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Successful Women


Playing catchup

If you haven’t saved enough for retirement, you’ve still got time

Longer lives mean longer retirements, and for women, especially, who are expected to live five years longer than their male counterparts, this fact can pose a retirement dilemma. You see, according to, women, on average, find themselves more than $268,000 short of what they’ll need to retire comfortably at age 65. Men aren’t immune either. They’re $212,000 off track.

What this means is that a woman preparing for retirement needs to set aside $126 for every $100 a man sets aside – a 26% gender gap. With 53% of women planning to retire after age 65 or not at all, this issue becomes all the more important. And there are many reasons why women tend to fall short when it comes to saving for the later part of their lives. Along with facing the possibility of lower wages compared to their male co-workers, many spend time away from the workplace during their careers to raise children or provide caregiving
assistance to family members.

So what can you do? Women needing to make up for time spent out of the workplace can continue to work in retirement, either full or part time. And while working longer and delaying retirement can be an important opportunity to bridge a savings gap, simply not retiring isn’t exactly a sustainable retirement strategy.

The good news: It appears that women are better savers and participate in more workplace-savings programs than their male colleagues. And women are just as likely as men to invest in stocks, with 73% of their savings invested in equities. They’re also more likely to tap into investment vehicles like target-date funds, which adjust portfolios automatically as a person nears retirement age. Although generally higher wages give men an initial advantage, women tend to be more disciplined savers through the course of their careers. This slow and steady approach, coupled with the power of compounding, can help make up for gaps created by devoting time and energy caring for children or family members.

Despite facing some obstacles, it’s possible to offset these issues with a little planning and patience, some tips for doing so are included below. By saving diligently and working closely with a knowledgeable financial advisor, you and your loved ones will be better prepared to live comfortably in retirement.

Filling your emergency information kit

If the unexpected occurs, will you have the right information at hand?

Although the Boy Scout motto "be prepared" is a good rule of thumb for us all, recent studies indicate that Americans are woefully unprepared for emergencies that may come our way. Creating a vital-information file won’t lessen the shock, but having the right information easily available may help you and your loved ones cope with a natural disaster or a sudden, unexpected illness.

Your emergency information file may be incomplete, outdated or still in an "I’ll do it tomorrow" state, but now is the time to deal with it. Once assembled, keep your information safe, perhaps in a lockable, fireproof box or on a secure, encrypted flash drive. Give copies to a trusted advisor or loved one, and keep original paper documents separate, perhaps in a safe deposit box.

Here's what you'll need

Don't forget to update your file at least once a year.

Standing as a strong leader

For women in the workplace, highlighting your natural strengths is key

Whether you’ve just started your career or you’re a seasoned professional, establishing yourself as a strong leader at work can boost your ability to achieve success in the short term and advance your career over the long term. And being a leader could mean managing employees, offering direction to co-workers or cultivating an environment that fosters potential. No matter your role, play to your strengths to establish yourself as a leader, a visionary and a team player.

Art of persuasion

It goes without saying that men and women are different – and that isn’t a bad thing. Aside from the obvious biological differences, men and women have differences of attitude and behavior that can impact the way we make decisions, communicate and ultimately understand one another.

A recent study by Caliper highlighted one such difference: Female leaders were more persuasive in the workplace than their male counterparts. These same leaders are also able to use their strong communication skills to create an office atmosphere that encourages open communication and consensus among co-workers. And fostering agreement in the office can be good for many reasons, from relieving stress and creating a more relaxed atmosphere to instilling a sense of mentorship among colleagues, both novice and veteran. Since communication is often a natural strength for women, female leaders who are able to speak persuasively in the office can better encourage others to leverage their own strengths.

Creating a community

Being a strong leader also means understanding the importance of – and then working to establish – a sense of community in the workplace. Being able to communicate why an employee’s job matters to the overall success of the team is just as important as assigning the job itself. Offering understanding and respect for the roles that they each play generates a sense of pride and accountability among your teammates.

Open communication and a level of trust allow your colleagues to better appreciate those around them, regardless of whether someone is a summer intern or a manager. To practice building a community of colleagues yourself, work to establish the worth of each person’s role in the office and then capitalize on the natural feelings of mutual respect and coordination that follow.

Social capital

One of the hardest skills to master for any leader is the ability to leverage your social capital. Social capital is not how many friends you have on Facebook or connections on LinkedIn, but rather the blend of diplomacy skills, emotional intelligence and interpersonal impact that a leader has. When you tap into these skills, you’re better able to develop more trusting and meaningful relationships with colleagues, creating a supportive workplace environment and better opportunities to leverage your network of relationships to achieve positive results.

By finding ways to flex your muscles in all of these areas during the workday, you’ll be better able to lead – as well as inspire – those around you.

Material prepared by Raymond James for use by its advisors.