By Cyril Tuohy
Insurance agents and financial advisors looking to reach women should simplify the buying process, reduce jargon, spend more time looking after the customer’s interest and maintain high ethical standards, according to a new report.
Despite the seemingly clear directives and women taking more control of household finances, women don’t feel any more prepared to make financial decisions than they did a decade ago, the study by Prudential found.
Lori Fouché, chief executive officer of Prudential Group Insurance, said many women’s confidence about financial planning — as well as the confidence of veteran investors — took a big hit during the economic crisis of 2008. However, she noted that confidence rebounded slightly with the recent performance of the markets.
“But just because women are less worried, doesn’t mean they feel ready to make important, long-term financial decisions,” Fouché said in a news release. “What is more worrisome is they still aren’t seeking help from financial professionals to do so.”
Women said they don’t consult a professional because they don’t have enough assets or they believe the fees are too high, the survey also found.
The biennial study, titled “Financial Experience & Behaviors Among Women,” polled 1,407 American women and 606 American men between the ages of 25 and 68.
It found that 33 percent of women surveyed gave themselves an “A” for managing money and 29 percent gave themselves the top grade for managing debt.
While 75 percent of women surveyed believe that having enough money to maintain their lifestyle in retirement is very important, only 14 percent are very confident they will be able to achieve this — a gap that has remained the same for 10 years.
Only 33 percent of women surveyed believe they are on track or ahead of schedule in planning for retirement, down from 46 percent in 2008, the survey found.
In broad terms, the study shows that women feel relatively confident with the day-to-day aspects of financial management, and the products needed to conduct daily financial transactions like checking and savings accounts.
At the same time, women feel unprepared or underprepared when it comes to long-term planning. Few women understand mutual funds and annuities, the survey found.
“Women are unsure of where to start with financial planning and they say they are unsure of what they need to consider when evaluating options but they are not seeking help,” Fouché said.
Women’s understanding across many planning options -- from life insurance to retirement plans, from individual retirement accounts (IRAs) to stocks and bonds, from estate plans to wills and trusts -- is also lower than in the past, the study found.
Cyril Tuohy is a writer based in Pennsylvania. He has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected].
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