The Retirement Challenge: Dilemmas and Decisions Through Every Decade

The Retirement Challenge: Dilemmas and Decisions Through Every Decade

Women are unique in what they need and want from financial advice; yet they face similar challenges throughout each stage of their lives.

All investors must grapple with complex questions when facing the prospect of retirement: How will the markets affect my portfolio? How healthy will I be? What am I not thinking of that might send a shock wave through my plans?

Such questions assume more importance for women due to a variety of compounding factors:

  • Longer average life expectancies —Women who reach age 65 are on average expected to live 2.3 years longer than men who reach the same age.1
  • Lower incomes during working years —Women receive nearly 1/3 less compensation than men over their lifetimes.
  • Gaps in employment —Women may take some time off to care for aging parents or others.
  • Lower savings levels —Women tend to have lower account balances than men despite needing higher ones—women who retired in 2012 are expected to spend 15% more time in retirement than men (20.5 vs. 17.9 years).2
  • Higher medical costs —Women have a higher chance than men of being impacted financially by chronic or terminal illnesses over their longer lifespan.
  • Higher taxes —80% of women in their final years may be single and facing potentially higher tax rates than married couples do.3

What can women do to overcome these retirement challenges? Plenty, if they make smart moves at every stage of life. This guide examines how women’s challenges evolve over the decades as they prepare for retirement, and offers ideas for action steps they can take at any age—from their twenties to their seventies and beyond.

1 FA Social Security Administration. Calculators: Life Expectancy. 2015. (

2 OECD. Expected years in retirement. Society at a Glance 2014: OECD Social Indicators. s.l.: OECD Publishing. 2014.

3 Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar. On My Own Two Feet. 2007.

Audience: Advisors, Asset Managers, Broker-Dealers, Registered Investment Advisors, Wealth Managers