Gender-specific tools needed to close gap

The financial services industry needs to design online tools accompanied by tailored education programs for specific member demographics to help close the gender gap in superannuation, Rice Warner believes.

An analysis by the research house said while current online financial tools did allow for manipulation of a retirement projection to some degree, such as factoring in periods of no contributions and part-time work, it could be taken a step further by implementing female specific online tools.

"A best practice strategy which leverages knowledge of members' needs, preferences and attitudes is the most likely to be successful," the analysis said.

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It said awareness and action from society, government initiatives, superannuation funds, employers, and individuals would provide potential solutions to close the gap for females that were caused by lifecycle events, demographic barriers, and attitudes.

Rice Warner said solutions included employers providing flexible workplace practices and financial support for female staff, super funds through education and advice, and individuals who must take responsibilities for their own future.

On the employer side, Rice Warner said if a proportion of staff struggled as a result of genetics, then there was an argument to support them more in the same way that insurance cover should be set to cover needs.

"Any major solutions will take many years to have an impact, but in the meantime there should be a focus on incremental changes which can have a material impact on the retirement prospects of women across Australia," it said.

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