TIAA-CREF Survey Finds Women Less Confident Than Men That They're Saving Enough for Retirement


Women more likely to change savings and spending habits after receiving financial advice
Many women feel trusted advice is hard to find and not affordable

NEW YORK, NY, Nov. 25, 2013 – Just 56 percent of women express confidence that they’re saving enough for retirement, compared to 65 percent of men, according to a recent survey from TIAA-CREF. Women surveyed believe they would be more likely to change their savings and spending habits after receiving financial advice, but nearly half say financial advice will cost more than they can afford – and one in three say they don’t even have the time to look for help.

The survey was conducted by an independent research firm and polled a random sample of 1,000 adults nationwide on their attitudes, preferences and behaviors about receiving financial advice. This is the second consecutive year of the survey.

“Women have unique needs when it comes to achieving financial well-being. They tend to live longer than men. They often interrupt their high-earning years to care for children or elderly parents, which is why it’s so important that women connect with financial advice they trust so that they feel empowered to act on it,” said Teresa Hassara, executive vice president and head of the Institutional Business at TIAA-CREF.

Hassara added that those who have had a retirement advice session with a TIAA-CREF Financial Consultant reported high confidence levels about retirement – five times higher than the average American worker.1

When women do reach out to a financial advisor, many subsequently take action: 62 percent monitor their savings and 58 percent modify their spending habits. Nearly 40 percent of women who received financial advice changed their asset allocations in their retirement plan account. The research suggests the perceived challenges of time and cost get in the way of experiencing the benefits of financial planning.

Overall, when it comes to financial planning, women are more focused on the “unexpected,” such as divorce or loss of a loved one rather than milestones like getting married or planning for retirement. However, according to Hassara, those “what if” moments can also mean having the ability to take advantage of exciting opportunities.

“Imagine that your child is accepted to a great school or your dream house suddenly becomes available. Having a financial plan helps you have the resources to enjoy happy surprises, not just make it through the challenges,” she added.

Half of the women surveyed say that it would be helpful to have financial advice created and designed specifically by women. In support of its goal to help women become financially secure and successful, TIAA-CREF continues to expand its Woman to Woman Financial Empowerment Series, which includes workshops that are developed and delivered by women, for women. Each workshop is interactive, allowing attendees to learn from the financial advisor, as well as the other women in the room. To date, this program has reached thousands of women across the country. Seventy-three percent of these attendees have increased their retirement plan contributions.2 In addition, many of these women sign up for individual counseling, realizing that advice they can trust on retirement plan options is available as a feature of their retirement plans.

The series features live events, workshops and webinars for TIAA-CREF clients and, in some instances, for their friends and families, too. Programs include:

  • "She's Got It: A Woman’s Guide to Saving and Investing" introduces core concepts and strategies to build a plan, set goals and take action.
  • "Postcards from the Future: A Woman's Guide to Financially Ever After" shares strategies to identify your retirement vision and define the next steps.
  • "Start to Finish: The Early Career Woman's Guide to Financial Wisdom" explores the exponential benefits of early savings and the essential features of retirement investments.

Underway for 2014 is a new workshop, "Attention to Detail: Financial Finishing Touches for Women," which focuses on understanding the rules as well as the flexible income choices for retirement accounts. A new interactive event, “Opening Doors,” stimulates dialogue among women in different generations and encourages paying it forward in terms of financial advocacy.

In addition to one-on-one sessions and group workshops and events, TIAA-CREF has greatly expanded its virtual community for women. On its expanded Woman to Woman site, visitors can access content relevant to their stage in life and key turning points, such as buying a home, marriage or divorce, elder care, or even handling situations with adult children who move back home.

TIAA-CREF has been providing personalized retirement planning advice since 2005 at no additional cost to clients. The company currently offers in-person financial services at more than 65 offices across the country, in addition to phone representatives who are licensed and trained to provide advice. These services provide individuals with suggested asset diversification strategies and investment recommendations to support their success in reaching retirement income goals.

For details on the study, read the TIAA-CREF Financial Advice Survey Executive Summary (PDF). For more information about financial planning, visit the TIAA-CREF Advice and Guidance Center.

To learn about the Woman to Woman Financial Empowerment Series or receive in-person advice or other support, visit

Survey Methodology

The survey was conducted by KRC Research by phone among a national random sample of 1,000 adults, age 18 years and older, between August 28, 2013, and September 2, 2013. The margin of error for the entire sample is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.


TIAA-CREF ( is a national financial services organization with $542 billion in assets under management (as of 9/30/2013). It is the leading provider of retirement services in the academic, research, medical and cultural fields.

Media Contacts
Chad Peterson
TIAA-CREF / 888 200-4062

Elizabeth Anderson
TIAA-CREF / 888 200-4062