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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Men have pension pots three times bigger than women

Two years on since pension freedoms were introduced in the UK, men have an average of £73,600 saved, while women have just £24,900, according to a research by Aegon.

Difference in pension saving is "stark" ©iStock

This is thought to be largely owing to the time women often take away from work in order to raise children, as well as the ongoing gender pay gap, which is estimated to exist until 2041 if historical trends continue.

However, despite saving less than men, women have significantly increased their average pension pot from the £16,700 recorded in 2015, thanks to initiatives such as workplace auto-enrolment.

“It can’t go unnoticed that women have made some encouraging steps forward in saving for retirement,” Aegon head of pensions, Kate Smith, said. “However, the difference between men’s and women’s pension savings is stark.

“Auto-enrolment has successfully introduced 7.6million people to workplace pensions, but the gender pay gap, which is currently 13.9%, means that men are effectively saving more without even thinking about it.

“Women often face a more disrupted savings journey due to maternity leave and working part-time, juggling a career and children, so it’s crucial that they actively engage with their pension savings.”

It is this level of engagement where women are falling down in comparison to their male counterparts, according to the research, with just 19% having checked or amended their pension plans in the last six months, compared with 24% of men.

In addition, 42% of females have never reviewed or taken any action that affects their plans for retirement, while 35% have no idea how much they have saved in their pension.

This lack of knowledge regarding savings was attributed to not understanding the information provided by 27% of the women studied, with 13% citing a lack of online services, while 11% simply avoid checking out of fear or seeing how little they have saved.

“Burying heads in the sand is simply not an option,” Smith continued. “Knowledge is power after all, and the more they do now to build up their pension knowledge, the better their retirement will be.

“The pension dashboard, due to be introduced in 2019, where people will be able to see all their pensions in one place should help to spark more interest in pensions. But women shouldn’t wait two years before taking any action.

“Both the industry and employers have an important role to play in making pensions more accessible for women right now, be that through providing online tools, supporting those who want to review their pension savings during working hours, or encouraging engagement with professional advisers.”

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