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BlackRock: What Women Really Think about Retirement

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Women want more teach, less tell when it comes to retirement planning. Anne Ackerley, Head of BlackRock’s U.S. & Canada Defined Contribution Group, explains.

Understanding how women think about investing is critical for the future of retirement. Women are on their way to holding the majority of wealth: they are likely to inherit most of the wealth transfer in the coming decades1, they’re the breadwinner (or co-breadwinner) in 60% of households2, they’re starting businesses at twice the rate of men3 – the list goes on.

In many ways, the future of investing is female. So why then, did the latest BlackRock Defined Contribution Pulse Survey (DC Pulse) also find that just 50% of women4 feel on track for retirement?

The answer, as it turns out, may not be what is expected.

Not so different

Survey findings that focus on gender differences often paint women as the underdog. Over the years, there have been many headlines that women save less than men, or that they’re afraid to take risk. However, by and large, women and men are saving at comparable rates and are invested at similar risk levels over the course of their careers.

In other words, men and women are all in the same boat.

So, it’s time to let go of the old narrative. It’s not about women being behind the curve–and it’s certainly not about pitting women against men.

Spare me the jargon

When DC Pulse dug into some of the reasons why half of women don’t feel on track for retirement, many mentioned that they feel alienated by the financial industry. They mentioned that they don’t relate to their employers’ communications; in fact, only 46% of women agreed that those materials help them decide how to manage their retirement savings4.

There’s more to be done as an industry, working in partnership with employers, to ensure the educational tools and resources that are developed resonate with how people actually want to consume information.

Ackerly feels that those in the investment industry need to speak more about life choices and practical outcomes. The connection needs to be drawn between planning today and the retirement income and lifestyle investors want for tomorrow.

And as individuals, “If we are not getting the pragmatic communications we want, we need to ask for the tools and insights to help us relate our choices to our lives.” Ackerly says, “I think we’ll find that everyone will appreciate a new level of clarity.”

Source: BlackRock Blog. May 8, 2019. The original article can be found at

1 Source: The Economist
2 Source: Center for American Progress
3 Source: U.S. Small Business Administration
4 Source: BlackRock 2019 DC Pulse Survey