your finances to a partner to deal with is simply not an option.
If you are one of those women who are afraid to take control of your finances, put some time aside to understand your current financial position. If you are married, have a discussion with your partner about the family’s financial goals. If you want advice, do some research and find the right person to help you. It’s important to take that first step.
– Maya Fisher-French