Qantas Super urges women take control of super

Women continue to lag behind men significantly when it comes to being prepared for retirement, new research shows.

The Qantas Super CSBA Retirement Confidence Index asked people to rate their confidence in having enough money to retire comfortably out of 10.

They found that overall Australians' confidence they will have enough money for retirement increased slightly from an average of 4.9 out of 10 last year to 5.1 this year.

However, the gender breakdown of these numbers is revealing. Men rated their retirement confidence at an average of 5.4, while women rated there's only an average of 4.8.

Only 30% of women rated their retirement confidence at between 7 and 10, and that gender gap widens even further for younger women. Only 21% of women between the ages of 18 and 29 expressed confidence in their ability to afford a comfortable retirement.

Qantas Super chief executive Michael Clancy said: "We strongly support a national discussion about women and their superannuation and wellbeing in retirement. This is a problem that must be addressed by both the private sector, employers and Government."

Another stark gender gap arose in the survey when respondents were asked whether they knew how much was needed for a comfortable retirement.

Only 29% of women said they knew how much they'd need, compare to 40% of men. Again, younger women scored even lower with only 21% of women under 30 reporting that they knew how much was needed for retirement.

About 72% of women reported being unsure whether they can rely on superannuation and other investments for their retirement. Meanwhile, 40% of men feel confident their investments will prepare them.

Clancy explained: "External factors can impact on retirement outcomes, but having a retirement plan in place that focuses on what you can control or influence is crucial. Retirement planning should be a lifelong undertaking for every Australian."

"For women, it's particularly important to have a strong plan in place that accounts for the different chapters of their working lives."

In response to the results, the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) said action is needed to improve women's retirement outcomes and confidence in their ability to retire comfortably.

ASFA chief executive Martin Fahy said: "These findings highlight deep concerns around the realities of retirement for women and the perception that they will not be able to adequately fund a dignified retirement."

He went on to say the lack of confidence is a reflection of the reality of retirement for many women, whose average super balances at retirement are on average a little over half of what men's are.

Fahy said: "Today, around 50% of women retire with a very low superannuation balance under $50,000, compared with 33% of men. Unless we take active steps to fix this problem, confidence will remain low."

ASFA supports several policies that could address this inequality including paying the superannuation guarantee on paid parental leave and other replacement payments, as it has been shown low super balances for women are associated with time taken off work to raise children.

ASFA also advocates removing the $450 a month threshold for SG and maintaining the low income superannuation tax offset which makes super fairer for those on low incomes.

Finally, it says allowing employers to contribute more for women without being considered to have breached anti-discrimination legislation could be a necessary step.

Read more: ASFAQantas Super CSBA Retirement Confidence IndexMartin FahyMichael ClancyAssociation of Superannuation Funds of Australia
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