The New York Times reports that several financial institutions, including Fidelity, which provides employer-based retirement accounts for more than 13 million workers, along with other retirement plan providers, have begun tailoring their messages for specific employees based on demographic data.  It state the following, among other things, focusing on the way that Fidelity now often interacts with women:

“What we are seeing is a big uptick in the number of organizations that are thinking more broadly about financial wellness and understanding it’s not a one-size-fits-all plan that will get results,” said Betsy Dill, a partner at Mercer, the consulting firm. “They have to think about how to segment and microtarget their work force at different points along the way.”

There are a lot of headlines about how women aren’t as comfortable with money as their male counterparts, but the research is mixed. The financial services industry conducts plenty of self-serving surveys reinforcing stereotypes, but they’re trying to capture women’s business: More women are their household’s primary breadwinner, and they control trillions of dollars.

And among women with access to retirement plans? They are doing just fine when compared with their male counterparts, raising questions about whether any special handling is warranted. In fact, some research has found that certain differences in behavior are hinged less to gender and more to socioeconomic status.

Not that women don’t face real financial challenges: They tend to earn less than men, take longer breaks from the work force or work part time, and they live longer (and thus are more likely to need long-term care). So the often-repeated numbers declaring that the average working man’s 401(k) account balance (about $121,000) is more than 50 percent higher, on average, than a woman’s ($78,000), as calculated by Vanguard, isn’t that surprising. It’s largely because the average wage for male savers in Vanguard plans, at $107,000, is about 40 percent higher than the average for female savers.

Read full article at Financial Advice by the Demographics – NYTimes.com.

 

Posted by Lewis J. Saret, Co-General Editor, Wealth Strategies Journal.