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Two years on, are we moving the dial for women's super?

Superannuation  |  20/06/2017  |   2 min read

A few years ago, we launched a ground-breaking online tool, which allowed members to compare their super savings with other fund members of similar age.

Through our 'Move the Dial' campaign, this simple tool aimed to make women aware of the size of the retirement savings challenge they faced compared to men and to consider ways of taking more control over their financial future.

Thanks to our compulsory employer contributions system, there is no doubt that the gender pay gap is a primary driver of what is commonly referred to as super's 'gender savings gap'. Thankfully, there are signs that more women are taking action to address this issue.

Digital financial advice company, Decimal, released a report in this month that said an increasing proportion of women were seeking financial advice to help make the most of their super. It said that 43% of women of the membership of its super fund clients have sought financial advice, up from 36% only six months ago. 

In light of this, we thought this was a good time to explore whether increased awareness from our 'Move the Dial' campaign launched in 2015 had prompted actions among Equip's female members that had improved their super savings relative to male members.

The graph below shows the status of women's savings compared to men's in Equip for June 2017 versus June 2015, the year in which we launched Move the Dial. To help you understand the graph, the green line shows that, for women aged between 20 and 29, the average Equip account balance in 2017 is 81% of the average balance for men of a similar age.

 

Female-v-Male-Balances-2017v2015.jpg

 

The results are encouraging for those closer to retirement. Equip women in mid-career and in pre-retirement phases, those closer to drawing an income from their super, have generally improved their relative position. However, a little of the gloss has worn off for women between age 20 and 39.

We have no real evidence to explain the slight fall off in the super savings comparison for younger women. The 2015 data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that the average age of women giving birth to a first child has crept up to just over 31.

This suggests that taking career breaks for child nurturing is a less likely influencer of savings for women aged under 29 than we might intuitively assume. This is the group for which our data shows an almost precipitous decline in relative savings compared to the under-19 female demographic's almost crazy outperformance of their male counterparts.

One possibility could be the increasing proportion of women relative to men who are completing tertiary degrees, which may be delaying their entry into the full-time workforce. Or perhaps they are showing a greater propensity to 'go it alone' with a entrepreneurial portfolio career or self-employment, meaning super contributions are less consistent?

Whatever the reason, early contributions are important for everyone, as it puts more money to work to produce more investment earnings over more years.

Our Move the Dial tool is still available online if you want to try it, or haven't visited it for a while. Just click here to type in your account balance and age for an instant result, noting that the comparison is for balances held by Equip members, not the general population.

 

Check your retirement income with the Equip calculator