Columnist image
Pattie Lovett-Reid

Chief Financial Commentator, CTV


There appears to be a disconnect between what women think they know about retirement planning and what they actually know.

Over 80 per cent of women failed the Retirement Income Literacy Quiz offered by The American College of Financial Services. What is a little more worrisome than the failure rate was the majority of women (55 per cent) are still extremely confident they and their spouses would have enough money to retire comfortably. It appears women are aware they have poor retirement literacy, yet this doesn’t impact their confidence in retirement.

When it comes to strategies for sustaining income, life expectancy and life insurance, women all reported lower self-perceived retirement income planning knowledge than men.

Here is the challenge: women aged 65 can expect to live another 20 years on average – two years longer than their male counterparts. With this in mind, women cannot abdicate responsibility for their financial future someone to else. A period of crisis is not the time to figure out your financial situation.

According to other findings from the survey, men tend to think they are the primary financial decision-maker, while women tend to believe that they split the decision-making process. In fact, there is a disconnect between men and women on whether finances are a team effort. Eighty per cent of women said they shared in the financial decision-making process, while only 35 per cent of men felt they shared in the process.

There is a silver lining here: while the majority of women are lacking retirement income literacy, most do understand the value of a financial advisor and were likely to reach out and get the help they need.


 Retirement Income Literacy: Women vs Men

 Knowledge Categories                                                                                   % Correct Women   % Correct Men  
     Annuity products in retirement                                                                                        16%                              24% 
     Company retirement plans                                                                                                 30%                     40% 
     Investment considerations in retirement planning                                               31%       49%
     Strategies for sustaining income throughout retirement                                       34%        48%
     Paying for long-term care expenses                                                                               38%        35% 
     Medicare insurance planning                                                                                             76%        76% 
     Passed Quiz                                                                                                                               18%        35% 

By the way, while only 18 per cent of women passed the quiz, the majority of men failed too, with only 35 per cent passing. We could all do a whole lot better so we don't fail retirement.