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Men and women are making different choices about their retirement savings, which could lead to very different investment outcomes, according to Dr Claire Matthews, Director of Financial Planning at Massey University’s Centre for Banking Studies. Speaking at the 2012 New Zealand Finance Colloquium, held at Massey University’s Albany campus last week, Dr Matthews said demographic characteristics had a substantial impact on the choices people made about KiwiSaver funds and retirement savings more generally. When it came to fund selection, she found there were significant differences based on gender. Men are more likely to invest in aggressive and funds, while women are more likely to choose funds.
“Males are risk takers, it’s in their choice of car or their investment fund,” she says. “But when it comes to long-term savings, risk taking can actually be an advantage.” Dr Matthews also found that men are more likely than women to have prior savings when joining KiwiSaver. Just over half of male respondents said they had savings already, while only 38% of women did. “These figures reflect and confirm, quite disappointingly, the difference between males and females and the level of interest they take in financial planning,” Dr Matthews says. “It’s important for all New Zealanders to be better educated about their personal finances, but this is particularly so for women.”
Other demographic factors, including age, ethnicity, education, and income, can also influence the choices made about retirement savings. Dr Matthews found that those with bachelor and higher degrees, and those in households with a pre-tax income of $100,000 or more, were more likely to choose aggressive and growth funds.
On the other hand, both the youngest and oldest age groups were more likely to be invested in conservative funds. While this might be appropriate for the life-cycle stage of older investors, it might not be so appropriate for younger, longer-term investors.