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MEDIA RELEASE. Almost half (44.1%) of Australian women say they would not be financially stable if their relationship or marriage were to end tomorrow, new research from Fidelity International reveals.  This compares to 29.7% of men.

Women are also vulnerable when it comes to job security with one in three (34.5%) saying they could only manage for up to a month if they were to lose their job unexpectedly, compared to 23.8 percent of men.

The research, conducted as part of Fidelity’s Value of Advice study, shows that women continue to be more financially vulnerable than men and this is having a significant impact on their health and wellbeing.

Alva Devoy, managing director of Fidelity International Australia, said: “The fact that a significant proportion of women worry about their financial security and don’t think they could manage if their relationship broke down or they suddenly lost their livelihood is very concerning, for more than just financial reasons.

“Financial stress has many different knock-on effects – it impacts physical health as well as mental health, and personal relationships. In our survey, more than half of women (57.7%) said that financial issues have adversely affected their mental health, compared to 47.8% of men.  In addition, 41% of women report their physical health has been impacted, compared to 33% of men,” Ms Devoy said.

While the Fidelity research also showed that women and men are equally likely to worry about their retirement – 38.7% of women said they don’t feel particularly prepared, while 34.1 percent of men felt the same way – there was a stark difference in those they don’t feel prepared at all.

In all, 32.4% of women feel this way compared to 19.7% of men.  Overall, just 28.8% of women feel very or reasonably prepared for retirement, compared to 42.2% of men.

As well, 60.1% of women believe they may have to keep working past retirement age to fund their retirement, compared to 50.1% of men, and 47.9% say that preparing for retirement compounds their financial worries and stressors, compared to 38% of men.

“Unfortunately, these concerns are very valid for women,” Ms Devoy says.  “With women still earning less, as well as being more likely to take time out of the workforce to raise a family, superannuation balances for women are significantly smaller.  This is a serious issue, especially when you consider that women’s life expectancy is longer. Closing the gender pay gap and helping women save more in their superannuation, as well as for a rainy day, are critical issues for our society as a whole, particularly in light of this year’s theme for International Women’s Day, Generation Equality,” Ms Devoy said.

Fidelity’s research report, The financial power of women, last year revealed some of the barriers that are preventing women from investing. However, encouragingly, this year’s study showed that women are open to receiving help, with 39% saying they have never received financial advice but would consider it.  Of those who have never received advice, 23.4% say the one of the key reasons is because they don’t know where to start.

Devoy continues: “The capacity of women to effectively access financial services and products remains one of the greatest hurdles to unlocking their financial power.  As an industry, we have a role to play in helping women to access the financial services they need to improve their financial and overall wellbeing.

“Achieving more financial security doesn’t necessarily mean earning more money but it does mean having a plan that helps women understand their financial position and what steps they need to take to feel more confident.”