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Women are on the brink of a finance epidemic

Money Doctor is a column written by Unividual's Cherie-Anne Baxter in Bristol Life Magazine. This edition she focuses on how women can build their financial literacy and create more independence for themselves and their family.

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For decades women have never been at the centre of their own finances

What can we say about the women in our lives? Mums, Aunties, Grandmothers, Sisters and in no particular order of importance, we couldn’t live without them. Key moments in the last few years have changed the way women are talked about, respected and appreciated. The more we appreciate the women in our lives the more we fall short of words to describe how much they mean to us. Whilst things are changing, men and women continue to expose the gender imbalance we still live with, such as data bias in a world that still feels designed by men, for men. This is systemic in financial services, from banking through to insurance and retirement planning, for decades women have never been at the centre of their own finances. Whilst small pockets of businesses are trying to change this, and the numbers of women working in a position of power in financial services is growing, decades of neglect are creating a finance epidemic of its own.

Women have less pension prospects than men

This isn’t just about the continued discrepancy in life-time earnings between men and women. Whilst nauseating, if you compound this on to lower-paid work, career breaks and part-time jobs women are left with less pension prospects and a dependency on their spouse to provide for them during retirement. When we talk to women about this you can see the realisation wash across their face. Women and men should take joint ownership over money management, without female representation women won’t get the financial support they deserve. So, where do we start with all this, how can we rally around and ignite change?

What families can do

Talk about who takes on most of the housework, childcare duties or other caring responsibilities? If that person is sacrificing their career and earnings they are also sacrificing pension contributions. This means they won’t have as much money to retire on and could be reliant on their partner or the state. This is grossly unfair but could also impact on your children if you separate, your spouse looses their income or at worse they die. Make time to plan for this and if you don’t know where to start or you want a professional to represent you both fairly, you should outsource your finances to a financial adviser.

What employers can do

Parents and carers opting for part-time work and career breaks could see their prospects for promotion reduced. This effects lifetime earnings potential and participation in workplace pensions. As an employer how can you embrace flexible working patterns and ensure people aren’t overlooked for promotion? Think about how you could adapt your benefits for part-time workers, especially around retirement planning, and what support you can give staff to improve financial literacy and wellbeing.

What can we do for our parents

The older generation are less inclined to understand the gender imbalance in finance. Women are living longer than men, are more likely to incur higher care costs and have lower retirement savings. Not a great recipe for old age. Find out what provisions they have put in place for this. Can they afford their own care, or do you need to budget for this? Not knowing these things could mean making tough decisions later down the line, like selling the family home. Then have a think about what position you are in for long-term care and how it could affect your children. If you survived your other-half, or vice versa, what money would you both have access to?

Whilst we are making serious inroads to reduce the unfair gap between men and women in all aspects of life there is still a way to go in many areas of life, not least financial services. With the education, knowledge and tools to support eachother you can achieve great fairness in how you manage your money either as an independent woman or as a couple.


Author & Editor: Cherie-Anne Baxter

Date: 24/03/2022

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