Despite efforts to progress in the battle of the sexes, there’s still a significant gender pay gap in the Australian workforce. Business managers in this country are roughly twice as likely to be men rather than women, while a 2020 study found a 14 per cent inequity in average earnings between men and women in full-time work – equating to a difference in pay of $253.60 per week.
There’s clearly still a lot of work to be done in the interests of workplace gender equality – and while that work is underway, it remains vital for women to pay attention to their own financial security in retirement.
Many Australians don’t realise that their superannuation constitutes one of their biggest assets after their house and car. This lack of awareness can often lead them to overlook the fact that conscious and unconscious discrimination against women in hiring and pay decisions eventually results in women accumulating less retirement savings than men, causing many women to spend their post-work years dependent on social services support or living in poverty.
Currently, just 10 per cent of Australian women retire with enough savings to fund a comfortable lifestyle. When it comes to life after work, women generally retire earlier and live longer, making it essential for them to have enough money to last the distance. “Today, women are predicted to retire with an average of $283,141 less than men¹”, says Deborah Potts, group executive of employer & industry engagement for Rest Superannuation.
Since the start of the Early Release Scheme in March through to December last year, Rest assisted more than 336,000 members in withdrawing funds from their superannuation account. While the withdrawal by women was on average lower than that of men’s, the dent that it left in their superannuation balance was significantly deeper, further widening the retirement gender gap. For women in their 30s, that gap grew by 6.7 points; women in their 40s 6 points; and women in their 50s by 5.4points.
“Throughout their professional life, women have less opportunity to increase their personal savings, because they generally have increased career breaks, taking time to care for children. In therefore undergoing long durations of part-time or casual working arrangements, this significantly impacts their income, meaning less money today and into the future – and this causes women to have a lack of opportunity to build upon their wealth and super,” explains Deborah.
Rest’s 2017 Making a Break survey found that women are 30 per cent less likely than their male counterparts to financially plan for their career breaks, despite the fact that upon returning to work they may earn up to 29 per cent less.
Even so, thanks to easy access to digital finance advice as part of their super, today’s superwomen are powering up their finances for a post-pandemic recovery. “There has been a huge uptake in the number of women supercharging their financial recovery by taking advantage of Rest’s financial advice offerings, provided as part of their membership,” says Deborah.
With Covid-19 increasing the awareness of super and financial advice across the Australian community, post-pandemic women have been leading the charge to access digital financial advice. In the 2019/2020 financial year, Rest saw a surge in financial advice uptake by members across the board. More specifically, 57.5 per cent of advice interactions in that financial year were from female members.
“We believe all Australians should have access to advice, no matter what their financial circumstances are,” explains Deborah.
”Talking to a financial expert allows us to better understand our personal financial situation. We offer financial advice to all members, usually at no extra cost, as well as a range of innovative digital tools and education programs tailored to help women understand more about their super. It’s our mission to make all of our members feel confident in super, so they can enjoy the retirement they deserve.”
“Living in today’s digitally geared society, technology is one of the most important ways we can simplify super for our members,” says Deborah. “Offering this advice digitally allows us to provide this to members at scale, and it allows members to take control of their super whenever and wherever it suits.”
This is especially the case with so many more people facing financial insecurity thanks to current economic conditions. Given the structural changes to the advice market, there is a very real concern that advice will become inaccessible to lower- and middle-income Australians. The need for quality financial tools and resources has never been more important.
Those interested in Rest’s educational programmes and Learning Centre online can find out more by browsing https://rest.com.au/tools-advice/learning-centre or talking to a Rest representative today.
¹Rest 2017 Making a break survey.
Issued by Retail Employees Superannuation Pty Limited as trustee of the Retail Employees Superannuation Trust (Rest). Consider if the information provided is appropriate for you and read the PDS available at https://rest.com.au/pds before deciding to join or stay.
Rest’s financial advice is provided by Rest Advisers as authorised representatives of Link Advice Pty Limited, AFS Licence 258145 ABN 36 105 811 836. Rest Online Advice is provided by Link Advice Pty Limited ABN 36 105 811 836 AFSL 258145.