By Cyril Tuohy
When it comes to financial matters and preparing for the future, both men and women admit they have a lot of lost ground to make up, according to the latest findings from the 2013 Planning & Progress Study by Northwestern Mutual.
The study reveals some surprising differences in the investment habits of men and women, but both sexes agree that there’s no substitute for saving – preferably early and often – and that such a strategy was the best financial decision they ever made.
“While the differences in perspectives between men and women are interesting, ultimately our study found that too many people – regardless of gender – ended up in the exact same place: trying to play catch-up,” Greg Oberland, executive vice president of Northwestern Mutual, said in a statement.
The study found that men are more likely than women to say they’re “disciplined” financial planners (37 percent compared to 31 percent), but also that their financial planning needs improvement (66 percent compared to 59 percent).
Men are also more than twice as likely than women – 25 percent compared to 9 percent – to admit that they’ve incurred stock market losses and suffered declines in their retirement savings over the past three years, the survey also found.
The study also reinforced what the industry already knows, which is that men 55 and older are more comfortable with investing in 401(k) products and the stock market, compared with women who are more comfortable with saving early, paying off the mortgage, and securing guarantees either through real estate, life insurance or annuities.
Many other studies have shown that as a group, Americans feel unprepared for retirement, particularly in the wake of the Great Recession. Men, however, feel more financially secure than women, according to Northwestern Mutual’s survey of 1,546 Americans age 25 or older.
The survey, conducted in January at a time when the real estate market was solidly on the rebound, found 47 percent of men feeling financially secure, compared with 40 percent of women. A total of one in six men – 60 percent – also said they are financially prepared to live to age 75 compared to 53 percent of women, the survey found.
In 2011, average life expectancy at birth in the U.S. was 76 years for men and 81 years for women, according to USA Life Expectancy.
Cyril Tuohy is a writer based in Pennsylvania. He has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. He can be reached at [email protected].
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