PSCA panel: Women face more challenges in retirement security

Retirement savings are crucial for everyone, but women face unique challenges in achieving retirement security, said Donna MacFarland, founder and president of Accelerate Strategies LLC, moderating the panel “The Influence of Gender on Retirement Savings,” at the Plan Sponsor Council of America’s 69th Annual Conference in Nashville on Wednesday.

Putting pressure on women’s retirement security is their higher life expectancy, lower earnings, spending more time away from work and fulfilling care-giving responsibilities for older parents, resulting in lost wages, among other issues, said Cindy Hounsell, president of the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement, speaking on the same panel.

A Vanguard Group study released last year exploring the gender influence found that women actually participated in their 401(k) plans at higher rates and saved more than men in 2014, but men had higher account balances due to their higher wages, said Jean Young, senior research analyst, Vanguard Center for Retirement Research.

The study also found that men scored higher than women on financial literacy, women were more likely to hold a single target-date fund, and that men and women had similar equity allocations.

That being said, automatic enrollment is helping mitigate some of the gender differences, Ms. Young said.

Data for the Vanguard report was derived from participants in Vanguard plans.