In Focus: Advice for Women  

How to help close the gender pension gap

  • To understand why the pension gap persists.
  • To be able to encourage people to start saving earlier into their pension.
  • To be able to explain why saving small amounts early can bolster pension pots.
How to help close the gender pension gap
Photo: Mart Production via Pexels

There has never been a better opportunity to help women take control of their retirement.

While the gender pay gap is narrowing - down 2 per cent since 2019 - it is still significant, currently standing at 15.5 per cent.

Women earn less than men, are twice as likely to stop or reduce work to care for relatives, according to Carers UK, and are twice as likely to return to work part-time than full time after having a baby, according to a 2019 Understanding Society survey.

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All this not only affects their earning power, but also makes it very difficult to save consistently for retirement. 

As a result, the average pension pot for a 65-year-old woman in the UK is £35,800 – that’s just a fifth of the average 65-year-old man’s, data from the Chartered Insurance Institute's Insuring Women's Futures initiative has stated.

Moreover, recent analysis by pension provider Aegon found that a woman in her 30s who takes two years’ maternity leave and returns to work part-time could miss out on up to £50,000 in retirement savings.

And yet, according to recent research by The People’s Pension, many women say they had not really considered the impact of working part time on their financial well-being in retirement

Given that women live longer than men - approximately four years on average - there are more retirement years for women to fund, but much less money to do it with. So, what can advisers do to help women boost their pension pots and secure a better retirement?

Save earlier

The key thing when it comes to pension savings is to encourage clients to start as soon as possible.

Making pension contributions early enables you to make full use of compound interest meaning that small savings early on can be more important than larger savings down the line.

The 2021 Global Women & Money study by Fidelity found that 34 per cent of women who are not saving into a pension say it is because of lack of funds.

Often this is because they think they need to be making sizeable contributions for it to be worth it, but actually, even if you can only afford to put a little bit aside each month, if you do it early enough, it will make a huge difference.

For example, if you start investing £50 a month at the age of 20 and do that until you are 60, you will have invested £24,000. Assuming an interest rate of 4 per cent, thanks to compound interest, you will have a pension pot of almost £60,000.

But if you do not start saving until you are 40, even if you save double the amount so that the overall investment is the same, your pension pot will only be around £36,000 because it has had less time to build.