You’ve no doubt heard about the gender pay gap; some companies even now report on the pay disparity between the men and women in their organisation, to be transparent about their attempts to promote equality. But what about the pension gap?
You might be shocked to learn that while the gender pay gap is closing, our latest Women and Money research* shows there's still a massive 40.3% difference between the pension savings of men and women. This is likely to mean that women’s financial futures are less secure, and could be at a greater risk of struggling with the cost of living in their later years rather than enjoying their well-earned retirement.
Confidence about pension contributions is also much lower among women. Our research shows that 43% of men felt confident about their ability to make pension contributions vs 31% of women. And 43% of men feel confident when it comes to their level of contributions into a pension compared to just 27% of women.*
The cost-of-living crisis isn’t helping, as many people are nervous about unexpected expenses in retirement. Our research showed that a third of women were not confident in their ability to afford unexpected expenses in retirement (compared to just a fifth of men). This is leading to women reducing their expenses and working longer at a higher rate than men.
So what can we women do to increase their confidence and help close the pension pay gap?
Well, first of all, let’s reframe that question, because the number one action is something that both women and men can do: actively work towards pay equality. As a percentage of our salaries tend to go into our pensions, what we get paid directly impacts our retirement pot; if women are getting paid less, their pensions will naturally end up smaller.
Secondly, know how much you have saved. Knowledge is always power when it comes to finances, and although there are multiple temptations to stick our heads in the ground (retirement is far away/retirement is too close now/it’s too soon/it’s too late/I can’t do anything anyway), you have to know where you’re starting to work out where you’re going. You can quickly check and manage your pension savings by logging into PlanViewer (and if you want to make it easier to view your pension on the go, think about downloading our PlanViewer app).
Pre-empt the pension gap. Now that you know that the pension gap exists, you can pre-empt it by finding ways to build up your pension as early as possible. You can be aware of any potential future career breaks and gaps in your pension and think about how you can make extra contributions to minimise the effects later on. Paying in more sooner rather than later also means you could end up with a larger pot overall as the money has more time to grow, and for that growth to be invested too. Remember though, the value of your pension and any income from it can go down as well as up, so you may get back less than you invest.
Retrospectively close the gap. If you’re in a position where you have taken time out of your career, perhaps to look after children or elderly parents, you may already be able to see that the impact this has had on your pension savings. Can you increase your level of contributions? Are you taking advantage of all the money your company will contribute? Are you able to make one-off contributions to make up any shortfall? You’ll be able to find some of this information from your employer, on PlanViewer or from an independent financial adviser.
Look after future-you. We understand that the increased cost of living is affecting lots of people. It can be hard to prioritise money for a hypothetical future when you really need it to make ends meet today. All we can say is that the future will arrive, and any small amount you can tuck away into your pension today could make a big difference tomorrow.
Important information - this is for information purposes only and the views contained are not to be taken as advice or a recommendation for any product, service or course of action. You cannot normally access your pension savings until age 55. This is due rise to 57 in 2028.
*Source: Women and Money Research was conducted by Opinium Research commissioned by Fidelity International. The survey is based on a nationally representative sample of 2,000 UK adults. Fieldwork ran from 15th to 20th December 2022.