Women continue to snub pensions as a financial priority, study finds

Just 6% of respondents considered their pension a priority, finds research for Aviva

Women continue to snub pensions in large numbers. Ann O’Keeffe, head of individual life and pensions at Aviva, describes the “largely stagnant” figure for women saving for retirement as “worrying”.

Women continue to snub pensions in large numbers. Ann O’Keeffe, head of individual life and pensions at Aviva, describes the “largely stagnant” figure for women saving for retirement as “worrying”.

 

Women continue to snub pensions despite years of efforts by the financial services industry to persuade them of the need to save for their retirement, according to a new survey.

The study finds that just 6 per cent of women respondents considered their pension a priority. And more that half of the women surveyed said they had never even considered putting one in place.

They are also less welcoming than their male counterparts to the proposal to introduce auto-enrolment, where private sector workers would be automatically signed up to a workplace pension scheme. While 64 per cent of men think it is a good idea, the same is true for only 58 per cent of women.

Only one in three of women questioned was even aware of the Government’s plans to introduce auto-enrolment. The arrangement is due to come into force in three years’ time and was last year the subject of an extensive consultation process. That compares with 43 per cent for male respondents.

Aviva has carried out the study in each of the past five years. Over that time, the number of women with private pensions coverage has remained stubbornly stable at about 37 per cent.

Reasons

The survey of more than 1,000 people by Behaviour & Attitudes on behalf of pension provider Aviva does not delve into the reasons why women are less open to saving for retirement than men.

Ann O’Keeffe, head of individual life and pensions at Aviva, described the “largely stagnant” figure for women saving for retirement as “worrying”.

“While the participation rates for both genders are far too low, the case for women is particularly concerning. Saving for retirement doesn’t appear to be high on people’s agenda.”

The survey results are a blow for the pensions industry which has engaged in several high-profile attempts to make pensions more accessible and easy to understand in recent years.

“We as an industry need to address the reasons that women avoid saving into a pension,” said Ms O’Keeffe. “A key reason is perceived affordability. We need to make sure that women especially realise that even the smallest contribution to their pension is worthwhile, and there is tax relief for doing so which can help.”

Pension coverage

Overall, the Aviva study shows that, if anything, fewer people have pension coverage in place than five years ago (42 per cent compared to 46 per cent in 2014), although the survey notes that this falls within the margin of error for such polls.

The data show that pensions only really come on the radar for people over the age of 35, where the survey found 54 per cent of respondents had cover. This compares with just 30 per cent of those aged between 25 and 34.

Most of this younger cohort (58 per cent) say they simply have never thought about it.

Close to 80 per cent of those without pensions are not confident that they will have sufficient income in retirement.