Super trouble for women

Robin Bowerman, Head of Retail at Vanguard Investments Australia.
Robin Bowerman, Head of Retail at Vanguard Investments Australia.

AS federal politicians debate over paid parental leave, the plight of women’s superannuation savings has been highlighted once again this week with the release of a report, Superannuation Savings Gap for Women, authored by superannuation consultants and actuaries Rice Warner.

The report, commissioned by the Investment & Financial Services Association (IFSA), presents a sorry picture that cannot be reinforced too many times – particularly given the rapid ageing of Australia’s population and the widespread inadequacy of retirement savings.

The issue of women withdrawing from the paid workforce for a period to raise children and the inadequacy of their retirement savings are indelibly linked. And that is yet another reason why the current parliamentary debate over parental leave is so interesting.

In painstaking detail, Rice Warner sets out how and why women typically will end their working lives with much lower superannuation savings than their male counterparts.

The combination of interrupted working lives, typically lower pay than men doing the same work, and the financial impact of caring for children following divorce take a tremendous toll on the ability of many women to save for retirement.

Women not only enter retirement with much lower average super balances than men, they really need more super than men to allow for their great longevity.

Rice Warner’s report presents some fascinating scenarios or case studies, illustrating in stark dollar terms how women’s super is really handicapped.

There seems little doubt that the state of women’s retirement savings will become an increasingly hot issue during 2010.

In coming weeks, Smart Investing will examine some innovative ideas being put forward to assist women to boost their super savings.

Listen to the audio podcast:

Robin Bowerman, Vanguard Investments Australia's Head of Retail, has more than two decades of experience in the finance industry as a writer, commentator and editor.

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