Men still take lead in retirement planning – survey

A global study of attitudes to retirement and financial planning commissioned by HSBC reveals that 65 per cent of men make all or most of their household’s financial decisions without input from anyone else.

The only area where women are more likely to be the decision-maker is in managing the household budget, where 37 per cent of women globally take sole responsibility, compared to 34 per cent of men. Even here, this gender gap disappears among those in their thirties, with younger men taking a stronger interest in domestic budgeting than older generations.

In Canada, when planning for retirement, about half of all men (49 per cent) and women (54 per cent) say they share responsibility for making decisions about saving for retirement. However, the gap widens when it comes to men (34 per cent) and women (24 per cent) who say they take, or are given, sole responsibility for these decisions.

There is greater gender equality in China and South Korea, where just three per cent fewer women than men take sole responsibility for retirement planning. Taiwan is the only country where more women than men say they are solely responsible for taking decisions about saving for retirement (39 per cent compared to 35 per cent of men).

These findings come as part of the latest in a series of reports on retirement and financial planning from HSBC, entitled The Future of Retirement: Why family matters, which is based on a survey of 17,000 people in 17 countries across five continents.

Retirement planning is a key area where men tend to take the lead globally, with four in 10 men (39 per cent) claiming sole decision-making responsibility, compared to 25 per cent of women. The figure falls to just one in 10 women (11 per cent) claiming sole responsibility in UAE, compared to 45 per cent of men.

Many women believe they are more involved in planning their financial future than men think they are. When asked who is involved in making or reviewing their financial plans, women are more likely than men to say that they share this process with their spouse or partner.

Margaret Willis, Executive Vice President, Head of Retail Banking and Wealth Management for HSBC Bank Canada, said: “It is disappointing and concerning to see that there is still such inequality globally between men and women of all ages when it comes to making decisions about saving for retirement. Preparing for retirement is one of the most important aspects of financial planning, and a lack of involvement is leaving women potentially exposed to financial hardship in later life.”

HSBC found that the discrepancy between the sexes in planning for retirement is consistent across all age groups, suggesting that attitudes to this aspect of the family finances are not changing over time.

Research released by HSBC in May this year showed that many women are not prepared for retirement, with just 24 per cent of women in their fifties claiming to have a financial plan in place.

The findings of the survey suggest that many women are aware of the potential risk that this poses, especially among those working part-time, 30 per cent of whom said they think they will not be able to cope financially when they retire. These women are also more likely than any other group (61 per cent) to see good financial planning as extremely important in achieving a happy retirement.

“Women need to be encouraged to play a more active role in financial decision-making,” Willis said. “While it might be practical for one partner to take the lead in research or action, decisions should be discussed and made jointly on a fully informed basis. This will help ensure that families are better prepared for the future and will also ensure women are less financially vulnerable.

“However, it is also important to acknowledge that no two families are the same, and to take into account cultural differences. Financial advice should be flexible and tailored to individual need.”

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