How to Fight the Financial Fragility of 50-something Females

Louisville, KY—October 26, 2016—Women in their 50s are more financially fragile than they were just one generation ago, according to new research from the George Washington University Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center.

“There are many real and complicated factors contributing to 50-something women’s sense of financial insecurity today. No matter the cause, however, it is time for the financial services industry to zero in on how it is failing women in general and contributing to the financial insecurity of women in this age group in particular,” said Carla Dearing, CEO of SUM180, an online financial planning service designed to make financial planning simple and affordable.

Among the research findings:

  • Since the early 1990s, overall debt has doubled for women in their 50s
  • The percentage of 50-something women with less than $25,000 in savings has also doubled
  • Women in their 50s are more likely to have mortgage debt totaling more than half the value of their homes
  • Women in their 50s are delaying retirement because of higher levels of debt, including student debt, and higher rates of marital disruption such as divorce or widowhood

These findings are additionally substantiated by the results of a recent survey of American workers by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. This study reveals that 46% of women are either ‘not too confident’ or ‘not at all confident’ in their ability to retire with a comfortable lifestyle, compared with 36% of men; only 12% of women are ‘very confident’ in their ability to fully retire with a comfortable lifestyle.

The findings of this survey also reveal that just a little over a third (36%) of female respondents reported using a professional financial advisor. Among female respondents who provided an estimate of their retirement savings needs, 62% reported they ‘guessed.’

“Given the financial challenges they face, 50-something women, as a group, arguably could benefit the most from the services of a financial adviser. The fact that they are not reaching out for that help suggests that the industry’s approach to this demographic is flawed,” Carla continued.

Carla calls on the financial services industry to better serve 50-something women with the following suggestions:

  1. Offer doable solutions. Life transitions, such as divorce and widowhood are natural entry points to financial planning; many women over 50 reach out to financial advisers for the first time during these transitions. What a client needs, especially at this time, is a financial plan designed to empower rather than overwhelm. To engage the client, the plan should take a holistic view, but require the client to focus on only the most important next steps so as to be experienced as simple and doable.
  2. Offer more women financial planners. Recent research from State Street Global Advisers indicates that women using female advisers are more confident in their adviser’s investing skills. They’re also more likely to say that their adviser has their best interests in mind and at heart. However, women advisers represent only 14% of the total adviser and broker head count. Whether it’s divorce or widowhood or something else, it is natural for clients to be more comfortable with a financial adviser who shares their life experience, who ‘gets it.’ If the advisory industry wants to serve women well, it’s time for the industry to start reflecting the full diversity of its clientele.
  3. Language matters. 52% of women say information that is easier to understand would motivate them to learn more about retirement. Financial advisers need to eliminate industry jargon, and adopt clear and straightforward communication strategies. This includes asking plenty of questions and really listening; women want advisers to help, not to educate.

“The fact that the financial services industry has plenty of room for improvement does not let 50-something women ‘off the hook.’ No matter how hard it is, when it comes to securing our own financial future, there is no excuse not to act. Every single one of us is dropping the ball on some key element of our financial picture, whether it’s failing to save for our kids’ college, not having adequate insurance coverage or accumulating a little too much credit card debt. Every woman deserves a sound, doable game plan from her money and advice from a financial planner she can trust—but it’s up to each of us, individually, to reach out for the help we need. We need to take that first step,” Carla concluded.


About SUM180

SUM180 is an online financial planning service designed to make planning and dealing with your money simple and affordable.

Specifically, SUM180 is differentiated in the following ways:

  • SUM180 meets people where they are. SUM180 plans are personalized to help people wherever they are right now on their financial journey; whether they’re just beginning, starting over or well on their way.
  • SUM180 plans are simple. They start with only the three (3) most important next steps, making them easier to accomplish, and gives clients a clear picture of where they are.
  • SUM180 doesn’t assume clients want to become financial experts to meet their financial goals. SUM180 provides the tools they need, without overwhelming them with “education” and details they don’t need.
  • SUM180 offers a community for users, unfiltered, which allows them to explore and share.
  • SUM180 serves; never sells. Earning and keeping client trust is SUM180’s highest priority. SUM180 never makes commissions from any of its recommendations, ever.

Additional information about SUM180 may be found at

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Robin Schoen
Robin Schoen Public Relations
215.504.2122 office
215.595.7542 mobile



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