Women’s retirement blues

Mica Townsend, Business Development Manager at 10X Investments

If you think the gender gap at your office is bad enough, be warned it is almost certain to get much worse – possibly double – when you and your colleagues retire, warns Mica Townsend, Business Development Manager at 10X Investments.

Townsend was reacting to findings in the disruptive asset manager’s second Retirement Reality Report (RRR19), showing that things were getting worse in South Africa regarding female workers’ preparedness for retirement, especially compared with their male peers.

“The reality is that at retirement things are going to get even worse,” said Townsend. “RRR19 confirms that women in South Africa are following the global trend of saving less for retirement and investing their savings less aggressively, which can only mean that discrepancies between genders will be magnified in retirement,” she added.

10X’s RRR19, released this week, found that 72% of women (up from 64% in 2018) either didn’t have a retirement plan at all or had only a vague plan, compared with 63% of men.

The report analysed data from the annual Brand Atlas survey of economically active South Africans, as determined by Stats SA (namely those with a monthly income in excess of R7,600).

The problem of a widening economic gap as people retire isn’t limited to South Africa, said Townsend, who pointed to a report released by the World Economic Forum in June estimating that the gender pay gap in the developed world, commonly quoted at around 10%-20%, increased to an estimated 30-40% in retirement.

“The situation is dire even before you take into account the fact that women have a longer life expectancy than men,” added Townsend. “We need to do more than play catch up with men when it comes to retirement saving.”