Women Are Controlling the Purse Strings—So Why Aren’t They Confident?

[A version of this article appeared on LinkedIn]

It’s not surprising that we in the life insurance industry think a lot about financial security. But this week, as I gear up to speak at two events regarding women and financial security, I’ve been reviewing some surprising numbers about women, money, and confidence.

Women have made enormous strides in the labor force and contribute $7.6 trillion annually to the nation’s GDP. If American working women took a day off, it would cost almost $21 billion in GDP.

We should be proud of our contributions. We should also be confident about our financial health, but not enough of us are. In research initiated by ACLI, 73% of working women are engaged in managing their long-term finances, but only 57% of women feel confident about their personal finance, savings, and investments.

I want that to be 100%. But women face major hurdles.

The first? Pay gap. It’s still more valley than gully. On average, women make 85% of what men do. Yet because we live longer, we’re likely to need more money in retirement.

Then there’s leaving the workforce. Women are more likely to take time off to care for a child or a sick family member. Women who step away will lose over $300,000 in wages, social security benefits, and retirement plans. That is shocking.

Confidence levels need to rise because 95% of women are the financial decision-makers in their families. Women don’t just have a seat at the table, they’re buying the table.

How can we get there? Women need to talk more about retirement security. Then we need to become more financially literate. Professionals can help us. And hopefully more financial professionals will be women.

I’ll discuss all of this at the Engage Summit and the Women and Diversity in Insurance Conference. At Engage, I’ll talk with Jean Chatzky (HerMoney Podcast) about solutions to help women gain more confidence about retirement security.

At the latter, I’ll join Jill Judd (State Farm), Salene Hitchcock-Gear (Prudential Financial), and Catherine Hernandez-Blades (AFLAC) to examine the changing financial landscape and why diversity in our industry is critical. Follow along on Twitter with #WDIC2020 and #engagenow.

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Susan Neely

Susan Neely

Susan K. Neely is the President and CEO of the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI), the nation's leading trade association dedicated to providing products and services that contribute to Americans' financial and retirement security. As president and CEO, Neely drives public policy and advocacy on behalf of ACLI's member companies that represent 94 percent of industry assets and serve 90 million families.