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Women must work 25 years more to retire with the same amount of super as men


10 December 2013

  • $121,200 gap between median super account balance for women and men, aged 60 to 64, in Australia
  • 83% of women aged 40-65 surveyed do not feel prepared for retirement
  • Over half (51%) expected to have ‘saved more by now’ for their retirement

The average 60-year-old Australian woman would need to work an extra 25 years in order to retire with the same superannuation account balance as her male counterpart1, according to the Westpac Women & Retirement Readiness Report2, released today.

The report has shown a $121,200 gap between the median super account balance for women and men ($108,900 and $230,100 respectively), meaning women on an average female wage ($51,200 p.a.) need to work until they are 85 to start their retirement on a level financial playing field.

“Putting off planning for our retirement is something we all tend to be guilty of at one stage or another. Both men and women should try to do more now in preparation for their life beyond work, however we know that women, as primary carers, take career breaks, receive less pay than men and often return to work in a part-time capacity. These are unique issues women face when it comes to preparing for their retirement so taking action and starting early is essential,” said Westpac’s Director of Women’s Markets, Larke Riemer.

The report, which looked at the financial reality for Australian women aged 40-65, also found that around half of respondents (51%) expected to have saved more in their superannuation fund, savings accounts and investments at this point in time to fund their lifestyle in the years beyond work.

Further, the majority of women aged 50-65 years (56%) regret not having planned better as they approach retirement, realising that they won’t be able to maintain their current lifestyle. These women are encouraging their own daughters to take action sooner rather than later, with 40% advising them to “start saving now”.

Ms. Riemer said, “It shouldn’t be daunting - set clear retirement goals and budget accordingly. Focus on paying off your debt before you retire and try to build wealth throughout your working life.

“You should aim to build a retirement income that is 65% of your working income, and that is the same for both women and men as most people still have some way to go with their planning. It’s really just about dedicating some time and taking small steps now, to help yourself in the future.”

As a result of their current financial situation over half of the survey’s participants aged in their 50s and 60s (53%) are now preparing to retire later than they had forecasted when they were in their 40’s. These women plan to ease themselves into retirement by reducing the number of hours they work each week from the age of 57; and then work until 64 years of age as they pay off debts and save more to ensure they can maintain their standard of living.

“What this research is also showing us is that women in their 50s are already resigned to retiring later in life than originally planned. What’s encouraging though is that they are taking control by making a conscious decision to work longer to help pay debts off and continue building their nest egg. The key take out is that younger women should take note and act now,” concluded Ms Riemer.

For more information on Ruby Connection, please visit

1 Refer to calculation table in the appendix (ii). Data supplied by Roy Morgan.
2 The Westpac Women & Retirement Readiness Report, conducted by Sweeney Research in August 2013.
Westpac Tips for Women aged 40-65 and Nearing Retirement

1. Be clear on your retirement goals
It’s important to understand what you want out of retirement. Different desired outcomes require different amounts of money. 

2. Establish a budget
Determine how much money is needed for your retirement, and develop a budget that supports your retirement (including fundamentals for living such as groceries, medical expenses, etc.), as well as the money necessary to fulfil your goals.

3. Retire your debt before you retire
Don't go into retirement still owing money. This will unduly bite into your retirement funding.

4. Explore tax benefits
There are considerable tax benefits to contributing more to your super, especially for women over 60, so this is something that should be explored and considered in your planning.

5. Identify the best ways to build wealth
Build a portfolio of good assets that support your financial goals. As you get closer to retirement, you can consider increasing your contributions your superannuation.

The Westpac Women & Retirement Readiness Report

Key findings -

Financial Snapshot of women aged 40-65:

  • 51% expected to have saved more in their superannuation fund, savings accounts and investments by now to fund their retirement
  • 83% of women aged 40-65 surveyed do not feel prepared for retirement 
  • 40% would advise their daughters to start saving no

Women aged 40-65 and their retirement plans:

  • 56% of those aged 50-65 regret not having planned better as they approach retirement
  • 53% in their 50s and 60s prepare to retire later than they had forecast in their 40s
  • Easing into retirement - reduce number of hours they work each week from age of 57, and work until they are 64 years old
  • Women in their 50s are already resigned to retiring later in life than  they originally planned

(i) Calculation (number of extra working years required for females to retire with the same super account balance as males):

6. Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Oct-2012 to Sep-2013).
Base: Australian adults (18 years or older) unless otherwise specified:

  • Male versus female average superannuation balance aged between 60-64 (includes retirees):
    Male median: $230,100
    Female median: $108,900
    Note difference: $121,200
  • Average salary for women in Australia:
    Note: Base is working women. Based on personal income from all sources, not just salary income. 
    Mean: $51,200


1. The calculation is based on the current average salary multiplied by the current legislated Super Guarantee (SG) rate – no allowance is made for earnings on the accumulated superannuation balance or contributions. In addition, no allowance is made for earnings on the equivalent median
male balance or any pension drawdowns which would alter the gender gap.

2. No allowance is made for salary growth or for inflation.

3. Assumes super contributions at the legislated rate only for which there is a current proposal to defer increases in SG for 2 years.

4. The proxy for income used includes all sources of income not just employment income.

5. Assumes Contributions tax of 15%.

    net of CT
Contributions tax (CT) 15% 85%

5. Contribution rates:

Contribution rate  
1 July 2013 - 30 June 2014 9.25%
1 July 2014 - 30 June  2015 9.50%
1 July 2015 - 30 June 2016  10%
1 July 2016 - 30 June 2017 10.50%
1 July 2017 - 30 June 2018 11%
1 July 2018 - 30 June 2019 11.50%
1 July 2019 - 30 June 2020 and onwards 12%

Note: Contribution rates are based on current law however, legislation is in front of the Senate to delay these increases by 2 years

About Westpac Women’s Markets

Westpac was the first Australian bank with a unit exclusively dedicated to supporting women. The Women's Markets team works alongside female business owners and professional women to help them build sustainable and profitable careers.

About is Westpac’s interactive online community designed to inspire, educate, promote and connect Australian women no matter what they do, where they live and who they bank with. Ruby provides an opportunity for all Australian women to learn from each other. For more information please visit:

About the survey

This survey was commissioned by Westpac and powered by Sweeney Research. It was driven by an online polling of 613 females aged between 40-65 years who earn at least $65,000 per annum, currently residing in Australia, sourced from the Research Now Online Panel. A copy of the executive summary of the report is available upon request.