Closing the gap


By Trudi Vossen

Westpac reveals it has a whopping 30 percentage gender pay gap

A third of women have less than $5,000 in KiwiSaver accounts.

How can women close the retirement savings gap?

These are some of the 2019 media headlines in New Zealand. I understand it can be very hard to believe these headlines when New Zealand led the world as the first country where women won the right to vote in 1893. Clearly, we have some way to go in terms of women “getting ahead” financially.

According to a story published in 2018, Strategic Pay chief executive John McGill said, “There's virtually no pay gap up until about age 30 ... there is no bias in the recruitment, they just pick the best people.”

"However, in the 30s things start to change. If you take time out of the workforce, when you come back you may well be struggling to pick up your career when you left off.”

He said women taking time off work in their 30s, often to start a family, played into the gender pay gap, one of many reasons why women were on an uneven keel to their male colleagues.

But that’s not all. Recent studies show women fall further behind in the retirement savings race too. Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell said: “We know that women live longer and are more likely to be on their own which, coupled with lower retirement savings, creates a perfect storm.’’

Based on the current savings patterns; women were likely to retire with almost $80,000 less in their KiwiSaver accounts than men and this is partly because women are paid less and can take more career breaks.

Also, many women are still struggling with a lack of confidence and growing anxiety when it comes to money. A recent report found that 64 per cent of women say their finances have impacted their mental health and 57 per cent of women say they wish they were more confident in their financial decision making.

So how do we bridge this confidence gap and get more women to take control of their financial future? Fortunately, there’s a pretty simple answer: educate yourself and seek advice.

Women need to educate themselves about how to mitigate things like illness and the loss of a partner and talk to an expert about things like estate planning, life and health insurance, investing and retirement planning. The more informed and prepared women are for these things, the better they will feel, and the more protected they will be.  

As a financial adviser, I believe good advice can help identify factors that can impact the future — inflation, property purchases, personal insurance, children’s education, retirement etc. Advisers can make personalised recommendations that fit you and your life. That means you can have more confidence in planning your future, not to mention an easier and more informed way around your money and goals.

Not only will this support help you put your money and goals in the right place, but women who work alongside financial advisers will also become more confident about their money.  So, if you're feeling anxious about money, even while you're earning more, take the time to manage the money that you have worked so hard to earn.

  • Trudi Vossen is an Authorised Financial Adviser at Stewart Group – a Hawke's Bay-based CEFEX certified financial planning and advisory firm. Stewart Group provides personal fiduciary services, Wealth Management, Risk Insurance & KiwiSaver solutions.

  •  The information provided, or any opinions expressed in this article, are of a general nature only and should not be construed or relied on as a recommendation to invest in a financial product or class of financial products. You should seek financial advice specific to your circumstances from an Authorised Financial Adviser before making any financial decisions. A disclosure statement can be obtained free of charge by calling 0800 878 961 or visit our website,