Millennial women face being worse off than their mothers and grandmothers – CII

Posted On: 
26th January 2018

New research launched at the CII's headquarters on Tuesday evening shows that while modern society affords women greater freedoms, their economic progress and financial resilience has not kept pace and they are profoundly more exposed to financial difficulty.

Despite greater freedoms afforded by modern society, women today are likely to be worse off than their male partners, mothers and grandmothers. That is according to a sobering new report launched last night from Insuring Women’s Futures, a programme set up by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) who today called on the industry and financial planners to collaborate to help improve women’s financial resilience.

Through analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics, the research found that society’s risks are disproportionately borne by women, who are profoundly more exposed to financial difficulty. The report, titled ‘Securing the financial futures of the next generation’, identified six ‘moments that matter’ during the course of girls’ and women’s lives where interventions could be made to address 12 ‘pitfalls and perils’ to ensure secure and more equal financial futures for all.

Lead author of the report Jane Portas, a partner at Price Waterhouse Coopers and Insuring Women’s Futures Committee lead on Women’s Risks in Life, took the audience at the CII’s headquarters in the City of London through the life journey of girls and women in Britain.

During her keynote address, which was witnessed by policymakers and representatives from the insurance and financial planning profession, Portas outlined the six ‘moments that matter’, beginning with growing up, studying and re-qualifying. The report found that young male apprentices earn 21% more than females due to the sectors they typically work in. Young women are also subject to rising student debt, further exacerbated by lower paid work and disproportionate caring responsibilities.

Next came entering and re-entering the workplace. With the gender pay gap not set to close until 2050, the report called for women to be supported in achieving their full potential, highlighting the role that employers can play in helping women achieve greater financial resilience. The third ‘moment that matters’ was relationships: making and breaking up. With a greater number of couples cohabiting as opposed to getting married, a staggering 35% of people did not realise that they do not have the same rights as married couples.

This equates to a median pension wealth of £0 for separated women, compared to £9,000 for divorced women.

Moving through the life cycle bought us to motherhood and becoming a carer. Women bear the brunt of child and elderly caring, which in turn impacts career choices. Flexible working is costing women a 30% reduction in hourly pay, on top of the cost of childcare, which has remained at an average of 36 hours a week, Portas said.

The penultimate ‘moment that matters’ was later life, planning and entering retirement. Women are more likely to become carers than men aged between 50-64, while men’s average pension wealth is five-times higher at £179,091. 

Lastly came ill-health, infirmity and dying. The research revealed that women face 19 years of ill-health compares to 16 years for men as a result of a rising life expectancy. “The average cost for a 65-year-old woman who needs to live in a care home is £132,000, nearly double men’s,” added Portas.

“This report shows that despite their increased freedoms and progress, women in Britain today generally remain significantly dependent on their male partners, family and the state and fundamentally lack financial resilience,” Portas said. “This means we are all exposed and has much broader implications for our society and economy. Many of the issues leading to women’s risk exposure are deep rooted. They will only get worse for the next generation unless we act now with fresh, innovate approaches and a change of mind-set. 

“Improving outcomes for women requires collaboration between the insurance and financial planning profession, policymakers, employers and society. We need to find new ways of educating and engaging, consider policy approaches that can pave the way for alternative forms of access to risk and financial solutions, and to make financial planning and insurance more relevant and accessible to the many.  And there needs to be more emphasis on the “whole person”, recognising there is no one size fits all. This report presents an opportunity for the relevant parties to join forces to improve women’s risk protection, economic independence and financial resilience, improving the financial future for us all.”

Jude Kelly CBE, founder of the Women of the World (WOW) festival and artistic director of the Southbank Centre said there are some “severe cul-de-sacs” for women regarding money: “Girls and women have got to recalibrate their thinking and develop a huge confidence in the money market and at the same time the money market has got to recognise that girls and women want to hear about it in a slightly different way. To begin with, they want to hear about a story.”

Commenting on the report, Sian Fisher, CEO of the CII and Chair of the Insuring Women’s Futures Committee, said: “All of our risks in life are changing, and in many cases will be worse for the next generation than for the last. What is striking about this study is not just the level of risk to which women and society as a whole are exposed, rather the need for more radical approaches, the urgency to engage women on their terms, to equip and empower them to manage their own risks in life. Today’s women are simply unprepared for the risks that they face in life.

“We need to act now because if we don’t address this, we will not have the resources to sustain the current situation. To help drive this change we have established the Insuring Women’s Futures Market Task Force to work with the profession and collaborate with policymakers to effect innovative and broad change.” 

‘For more information on the Chartered Insurance Institute’s Insuring Women’s Futures programme, visit: http://www.insuringwomensfutures.co.uk/’