Women’s wealth issues go beyond regulatory reform

The financial services industry should turn the topic of more women achieving financial security, which was of national importance, from a specialist gender research topic to a mainstream economic narrative as it had mainstream economic consequences, Commonwealth Bank (CBA) believes.

Speaking at the Self-Managed Superannuation Fund  Association (SMSFA) and the Financial Services Council’s (FSC’s) Women, Super, and Wealth Summit on Thursday, CBA’s group executive for wealth management, Annabel Spring said teaching women about budgeting was not investing and not true financial literacy in terms of giving them true financial choices.

She said that the industry needed to venture beyond regulatory reform and focus on reforming cultural and personal barriers to help close the gender gap in superannuation.

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“We all know the importance of financial resilience, particularly women’s ability to withstand financial shocks such as an unexpected retrenchment, separation, or a health issue,” Spring said.

“How do we need to improve access to information and advice and how do we help women make informed choices and build this financial capability? ‘Choice’ as they exercise that financial capability is incredibly important.

 “As an industry, we need to place as much emphasis on education about long-term asset accumulation as we do everyday budgeting and money.”

Spring said the industry should bring women to a point where they had a range of fair choices, knew they had choices, and were savvy enough to understand the outcomes of her choices and could manage their own investments, inside super, outside super, and potentially an SMSF.

She noted that $158.8 billion would be added to the Australian economy each year if the pay gap and workforce participation gaps were eliminated.

“If parity was achieved in superannuation savings an extra $455.7 billion lump sum would be added to the retirement savings pool, if we use the ‘average’ super balance in our methodology,” Spring said.

“I would imagine that between the retirement savings pool and the extra GDP we could afford a little bit more infrastructure and a little bit more childcare.”

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