Many submissions argued that improving financial literacy more broadly
and targeting programs to address the particular circumstances women experience
throughout their lifetime, could improve outcomes for women in retirement. This
chapter summarises the various proposals put to the committee, including:
targeted financial literacy campaigns for young people, especially women;
specific financial literacy and education campaigns for women; and access to
financial advice and financial counselling. A range of inquiry participants
suggested that while Australian women typically had fairly good levels of
financial literacy, they would benefit from targeted information to better
understand their needs in retirement.
Current levels of financial literacy
Women in Super and the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST)
organised a Women's Super Summit in February 2014. Women in Super noted that
many of the Summit's participants emphasised the need for more financial
literacy programs, employer initiatives and product innovation to help
individual women lift their savings rates. At the same time, most of the
participants acknowledged that:
...such developments have limited scope to significantly
improve outcomes for low-to-middle income earners who typically do not have the
capacity to make extra contributions into their superannuation or negotiate
with their employer.
Mrs Buckley, Women in Super, dismissed arguments that women do not have
sufficient financial literacy, but nonetheless suggested there would be value
in providing women with more information to prepare financially for retirement.
She noted that Women in Super had done studies and found:
A lot of the current female working population will actually
say—and we have done some studies into this—'We know about super. We might not
know on a day-to-day basis what our balance is. We don't track it like that but
we do know what we have. We are worried about how much we have, and the implications
for that. We know we don't have enough.' So it is not that they do not know
about it, or they do not understand it; they do. Women will always say, 'We
could know more.'
In its submission, Women in Super observed:
The majority of working women are responsible for managing
family finances and are acutely aware of the problems they face in trying to
accumulate more superannuation. Financial literacy has its place and there will
always be a need for increasing education of what is a complex topic especially
given the interplay with the Age Pension, taxation and superannuation.
The Victorian Women's Trust conducted research in 2014 to determine the
functional superannuation literacy of 115 young women in their 20s and 30s. It
Overall, Super Young Women found that young women generally
identified themselves as being accountable for their own retirement income but
in the absence of targeted information, they did not possess the functional
literacy to be able to make informed decisions about their own super or improve
The AIST noted that Australian women have comparatively good levels of
financial literacy compared with other countries, but that work was still
needed to increase understanding and engagement with superannuation.
Target financial literacy programs
Submissions proposed a number of areas where targeted financial literacy
programs may be beneficial.
Literacy programs for young people
The Victorian Women's Trust pointed out that its research was consistent
with larger studies into young Australian adult's knowledge, behaviour and
attitudes towards superannuation.
Many submissions supported high school education programs for both girls
For example, Women in Super supported an increased focus on financial literacy
programs at school age and early in young people's working lives to raise
awareness of the importance of contributing to superannuation early, before
taking time out for caring responsibilities. It noted, however, that:
...like all young people, young women face competing claims on
their salaries—socialising, travelling, renting, saving to buy a home,
Mr Marco Feltrin, PwC Australia, supported introducing financial
literacy education in schools from a young age as there is a great deal of
disengagement with superannuation across the whole community, and young people
The Hon Susan Ryan AO, Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner,
observed that disengagement in superannuation continues:
You can talk to the 30-year-olds that you know and say, 'Are
you making additional voluntary contributions to your super? Are you thinking
about your super?' and they will say, 'No, we're not, and please don't bore us
with this talk.' And I have bored many young people, including my own children,
with this talk. Young people simply do not think, 'When I'm 65'—or it will
probably be 70 for our young people now—'I'll need a certain amount. Can I make
some savings through super now?' It is very hard to get them to do that.
The Tasmanian Government informed the committee that it has also developed
financial literacy programs around subject choices in order to address the
occupational segregation that contributes to the gender pay gap. The Tasmanian
Government partnered with the University of Tasmania to produce a series of
fact sheets with an emphasis on the gender wage gap, to be distributed to
female students to highlight the importance of subject choice and empower them
to negotiate for better pay as they enter the workforce.
Targeted campaigns and information
The McKell Institute recommended that greater emphasis be placed on
campaigns to encourage the consolidation of superannuation accounts and inform
the public of the risks of losing superannuation through accumulating multiple
accounts throughout a working life. It noted:
Many employers require (or strongly suggest) employees use
the superannuation fund recommended by the employer. Research has shown up to
70 per cent of Australian employees let their employer choose their
superannuation fund. Considering the frequency of women changing occupations
and careers, there is a tendency for many new superannuation accounts to be accumulated
over a working career. Employers should be encouraged to stress the importance
to all new employees of consolidating their superannuation accounts from
previous periods of employment.
Women in Super observed that there is already a great deal of targeted
information available for women, but observed that there has not yet been a
government led campaign targeted at the wider female population about the
benefits of superannuation.
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) conducted a campaign in 2014 focussed
on women and superannuation. The ATO's strategy was targeted at women aged
25–49 years using social media, proactive media and paid advertising encouraging
women to do the '5-step super check'.
The ATO's 5-step check webpage outlines five simple things people can do to
increase their superannuation savings: 'check your super statements', 'making
sure your fund has your TFN [tax file number]', 'keep track of your super using
myGov', 'consider government contributions', 'put extra money into your super'.
The Australian Securities and Investment Commission's (ASIC) MoneySmart website
also includes information on superannuation which is targeted at women.
The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia runs a campaign
every year as part of International Women's Day to encourage employers to 'give
their female employees 60 minutes to sort their super during work hours, not
over lunchtime' to allow employees time to:
...ring call centres and, as a minimum, consolidate accounts;
find any lost super and get it transferred; go on to our consumer website,
Super Guru, and look at some of the calculators which are aimed a lot at women
to help them understand how much they need in retirement and how much they can
actually save in retirement.
Women in Super noted that many superannuation funds have developed
financial literacy campaigns that are specifically aimed at women. It provided
UniSuper's Super Women initiative which includes a website
covering topics as broad as career breaks and super, gender equality, a
financial health checklist and the benefits of putting extra super aside. Since
2004 they have run presentations to members which are routinely the most
popular and subscribed and have reached over 12,000 women. Campaigns are also
run on International Women’s Day reaching 100,000 members with a focus on
educating, empowering and explaining the benefits of super.
VicSuper's Super Woman Money Program which runs twice yearly,
is free of charge and 4,500 have accessed it since its launch in 2012. The
program includes detailed wide range of financial topics—like goal setting,
emotional spending, super, money and relationships, investing and taxation
tips. It also includes seminars and has a dedicated website where women can
post questions to financial planners.
Targeted literacy programs based on
life stage event triggers
The Association of Financial Advisors recommended specific
superannuation-focussed financial literacy programs and education addressing
various life-stage triggers with government funded or subsidised advice being
made available upon marriage, divorce, retirement or the death of a spouse.
The Workplace Gender Equality Agency noted that women, who may have had
career interruptions for various reasons, including family and caring
responsibilities, may need particular financial advice on matters such as
The National Australia Bank and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia
recommended simplifying the rules for tax deductions to make financial advice
Rice Warner noted that any such proposals should be targeted properly. It
One way of structuring it would be to ensure the advice is
delivered through [a person's] superannuation fund. Potentially, a tax rebate
for the advice could be paid into their superannuation account.
The ASU was mindful that the nature of advice being provided is
important. It reasoned that 'the original intent of the Future of Financial
Advice (FOFA) reforms that would protect women from poor financial advice must
be maintained and not watered down'. It emphasised that financial advisers and
superannuation funds must always be required to act in the best interests of
their clients and members as a condition of their licensing terms.
The Australian Bankers' Association recognised the importance of
government funded financial counselling services that assist clients to deal
with addressing multiple debts as well as managing often complex financial and
social problems. It considered that financial counselling services are 'vitally
important to help individuals and families take control of their financial and
personal situations by helping women become more financially resilient and
putting them in a stronger financial position to save for their retirement'.
The committee believes that financial literacy tools and programs could
have an important role in encouraging women, particularly young women, to
engage with their superannuation and think carefully about planning for their
retirement. The committee acknowledges that government and industry have
already developed a range of targeted programs and tools.
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