Women appear less financially confident than men, despite having a keen interest in finances, new QSuper data reveals.

Why women lag behind in financial confidence

Q Super
9th May 2018 12:00 AM

News Corp has teamed up with QSuper to explore the differences in financial fitness between Queensland's men and women. 

QUEENSLAND'S women are showing keen interest in their financial situation but their financial fitness results might be leaving them feeling flat.

Data gathered by one of Australia's largest superannuation funds, QSuper, showed almost twice as many women as men took the time to test their financial fitness in a recent Wealth iQ mobile check.

Designed to improve self-awareness around money matters, the Wealth iQ mobile check poses simple questions about everyday finances, managing loans, retirement planning and insurance and protection.

The results found men felt financially fitter than women, scoring an average of 78.6 per cent on the check as opposed to 74.8 per cent.

Women aged 40 to 49 were the least confident about their financial position, scoring an average 73.1 per cent, followed by those aged 30 to 39 with an average score of 74 per cent.

Independent financial commentator and educator, Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon said the results were not that surprising given the situation facing many Australian women. 

"Reading between the lines, I would say this is squarely a result of not being prepared for the longer-term future, and women having lower superannuation balances because of career breaks to care not just for children but increasingly parents as well," Ms Pedersen-McKinnon said.

"Don't forget that, according to Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, women are still retiring with about 60 per cent of the superannuation funds of men. That's an average balance of $157,050 versus $270,710 for men.

"I think they're becoming acutely aware that's going to be a problem for them - especially when you consider women live an average of three years longer than men."

She said on top of that, women earned an average 16 per cent less than men across all industries.

"It all sounds a bit bleak but there are things women can do to boost their superannuation and the earlier they start, the easier it is," Ms Pedersen-McKinnon said.

Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) statistics show women, on average, retire with about $110,000 less than men.
Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) statistics show women, on average, retire with about $110,000 less than men. Stock

She suggested salary sacrifice as a savings strategy that can be tax effective, and that women could potentially aim to put an additional one or two per cent of their earnings into superannuation via salary sacrifice. 

"I think it's important to realise that two per cent is really tiny but that one teeny tiny thing could make a massive difference to the last 20 or 30 years of our lives.

"It could be worth going through that little bit of pain along the way to make sure at the end you can enjoy a more comfortable lifestyle."

Ms Pederson-McKinnon said other measures recommended for women on low or middle-incomes was to make an annual after-tax superannuation"top up" of $1000 to potentially earn up to $500 in co-contribution from the federal government, as well as a search of "lost super".

"There's $18 billion in superannuation that Australians have collectively lost track of, but you can search for it at the Australian Taxation Office's myGov system," she said.

"It's just a really simple check and the average balance is actually $3000 that you could collect from that."

She said people with money in a number of super funds could even consolidate them into one fund on the site.

"The ATO's myGov makes it really easy. You literally see a list and then you choose the fund that you want and then they basically do the rest for you," Ms Pedersen-McKinnon said.

Feeling anxious about future finances was not the sole domain of women, with a recent QSuper Financial Wellbeing Survey finding 36 per cent of Australians believed they would have to keep working past the age of retirement.

Salary sacrifice is one way women can boost their nest egg, plus an annual
Salary sacrifice is one way women can boost their nest egg, plus an annual "top up" of $1000 which can lead to a co-contribution from the government. Stock

The independent online survey of 1000 people, conducted by Colmar Brunton on behalf of QSuper, also revealed funding retirement was one of the top five financial concerns, and 43 per cent believed their superannuation was not on track to maintain their standard of living.

Ms Pedersen-McKinnon said it was worth making sure your superannuation fund was the best one for you.

"What you really want are reasonable fees and also decent annual average returns," she said.

"If you're in a substandard fund it could cost you a lot by the time you reach retirement."

Established more than 100-years ago, QSuper now manages more than $70 billion in retirement savings for over 565,000 members.

More than two-thirds of those members are women, and QSuper is dedicated to providing them with access to financial education, information and advice to improve their financial wellbeing.  

Non-identified data sourced from 3000 people completing the Wealth iQ mobile check between March 1 and April 4, 2018.

To discover your financial fitness, take QSuper's Wealth iQ mobile check