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Women & Finances: Guest blog by Schroders Personal Wealth

07 March 2022

Leigh Dunkley, Financial Wellbeing Lead at Schroders Personal Wealth discusses disparity in wealth, financial wellbeing and financial planning for women.

This blog was written for the DWF Young Professionals Network by Leigh Dunkley, Financial Wellbeing Lead at Schroders Personal Wealth

Hello March – Let’s #BreakTheBias

Growing up in what I would describe as a traditional family environment, my childhood memories involve my dad earning the family income – “the breadwinner of the family” - and my mum being the primary caregiver to me and my two younger siblings, working the majority of her adult life part time.

Throughout my younger years the set-up of our home life was never a cause for concern however when I turned 17, the relationship between my parents broke down and sadly ended in divorce. This was when I first experienced disparity; Disparity in the wealth my parents each had as individuals and the perceived disparity in their confidence to earn, understand and spend money.

As I entered my adult life I soon found out that financial wellbeing, in the same way as mental health does not discriminate. Just because my father earned more didn’t mean that he didn’t have similar financial worries to my mum. And just because my mum had less in her bank account didn’t mean she couldn’t achieve happiness in her life.

This is just one experience from my life that I’ve brought forward with me that has shaped my view of money and broader wellbeing.

61% of women now save at least 12% of their income for retirement or are in a defined benefit pension scheme, the same as men1.

Saving for retirement is one area of financial planning that women have historically always lagged behind in. For the vast majority of us, retirement may feel like a long way away and the importance of starting early to plan for our future can often be forgotten.

According to the latest Women and Retirement Report published by Scottish Widows, women are now saving the same percentage of their income as men1. This is welcome news however is only one snapshot of the state of retirement savings and does not mean that men and women are saving the same amount. Indeed other measures show that considerable gender differences remain. These include:

  • Differences in the average savings rate
  • Structural inequalities between men and women in the workforce including the gender pay gap and different working patterns
  • Differences in expectations and worries about retirement.

These disparities still unfortunately mean that the average savings gap between men and women is anywhere between £100,000 and £130,000 dependant on age1.

Regardless of gender, all of us can contribute to changing the narrative with the hope of eradicating disparity across all inequalities not just gender. Some top tips of where we could focus our energy to help improve our confidence and financial wellbeing are:

R - Review household expenses

It can be useful to review your expenses to see if you can save money by switching to cheaper deals with energy suppliers, insurance providers and mobile phone contracts.

O - Organise finances

You could keep track of your income and outgoings to work out where savings can be made and understand your current financial position. This can also help you identify spending patterns, set financial goals and monitor progress.

C - Create a plan

The creation of a financial plan could help you identify large outlays you may have in the future and start to prioritise the things in life that matter to you. When people know what they want to achieve, they find it easier to create a plan to get there.

K - Keep the plan on track

Once the plan is in place, it’s important to keep it up to date. As part of this, you could consider whether to contribute more to your pensions, maximise the benefits offered by your employer, or maximise other tax-efficient investments such as ISAs.

E - Expect emergencies

We advocate that everyone should have some easily accessible money available in case of emergencies, such as the boiler breaking down or the car needing new tyres. You should also regularly review if you have the right levels of protection in place including but not limited to Life Assurance, Critical Illness and Income Protection.

T - Take financial advice

72% of UK adults said that sorting out their finances is a priority for them in 20222.

Remember that you’re not alone and seeking the support of a financial adviser could help you kick start the process of creating your own financial plan. To book in for your free financial health check with an adviser please visit: www.spw.com/referral/talk-money-week

There are no hidden fees and charges, and you’ll only pay if you choose to go ahead with the recommendations in your personalised financial plan.

Written for DWF by Leigh Dunkley, Financial Wellbeing Lead at Schroders Personal Wealth


1 Scottish Widows Women and Retirement Report, November 2021

2 Schroders Personal Wealth, ‘Financial wellbeing research’, December 2021.

Further Reading