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April 26, 2011 04:00 ET

BMO Retirement Institute Report: Despite the Challenges They Face, Women Are More Likely to Enjoy Their Retirement Than Men

However, the ladies can still learn a thing or two from the guys...

- Women better equipped to cope with transition from the workforce to retirement

- Women have lower expectations than men regarding the amount needed for retirement

- More men (61 per cent) than women (52 per cent) have a financial plan(1)

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 26, 2011) - Despite being less financially prepared for retirement, a new report launched by the BMO Retirement Institute indicates that, once retired, women are more likely to enjoy their retirement than men.

The report, titled DivergentPaths To Retirement: How Men And Women Plan Differently, explores the behavioural differences exhibited by women and men and how it impacts their efforts to plan for retirement.

Women Face A Variety of Obstacles

According to the report, women have traditionally faced unique challenges when planning for retirement that often result in a lower level of financial preparedness when compared to men.

These include:

  • Lower earnings – It is estimated that women earn just 83 cents for every dollar earned by men.(2) They therefore tend to accumulate a smaller retirement nest egg.
  • Intermittent work histories – Women are more likely to interrupt their employment to act as family caregiver.
  • Women are living longer – Women are expected to live, on average, three years longer than men, putting a higher demand on household resources for basic living expenses and the need to pay for healthcare needs and long-term care.
  • Widowhood or divorce – Forty per cent of women will divorce before their 30th wedding anniversary(3), and the average age of widowhood for women in Canada is 56(4). Both scenarios can lead to financial set-backs.

"Despite the challenges that women face, we are seeing that they are actually more likely than men to enjoy their retirement. We also see evidence that they become happier as they grow older," said Tina Di Vito, Head, BMO Retirement Institute. "Men and women have noticeable differences in how they respond to both financial and non-financial changes brought on by retirement, and women are proving that they have adapted the necessary skill set to help them cope."

According to the report, women are succeeding for a number of reasons:

  • Seeking advice – Women are more likely than men (36 per cent versus 30 per cent)(5) to admit they need help with retirement planning. This often helps women avoid costly mistakes and allows them to stretch their savings.
  • Selecting an advisor – When selecting a financial advisor, women look for honesty and listening skills and seek advice that is tailored to their unique situation. By contrast, men tend to seek out advisors who offer the best fees and a broad range of products.
  • Knowing your identity – Historically, men's identities have been very closely tied to their work. Once they stop working, however, they may not have found anything to replace work with, often resulting in depression and anxiety. Alternatively, women's life experiences tend to prepare them better for retirement because their identities are still very closely tied to the relationships they built outside their jobs.

How Women Can Learn From Men

The report also examines the various lessons women can learn from men when it comes to planning for retirement:

  • Men are more likely than women to have investments(6) and a financial plan (61 versus 52 per cent)(7).
  • They also tend to be more financially engaged and confident when it comes to financial planning, as well as being more open to taking risks.

"While there are clear differences between men and women when it comes to retirement planning, by adopting each other's positive characteristics they both stand a better chance of planning for and enjoying a successful retirement."

To view a copy of the full report, please visit www.bmo.com/retirementinstitute.

(1), (7)BMO RSP Survey, Harris Decima, December 2010
(2)The Daily, Study: Why has the gender wage gap narrowed? Statistics Canada, December 20, 2010
(3)The Daily, Divorces, Statistics Canada, Wednesday March 9 2005
(4)Women in Canada: A Gender-based statistical report, Statistics Canada, 2000
(5)BMO Retirement Planning and Saving Survey (Behavioural), The Strategic Counsel, June 2010
(6)2010 CSA Survey on Retirement and Investing, Ipsos Reid, August 2010

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