Leaders from the financial services sector have been urged to keep shining the spotlight on the superannuation gender gap, and to continue applying pressure to shift the cultural and societal causes that underpin it.

On average, Australian women are still retiring with superannuation balances 46.6 per cent lower than men. Legislation targeting gender equity is no doubt part of the answer, but can only partially correct this social and economic problem.

“A lot of the gender gap in super comes down to cultural and societal attitudes toward unpaid work, flexibility in the workplace, and women’s role in work and family,” Self-managed Superannuation Fund Association (SMSFA) head of policy Jordan George says. “We need to turn our mind to these issues, as well as looking for legislative solutions.”

In conjunction with the Financial Services Council, and sponsored by Commonwealth Bank, the SMSF Association has organised the Women, Super and Wealth Summit, to be held in Sydney on April 27, 2017. The summit’s program strives to keep the spotlight on the gender gap in women’s retirement outcomes and develop strategies that financial services providers can use to reduce it.

Sessions will cover the causes of the gender gap, how to engage daughters to promote a generational shift, possible policy solutions, and case studies of proven practices to improve retirement outcomes.

Presenters will include: Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer; Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell; Rice Warner chief executive Michael Rice; Colonial First State executive general manager Linda Elkins; and Women in Super executive officer Sandra Buckley.

“Discussions keep these ideas in the spotlight and can help change cultural attitudes more quickly,” SMSFA’s George says. “Financial services and super funds should be taking a leadership role in addressing this problem for society.”

Organisers hope that people will take implementable ideas from the summit back to their own businesses to help women who are employees and clients. This should help change attitudes and beliefs that underpin the gender gap.

In the SMSF sector, advisers need to ensure that trustees’ strategies focus on women’s superannuation, as about 70 per cent of SMSFs are held by married couples.

“It is important the advice and investments that are being carried out cater for women’s superannuation, too,” George says.

He added that institutional super funds need to improve and increase advice, as women’s retirement outcomes are radically different than those for male members. And as senior executives are still predominantly male, they need to embrace the changes required for progress.

“This is not a problem for women to solve; it is a problem for all of us in the financial services industry to solve,” George says.

 To view the full program or register for the Women, Super and Wealth Summit, jointly presented by the SMSF Association, Financial Services Council and Commonwealth Bank, visit the event website.

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