8 March 2012

New Zealand women: take control of your financial future

New Zealand women need to take firmer control of their financial future – that’s the message from a Westpac New Zealand online survey, highlighting their financial vulnerability and an alarming lack of long-term planning.

The key findings from the survey of 780 Kiwis about their confidence around personal finance and their financial future revealed that:

  • 44% of women feel financially insecure (compared to 35% of men)
  • 21% worry daily about their financial future (compared to 14% of men)
  • 27% of women list putting money into savings or investments as a current focus (compared to 37% of men)

Westpac New Zealand General Manager Retail Bank, Gai McGrath, said Kiwi women need to get savvier and to stop thinking ‘in the now’.

“Our survey indicates that Kiwi women are running the majority of household budgets, and carrying the responsibility of teaching their children about saving, but failing to look after their own financial future and this makes them vulnerable later in life,” Ms McGrath said.

“It’s compounded if women step away from work to have or care for children. When that happens they have a reduced capacity to save or invest for their future because they invariably lose the opportunity to participate in future-focussed schemes like workplace superannuation.

“Many women clearly have good financial skills, but our survey indicates that they may not be applying them to long-term goals to help themselves. International Women’s Day provides the opportunity to raise these issues and start discussing them publicly and at home.”

Strong focus on day-to-day spending

The women surveyed showed a strong day-to-day focus on money, with 36% of those in relationships doing the household budgeting on their own (compared to 18% of men), and 44% doing the actual spending for the household (compared to 11% of men).

The financial impact of caring for children

Stepping back from their career, 73% left work to care for children, with 48% taking between two and five years off. Only 25% of women were confident that they were financially prepared to be a sole provider for their family if that situation arose (compared to 33% of men).

Impact in retirement

More than a third of women, 35% (compared to 27% of men), said they had not given any thought to what age they would retire at. Nearly half, 45% (compared to 38% of men, said they had no idea how much money they will need to have saved for retirement. Additionally, 40% of the women surveyed indicated that New Zealand Superannuation would be their main source of income in retirement (compared to 27% of men).

“That such a large percentage of New Zealand women are relying on the pension for the bulk of their retirement income is worrying, and will inevitably mean a change in their quality of life. There are strong lessons here for young New Zealand women,” Ms McGrath said.


Westpac’s top tips for young New Zealand women

  • Plan and be responsible for your own financial success
  • Time is your friend - use it to develop a financial plan that addresses your short, medium and long-term goals
  • Start your savings habits early. Consider options like savings plans and KiwiSaver
  • Keep your financial independence because a man is not a financial plan for the future

Key Findings:


How often are you concerned about the financial future?

  • *F21% daily **M14%

How often do you experience financial difficulties?

  • F39% all the time or often M25%

How financially secure do you feel?

  • F44% very insecure/somewhat insecure M35%

Are you financially prepared to be a sole provider?

  • F25% are confident M33%

Who does what in the household

  • Pay the bills F44% on their own M33%
  • Does the budgeting F36% on their own M18%
  • Daily household spending F44% on their own M11%
  • Oversees children’s banking F50% on their own M10%


How has caring for kids affected your career?

  • F73% took or taking a break
  • M75% did not take break

At what age will you retire?

  • F35% given no thought to it M27%

How much money do you need to have saved for retirement?

F45% no idea M38%

What will be your main source of income in retirement?

  • F40% NZ Superannuation (pension) M27%
  • F11% Personal retirement savings M21%
  • F23% KiwiSaver M20%

Confident of having a good financial plan for the future

  • F27% vs M36%

* F = Female **M = Men

The survey is weighted to reflect the NZ online population, being 51% females and 49% males. Just over 400 females were surveyed.