Women investors are feeling increased retirement anxiety: survey

Women investors have higher levels of unease about retirement, and 40% of survey respondents believing a recession is here

Six in 10 women investors believe that the U.S. is either currently in or approaching a financial crisis, according to the eighth annual “Advisor Authority” survey from Nationwide‘s Nationwide Retirement Institute. In addition, women report having an increase in unease related to retirement, according to the survey results.

Per the report, recession and inflation fears have grown among women investors compared to one year ago, and confidence in a stable retirement has also declined.

“Over 40% of women believe the U.S. is currently in a financial crisis, with another 24% believing that we are approaching one,” the survey report states. “Although a recession may seem likely, expectations regarding its severity vary: slightly more women than men expect a short, shallow recession that begins and eases up gradually, with men nearly 10% more likely to expect a prolonged, severe downturn followed by stagflation and instability (36% vs. 27%).”

Market concerns also feed into the concerns women have about retirement. According to the survey, 45% of women investors say they have a plan to protect their assets from market risks this year, down from 51% one year ago.

“Despite fewer women saying they have a strategy in place for retirement, an increasingly large percentage feel that there is no way to properly prepare for a recession, with nearly nine in ten (87%) women saying they can do all the right things to manage their finances but still be blindsided by outside events, a double-digit increase from 2022 (76%),” the survey report states.

The unease is impacting the financial decisions of women who are not yet retired, with 31% of non-retired women saying they will avoid unnecessary expenses over the next year to save for retirement. Meanwhile, 28% say their investment decisions will be more conservative during that time.

In the past, the reverse mortgage industry has worked to cater to the needs of women in retirement. As previous data has shown, women face disproportionate difficulties in saving for retirement.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) data for 2022 showed that while the largest group of Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) loan borrowers are married couples, single women made up over 35% of the borrowers served last year.

Still, there may be opportunity to do more. Shelley Giordano, a 2021 RMD Changemaker, said that because women face disproportionate challenges in retirement, they could be uniquely served by a reverse mortgage.

“I do wish that our industry would pay more attention to women,” Giordano said in 2021. “I’m not a marketer so I don’t know how to how to do that, but it seems to me that they’re the ones who need to understand how a reverse mortgage works, and how it can help them.”

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