For Financial & Retirement Planning Knowledge, Women Want More

Study Reveals Financial Industry Not Meeting Women’s Needs

MINNEAPOLIS–()–More than six in ten women (62%) said they have an interest in learning about financial planning, retirement planning and investing according to the 2013 Women, Money & Power Study* from Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America (Allianz Life), nearly double the amount (35%) who indicated interest in these topics during the original study conducted in 2006. However, despite innovations within the financial services industry, 70% of all women said they believe financial information is hard to understand, up significantly from the 44% who felt that way during the initial Women, Money & Power Study.

The 2013 study, conducted with more than 2,000 women ages 25-75 with a minimum household income of $30,000 a year, also found that 68% of women felt financial planning materials are dull and boring. Additionally, 54% said financial material “seems like it’s in a foreign language,” and a full 40% said that none of the information is “applicable or useful.”

Surprisingly, despite indications that women want to learn and want help translating financial material, 69% of women do not see their financial professional as a “go to” source for information about how to save, spend and invest. In fact, only 38% of women noted they had a financial professional. Of those who had a financial professional, more than a third (38%) said their financial professional is “not very responsive” or “doesn’t seem all that interested in my personal situation” (40%).

“It’s definitely concerning that the financial services industry doesn’t seem to have learned much in the last seven years about customizing solutions to female clients,” said Allianz Life Vice President of Consumer Insights Katie Libbe. “Women are in more financial control than ever before, and regardless of their high level of interest in learning about financial topics, the information and planning resources made available aren’t doing enough to change negative perceptions about the industry.”

Retirement Planning: Whom to Trust?

According to the 2013 Women, Money & Power Study, today’s women feel more empowered about financial planning and are more responsible for financial decisions than ever before. More than 90% of women said they feel that they need to be significantly more involved in financial planning than in the past. They also report that they are equally responsible for major investment decisions and retirement planning in their household (57%).

Although negative perceptions about the financial services industry remain strong, many women do see the value in having a financial professional to help guide them. In the study:

  • 77% of women who reported they have a financial professional said they were more confident and prepared for their financial future,
  • 75% of respondents recommend having a financial professional to other women,
  • 75% of women feel they earn better returns on their money with a financial professional, and
  • 72% of women felt more self-sufficient having a financial professional.
Women are in more financial control than ever before, and regardless of their high level of interest in learning about financial topics, the information and planning resources made available aren’t doing enough to change negative perceptions about the industry

“It’s clear that working with a trusted financial professional who understands women’s unique perspective on financial topics is something many women are seeking,” adds Libbe. “Allianz Life is committed to helping financial professionals gain a better understanding of what women want in financial planning and be more responsive in creating customizable solutions.”

Women also noted the importance of feeling engaged and having the ability to learn in a non-intimidating environment with other women. Yet, despite a desire to connect, the Internet was cited as the most popular source for financial information (54%), with financial professionals coming in at 39%.

Most Wanted: Retirement Lifestyle

The top financial topic that women said they most want to learn about – attaining a retirement lifestyle – is not likely the top focus for many financial professionals. Women are asking for clear and simple-to-understand financial information that is available on the Internet.

The vast majority of women surveyed noted they are more concerned about attaining a retirement lifestyle than gaining specific investment guidance. Eighty-five percent of participants want to learn how to achieve their desired lifestyle in retirement while an equal number want guidance on how they could guarantee income for life. Seventy-five percent want to know how to invest and plan for retirement with a modest income and 67% are interested in the basics of “buying smart” (where to save, managing a budget, etc.) Getting guidance about the stock market was the least interesting to women, with only 58% finding the topic appealing.

In addition to highlighting the most popular retirement topics among women, respondents also provided feedback about the perfect ways to learn about financial information. They asked for financial information to be clear, simple and easy to understand, with affordability and convenience ranking as the second and third most important characteristics.

The 2013 Allianz Life Women, Money & Power Study results previously highlighted women’s perceptions, goals, and fears when it comes to their finances. In upcoming releases, insights will reveal how the modern family structure is influencing women’s role in money management and the emergence of the “Woman of Influence.”

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.