Women should be afforded more opportunities for advice in later life, says panel

As part of today’s Equity Release Summit, in a discussion entitled “Navigating gender disparities in retirement: insights for inclusive advice in later life”, a panel of industry experts shared their thoughts regarding the gender gap within the later life market.

According to Catherine Foot, director of Phoenix Insights, the pensions landscape has fundamentally changed over the past few decades, especially for women.

Due to shifting life expectancies and retirement ages, and with women statistically more likely to live longer than their male counterparts, Foot argued that women are “structurally disadvantaged” in the market.

While no less capable, statistically, women are afforded much less education and communication when it comes to financial planning, particularly into their later life.

In addition, with women much more likely to work part-time, with fewer opportunities for career progression, and pensions often overlooked in divorce settlements, Foot said that many women over 50 can be left vulnerable, and worried about their financial situation beyond retirement age.

Caroline Nokes MP, chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, agreed, noting that women are often “too little advised”, with lack of pension funds and lack of financial advice proving to be “a nasty wake up call.”

She urged: “We need to be better at talking to women about their own finances.”

According to research presented by Georgina Callaghan, COO of Standard Life Home Finance, on average, women are much more worried about their future finances than men.

This was backed up by Helen Morrissey, head of retirement analysis at Hargreaves Lansdown, who said that more than two thirds of women reported finding financial jargon off-putting, and it is the historical lack of representation of women within the financial space that is having a “corrosive impact” on women’s confidence within the market.

In order to combat this, Morrissey argued that having female role models within the industry is key, in the hopes of encouraging more women to feel comfortable and represented within the wider later life sector.