Radnor, Pa., March 8, 2021 – One-third of women say they are struggling to make ends meet, according to new research from Lincoln Financial Group. The company’s January 2021 Consumer Sentiment Tracker found that while men are more focused on financial issues like the impact of taxes, stock market volatility and long-term-care expenses, women report the pandemic has resulted in a greater focus on their day-to-day finances (71%) rather than planning for the future.
Mastering The Financial Balancing Act
The events of the last year have caused a change in mindset for all Americans. However, the Lincoln study found the COVID-19 crisis has hit women harder financially with more frequent job impacts than men (35% vs. 28%), driving their top concerns of covering day-to-day expenses (34%) and a lack of emergency savings (45%). As men are taking on more strategic long-term financial actions like meeting with a financial advisor, women are enduring financial hardships in order to make necessary and immediate financial decisions. They are delaying major purchases like cars and homes (24%) and drawing from their emergency funds (21%).
“The research demonstrates that the pandemic has accentuated the gender income gap,” said Kristen Phillips, senior vice president, Corporate Marketing, Communications and Strategy. “Millions of women left the workforce in the last year not only due to job loss, but because of caregiving responsibilities at home. As a result, many are living paycheck-to-paycheck with minimal savings, unsure of how to prioritize retirement and their long-term financial outlook too. As an industry, we have an opportunity to help provide women with the tools and knowledge that will enable them to create more positive outcomes.”
Strengthening Financial Confidence
One area where women could use a boost is feeling more empowered about their financial future. Lincoln’s research found that women are more than twice as likely to be unfamiliar with financial planning and investments than men, who are increasingly reading and learning about financial markets and investing. Men are also currently working with a financial professional in greater numbers than women (42% vs. 26%). The WISE Group (Women Inspiring, Supporting and Education) has been striving to better support the unique needs of female financial advisors and their clients since it was formed by Lincoln Financial Network—the retail wealth management affiliate of Lincoln Financial Group—in 2015. Anita Grossman, president and founder of Grossman Financial Planning Group and a representative of Lincoln Financial Advisors, is a WISE member.
“It’s so important for women to feel confident in making financial decisions – that’s why one of our top objectives at The WISE Group is educating female clients on the importance of comprehensive financial planning, so they are better prepared to take charge of their financial lives,” said Grossman. “Women tend to approach personal finance a little differently, which is why we develop educational materials specifically for women, as well as make them available to our male counterparts. We are committed to ensuring all our advisors have the resources to best serve the wider female marketplace.”
Helping Women Take Action
While there is still more to be done to close the financial gender gap, the good news is that 70% of women want to better protect themselves and their families financially. As part of Lincoln’s ongoing effort to raise financial awareness among women, Grossman recommends these three tips to help achieve that goal:
- Create a financial plan. Consider hiring a financial advisor who specializes in financial planning or maximize online budgeting tools, calculators and other resources to get an accurate financial snapshot. Be sure to put goals in writing. Leverage any employer-sponsored financial wellness programs to create a personalized action plan that addresses issues like building an emergency fund and paying down debt. Tap into employer-sponsored benefits including voluntary solutions like accident and critical illness insurance, as well as retirement plans. Women have longer life expectancies than men. Plan for that longevity. Save more for retirement now to fund extra years of retirement later.
2. Take financial ownership. Review retirement and other account balances to determine areas of progress and any parts needing improvement. Make a plan to fill any gaps and determine income projections. Women should initiate regular conversations with loved ones to discuss retirement and their financial future. Tap into educational materials and conduct online research to proactively understand the benefits of various financial products and solutions.
3. Meet with a financial professional. Women, as well as men, benefit from personalized guidance. A financial advisor can help women take a holistic view of their finances, from the accumulation period to and through the distribution phase, while considering asset protection strategies. They can help women think through “what-if scenarios” because life can bring unexpected situations.
“Female advisors have the power to motivate and support each other, then share that contagious empowerment with the women who seek our advice and guidance,” said Grossman. “It is so rewarding to watch our female clients light up when they experience the positive outcomes resulting from their financial vision.”