More female advisers needed to improve engagement in retirement planning

Action must be accelerated to encourage greater gender diversity in the adviser community and help support female clients, senior industry figures have argued.

A virtual policy debate, hosted by the Equity Release Council (ERC) and Key, suggested a raft of measures are needed to close the gender retirement income gap.

A recent report by the ERC and Key had explored gender differences in retirement planning and found that nearly half of working women over the age of 55 are anxious about running out of money in retirement, indicating a need for better engagement to improve financial prospects.

Panellists highlighted key policy measures to help close the gender retirement gap in the future, including the potential to evolve auto-enrolment, and also emphasised the importance of creating well paid jobs and getting women in particular back into the workforce.

Chair of the panel and of the ERC, David Burrowes, said: “It is vital that we explore solutions to best support women to save more in the run-up to retirement and to think proactively and holistically about all options available.”

Key CEO, Will Hale, commented: “There is a huge opportunity in this market to engage women. Our client base is diverse, so the advice provision needs to reflect that. There are not enough female advisers in the industry and we need to address these imbalances by accelerating the focus on recruiting and training more female advisers.”

Panellists also warned of the negative impact the pandemic has had on women when it comes to retirement.

This comes as government figures have revealed the annual average pensioner income for single women has increased by just 2% over the last five years, compared to an 11% increase for single men. As a result, the gender retirement income gap has more than doubled from £1,560 a year in 2014/15, to £3,276 in 2019/202.

Hale added: “Initiatives like auto-enrolment and addressing the gender pay gap will help in the long-term, but those approaching retirement will not reap these benefits. They need help in the immediate term to navigate their way to achieving a comfortable retirement.”

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