The gender gap is, unfortunately, still alive and very real in workplace financial wellness programs. That’s according to new research conducted by HerMoney Media and Principal Financial Group, which showed gender differences in employees’ overall perception and confidence about money management and investing — even while saving similar amounts.
The 2023 State of Women survey from HerMoney, which included 900 full-time employees of small and midsize businesses with access to either health insurance or a retirement savings plan, found that men and women are saving similar percentages of their annual household income, and are putting money aside in emergency funds at equivalent rates. However, just 45% of female employees compared to 58% of male employees were confident about money management, and just 22% of women considered themselves knowledgeable about investing compared to 46% of men.
Unfortunately, this lack of confidence is something we’ve seen all too often over the years — even from the highest earning women. When Rachel Rogers (who joined us on the HerMoney Podcast) surveyed her community of women who have a median income of $100,000, 90% of them — yes, ninety — said they aren’t confident in making money decisions.
Playing The Long Game
The 2023 State of Women survey also revealed that women are taking a longer-term approach when it comes to their money — with the stock market in particular, they’re playing the long game. The majority of women (55%) would choose to hold their investments in an economic downturn as compared to 40% of men. Similarly, just 16% of women compared to one-third of men (32%) said they would rebalance their portfolio or sell shares during economic downturns. This stability during bumpy investing waters is one of the reasons women have historically seen better returns on their investments than men — women trade less frequently and are willing to ride out market swings, which is a bet that can pay off in a major way. In fact, just missing the 10 best days in the market from January 2003 to December 2022 — seven of which occurred during bear markets — would have cut your returns in half.
“The good news is that women are focused on precisely the right financial threats and aren’t allowing a volatile economy to derail them. In fact, when it comes to making investing decisions, women — who have long had a reputation for being risk-averse — seem to have turned an important corner in their investment decisions,” says Jean Chatzky, CEO of HerMoney.com.
Seeking Education When You Need It
When it comes to financial guidance, 59% of women reported not working with a financial professional (compared to 50% of men), even though 60% of women say they view their financial advisor as their most trusted financial resource. In other words, financial advisors may be under-utilized by women, given the trust and confidence boost they provide.
Yet at the same time, women are besting men when it comes to being proactive about educating themselves about money in other ways. Compared to men, women are using a wider variety of resources to learn about investing, via podcasts (44% of women vs. 27% of men), books (40% vs. 26%), and workplace programs (25% vs.15%).
“While employees’ needs are varied, almost everyone can benefit from more guidance, education, and support to build their financial acumen and confidence,” says Teresa Hassara, senior vice president of workplace savings and retirement solutions at Principal Financial Group. “At Principal ® , we understand individuals have moments in life when they may not feel fully confident in making financial decisions. So, we help employers become more intentional with the workplace solutions they offer — making available a balance of one-on-one, digital, and dedicated advisor interactions for their employees. The more personalized the experience, the more success we believe individuals will have when it comes to achieving long-term financial security and retirement goals.”
Financial Wellness Resources In Action
The survey also focused on how workplace wellness programs are evolving to help employees build a stable financial foundation today — and for the future. When comparing what employees are looking for from these programs — and how they’re using them — once again there was an obvious gender split.
Women (40%) are more likely than men (32%) to say financial wellness feels like “being at peace (without financial stress).” And yet, significantly more men (28%) than women (18%) report a reduction in their own stress levels due to the financial wellness programs at their companies.
Additionally, when asked how various elements of the financial wellness programs offered by their employer are utilized, while both women and men reported awareness and use of resources available to them, men reported stronger results. Men, more than women, credit their employer’s financial wellness programs with helping them increase their emergency savings (25% vs 13%), reduce debt (21% vs 9%), and improve their setting of financial goals (23% vs 15%).
“While it’s heartening to see these programs are helping move the needle in the right direction, these survey results show an imbalance in value, which could be stunting the financial stability of women who need more support tackling the building blocks of personal finance,” Chatzky says. “At the end of the day, companies offer financial wellness programs so their employees can feel just that — financially well. In this area of support, we still have a long way to go.”
- The Gender Pay Gap, Revisited
- How Sallie Krawcheck Is Changing The Money Messages We Send To Women
- No, We Can’t Control Every Aspect Of The Financial Gender Gap, But We Can Take Charge Of These Three Things
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