Despite Growing Status as Primary Breadwinner and Household CFO, Women Still Fear Becoming “Bag Lady”

2013 Allianz Life Women, Money & Power Study Reveals both Confidence, Apprehension about Increased Financial Acumen

MINNEAPOLIS–()–Although 60% of women say they are the primary breadwinner in their household and more than half (54%) of respondents describe themselves as the household CFO, nearly half of all women (49%) sometimes fear becoming a “bag lady” with more than a quarter (27%) of those earning more than $200,000 per year sharing that fear, according to the 2013 Women, Money & Power Study* from Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America (Allianz Life).

The study, conducted with more than 2,200 women ages 25-75 with a minimum household income of $30,000 a year, revealed this fear extends to all corners of life and affluence, and was highest among single respondents at 56%, but also a significant concern for divorced women (54%), widows (47%) and married women (43%).

Despite feeling more empowered about financial planning and having more responsibility for financial decisions than ever before, many women believe that empowerment is potentially alienating to both men and other women. Forty-two percent said they believe financially independent women are intimidating to men and often end up alone, while nearly a third (31%) said those women are hard to relate to and often don’t have many friends. This feeling was even higher among single women at 47% and 32%, respectively.

“When Allianz Life conducted the initial wave of the Women, Money & Power Study seven years ago, we discovered that women everywhere – even well-educated, successful, financially independent women – have major gaps and unmet needs when it comes to achieving comfort and confidence with money,” said Allianz Life Vice President of Consumer Insights Katie Libbe. “Today, women clearly feel more invested in financial planning, however, fears of fiscal failure still persist. The real message here is that the financial services industry needs to help women learn about money and prepare for their retirement.”

Age of the Financially Empowered Woman

Despite lingering insecurities, today’s woman feels more empowered about financial planning and is more responsible for financial decisions than ever before. Fifty-seven percent of all women surveyed said they both “have more earning power than ever before” and also “handle major investment decisions and retirement planning.” More than half (55%) noted they take the lead in suggesting new investing or retirement ideas and 60% said they were responsible for handling tax preparation and planning.

Women also believe that today’s woman needs to be much more financially involved and are clear in their understanding that their financial knowledge translates to an improvement in the quality of their lives. More than 90 percent of women surveyed agreed that in today’s world, women need to be significantly more involved in financial planning than in the past, with the highest response (96%) coming from divorced women. Sixty-seven percent of women surveyed said that becoming more knowledgeable and involved in managing their finances has improved the quality of their life, with the highest response (71%) coming from single women.

...many women believe that empowerment is potentially alienating to both men and other women. Forty-two percent said they believe financially independent women are intimidating to men and often end up alone, while nearly a third (31%) said those women are hard to relate to and often don’t have many friends

“Allianz Life is dedicated to the mission of achieving financial literacy and independence for every American, so we’re especially keen to design solutions that are relevant, responsive, and sensitive to helping women accomplish greater financial security,” noted Libbe.

Financial Crisis Drives Behavior Change

The financial crisis of 2008-2009 was a major driver of this behavioral change, with seven in ten (68%) saying they have increased their financial involvement since the crisis, particularly women ages 45-54 (72%) and widows (75%). Yet, despite the increased involvement after 2008, 43% of women surveyed said they don’t feel any smarter about how to manage their money than before the crash. That feeling was shared by 36% of women with the highest income (household income of $200,000+).

This builds on the idea that, in addition to the bag lady concern, a majority of women still have significant concerns about retirement planning and their level of preparedness for retirement. When asked what key issues will have the greatest effect on their retirement outlook, “lack of adequate retirement savings” was the highest ranked issue by 43% of women surveyed, besting other economic concerns such as “the future of Social Security,” “rising health care costs,” “unemployment,” and “tax changes.” Similarly, retirement is also the worry that keeps most women up at night. Second only to loss of spouse/significant other, “running out of money in retirement” is a worry that keeps 57% of women up at night and is the number one worry for single and divorced women.

Additional results from the 2013 Allianz Life Women, Money & Power Study will be released in the coming months, including data on how women prefer to learn about finances, what they look for in a financial professional, the emergence of the “Woman of Influence,” and how changing family dynamics are shifting women’s roles with respect to money and financial planning.

About Allianz Life

Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, one of FORTUNE’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2013, has been keeping its promises since 1896. Today, it carries on that tradition, helping Americans achieve their retirement income and protection goals with a variety of annuities and life insurance products. As a leading provider of fixed index annuities, Allianz Life is part of Allianz SE, a global leader in the financial services industry with 142,000 employees worldwide. More than 78 million private and corporate customers rely on Allianz knowledge, global reach, and capital strength to help them make the most of financial opportunities.