Asian-American Women More Confident About Retirement

NEW YORK (MainStreet) – Jean Setzfand is instilling a sense of saving in her 11-year-old daughter by matching whatever she saves in birthday money and holiday gifts dollar for dollar at the end of the year.

"It's about teaching kids to enjoy life today while preparing for the future," said Setzfand, who is Asian-American.

New research by Prudential Financial released yesterday found that Asian-American women are more likely to be on track for retirement and tend to have a higher level of understanding of investment products.

"There's a sense of saving that's instilled in Asian children early on," Setzfand told MainStreet. "That's a lesson to be learned by other cultures."

The Financial Experience and Behaviors Among Women study found that while women overall are less concerned about their financial security than right after the 2008 financial crisis, some 73% of Asian American women feel they are ahead of schedule with retirement compared to 78% of African-American women who are more focused on reducing personal debt.

"Among Asian-Americans, many are graduate level or higher from an educational standpoint," said Jackie Chan, vice-president of global market research with Prudential. "Culturally at least two-thirds are born outside of the U.S., and the countries they were raised in tend to be accumulation oriented."

More than any other ethnic group, 48% of Hispanic women have assumed a bigger role in financial decisions for their households to ensure money is being managed to meet long term goals.

"It's clear the financial services industry needs to start doing a better job reaching out to women and meeting their specific needs," said Lori Fouché, CEO of Prudential Group Insurance. Overall, women are assigning less importance to long term financial goals, suggesting they feel more financially secure.

"It's not a good trend," said Setzfand, vice president of financial security with AARP. "It indicates that they are not seeking professional advice around finances and that they have a false sense of security. The danger is women aren't doing anything, won't be prepared for retirement and are losing time."

Only 75% of women are worried about protecting investments from volatility compared to 96% in 2010, and among age groups, Generation X women are feeling the least confident financially. Born between 1965 and 1980, only 50% think they will have enough money to maintain their lifestyle through retirement compared to 60% of Millennials and 65% of Boomers.

"Gen X-ers are the least confident because of what they went through," Fouché told MainStreet. "They came of age after the 1987 Wall Street crash and it was a tough job market to get into in the early 90s. They saw the Dot Com boom then bust and the Great Recession, so they've been caught in the middle during some prime earning years."

About 27% percent of married women say they take control of financial and retirement planning, up from 14 percent in 2006 but even among women who simply contribute to household income or were not wage earners nearly 50% share equally in the financial planning process with their husbands.

"These results all suggest women are gaining confidence in their ability to manage money," Fouché said.

--Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet

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