Women not as engaged with superannuation as men, says ASFA

Women are not as engaged with their superannuation as men, on average, according to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA).

A survey of 1,000 Australians conducted by ASFA found that 15% of women knew their exact super balance compared to 25% of men. It is unclear if their actual balances were checked as part of the survey.

The survey also found that nearly 30% of women thought they needed to know more about superannuation. 16% of men were confident about how much they would need saved for retirement, compared to 8% of women. 45% of men and 30% of women said they always read their super fund statement. 25% of men and 10% of women said they have a very good understanding of their super statements.

Though women see superannuation as important – just over half of those surveyed said superannuation was a good way to save for retirement and only 7.5% would be content to have no super and rely only on the age pension.

ASFA CEO Dr Martin Fahy said more than 80% of women are currently retiring with insufficient super to provide a comfortable retirement – seemingly a reference to the ASFA Retirement Standard.

“One in three women are retiring with no super at all and many older women are struggling in retirement,” he said.

According to ASFA the average super balance for women when they retire is $150,000 less than for men, on average – $292,500 for men and $138,150 for women.

“Several factors are contributing to women’s lower super balances including the fact that women take time out of the paid workforce to have children and are more likely to care for family members,” Dr Fahy said. Other factors raised by ASFA include the gender pay gap, insecure employment and longevity risk.

“They are also more likely to be in part time or lower paid employment. Women, on average, earn lower wages compared to their male counterparts and this is then reflected in their super balances,” said Dr Fahy.

“Women also live longer than men so they need more super to survive longer.”

ASFA will continue to push for the Superannuation Guarantee rate to be increased to 12% as soon as possible.

“The current level of superannuation savings do not provide economic security in retirement for a proportion of the Australian population, so any measures to lift superannuation savings overall will increase economic security in retirement for women and men,” Dr Fahy said.

“ASFA also recommends removing the $450-a-month threshold for the SG. We also think the government should enable employers to contribute more to superannuation for women without being considered to have breached anti-discrimination legislation.”

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