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Pensions gender gaps exist across several industries, research finds

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Women’s pension savings at retirement are less than half the size of men’s, according to a financial services provider’s analysis of its workplace pensions data.

Legal & General analysed more than 4.5 million defined contribution (DC) workplace pension savers.

When looking at thousands of people who retired last year, it found that women had typically built a pot of £12,000 at retirement, while men had £26,000 put away.

The findings did not take into account any savings which may be placed elsewhere, or state pension entitlement.

The study by Legal & General, which also looked more widely across pension savers who are its members rather than just those who are retired, found the gender pensions gap exists across different sectors, and ranges from a gap of 59% among pension savers working in the healthcare industry, to 13% in courier services.

The healthcare (59%), construction (51%), real estate/property development (48%), pharmaceutical (46%), aerospace, defence and government services (46%), and senior care (45%) sectors were found to have the particularly big pensions gender gaps.

Rita Butler-Jones, co-head of defined contribution at Legal & General, said: “It is striking that some of the sectors where we see the highest gender pensions gaps – such as senior care, healthcare and pharmaceuticals – are also among the top sectors for female employment.”

There are many reasons for the gender pensions gap, ranging from women holding fewer senior positions and being paid less, to female workers often taking more career breaks due to caring responsibilities, it added.

Katharine Photiou, commercial director of workplace savings at Legal & General, said the pensions gender gap is “a serious issue in itself, but it deepens when life expectancy is taken into consideration too”.

She continued: “We’ve all heard about the gender pay gap, but very few discuss the gender pensions gap, despite the fact so many women experience it.

“This shows more needs to be done to boost engagement with pensions, particularly with those who feel less confident, and who may need help on where to start when it comes to making financial decisions.”

Legal & General said all companies and pension providers should disclose their gender pensions gaps, to raise awareness of the issue, and work together to help close it across all sectors.

Here are some suggestions from Legal & General to help build a pension pot:

1. Starting early will help you to benefit from interest on your pension pot over time.

2. Check the charges on your historic pension pots. See if consolidating your pots will bring them down.

3. Check how much your state pension will be and when you will get it. If it is not going to support your ideal lifestyle, plan how you will cover any shortfall.

4. Put a bit more into your pension whenever you get a pay rise.

5. Talk through your pension planning with your partner. Make sure you know about each other’s saving plans, contribution limits and that you are both on the same page.

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