More than half of women who delayed or canceled their retirement plans due to the Covid crisis said the decision affected their mental health, according to a survey by the National Retirement Institute.
The survey of participants and sponsors in an employer-sponsored retirement plan found that many women experience negative feelings when considering the status of their current retirement plan, and even more so for women who have delayed or stopped contributing to their retirement plans. 45% indicated they were anxious, 54% said they were frustrated and 16% panicked.
Moreover, one in five women feel they are on the wrong track to retire, and the same expect to retire later than originally planned, according to the survey.
“The same trends we see around the stress and mental impact that this environment places on women globally also appear in microcosm of how [women] “She’s thinking about her retirement finances,” said Amelia Dunlap, Vice President, Marketing of Retirement Solutions at Nationwide. “This has an impact on their confidence about retirement,” she said.
But Dunlap said women, as the survey found, are interested in taking action to reach their retirement goal. Most plan sponsors (66%) since the pandemic have said they have noticed that women are more likely than men to make changes to their retirement plans. Among those who expect to delay or cancel their retirement plans, 67% indicated that they had changed their overall approach to saving for retirement.
Dunlap said women are taking steps to create an emergency fund and savings. They also make investment changes in their contributions and care about what their contributions are doing. She said Nationwide is invested in working with plan sponsors “on how to provide options not only to help with that buildup or saving for retirement but also in the form of options that can provide guarantees and lifetime income.”
Women are also interested in exploring solutions that can help them reach their goals. The survey found that nearly half (48%) showed more interest in a life-guaranteed income investment option in the plan, more than any other option provided to them. It also found that more than a third (35%) would be more likely to roll their retirement savings into one if given the opportunity.
The survey found that the biggest barrier for women not contributing to a guaranteed lifetime investment option is a lack of knowledge. Dunlap noted that the need for education is not gender-specific.
Dunlap noted that the survey also highlighted men and women’s mental feelings about confidence in retirement and “there is a lot to be said here about the mental burden this places on women from all angles,” she said. “So we really encourage consultants and planning sponsors to think about this audience in a very unique way given the additional pressure that is being put on them,” she said.
Dunlap said she would also encourage counselors to have a conversation with their plan sponsors about retirement confidence for their employees, not just to retire but live in retirement, she said.