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Good pension planning important for female of the species

17 March 2008 / by Rachael Stiles
Women face a potential deficit between their cost of living in retirement and their pensions, so they should make pension planning a priority, urges NFU Mutual.

Females face a number of challenges particular to their gender, such as taking extended career breaks to have children, having a longer life expectancy than men, and typically not practicing such good planning for their retirement, putting them at risk in the future.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that men are more prepared when the time comes to retire; in 2002, for those aged between 50-54, the average value of a man's pension was £116,000, but for women it was only £60,000.

Shelagh Hamer, pensions specialist at NFU Mutual, comments: "The impacts of increased life expectancy and the raising of the State Pension Age are likely to be particularly felt by women.

"This is because women on average not only have smaller pensions savings than men, an issue often compounded by career breaks, but their higher life expectancy means that their smaller funds have to last longer."

Pensions aren't the only way to prepare for retirement, Ms Hamer continues. There are a number of other measures which women can take, such as equity release, and savings plans such as a tax-efficient ISA.

Unfortunately, she said, divorce is also a reality for many people, and that after owning a home, pension assets are the most valuable asset a couple has, so women should ensure they are prepared for all eventualities.

"Really the solution is simple: women should take full advantage of the tax relief on offer to build up a decent pension to provide through what will hopefully be a long retirement."

The major priorities for people heading into retirement are keeping their home and maintaining they quality of life, according to research from Lincoln Financial Group, but having the sufficient funds in order to do so is causes them a great deal of concern.

Subsequently, Lincoln is encouraging retirement savers to focus on flexibility and security, urging them to "take advantage of pension products which offer the combination of being able to remain invested in the stock market whilst providing guarantee options."

Lincoln found that other priorities of those heading into retirement include maintaining their independence, having an enjoyable retirement, having access to good quality nursing care, and living out their last days at home.

Ms Hamer concluded: "Don’t put off pension planning. By starting to fund a pension early, you have a much better chance of building up a sizeable fund for your retirement. Also, regularly review your arrangements to make sure they are in tune with any changes in your career and lifestyle."

© Fair Investment Company Ltd