Proposed actions from the launch of the IWF manifesto
Following the launch of the IWF manifesto, Emma Ann Hughes reveals what action has been proposed to improve women's financial futures.
Insuring Women's Futures (IWF), an initiative led by the CII, has revealed what action the profession will take to improve women's finances in the future.Insuring Women's Futures (IWF), an initiative led by the CII, has revealed what action the profession will take to improve women's finances in the future.
At the unveiling of the IWF manifesto at the BFI Imax in London in November, action being taken to equip and empower women to improve their financial futures was unveiled. This included:
- Government be lobbied for changes to auto-enrolment, pension freedoms and sharing rules to make sure the gender pay gap, motherhood, caring and relationship breakdowns do not create impoverished female pensioners in the future.
- Insurers have committed to offer flexible working and to develop inclusive practices for all consumers in a move to improve women's financial futures. Insurers have also been called upon to modernise their approach, to help better inform female customers about how their life circumstances impact on the products they buy and the service they receive.
Other recommendations outlined by the IWF initiative include:
- Equipping young women to make financially informed study choices.
- Including the employer's pension contribution in gender pay gap reporting.
- Setting out a strategic priority for financial guidance bodies to promote gender inclusive financial engagement and wellbeing approaches.
- Creating a national conversation around care including carers' pensions.
- Collecting and using gender disaggregated data to inform policy and supervision.
- Use of the themes of Insuring Women's Future's Financial Wellbeing Guide by guidance providers.
Jane Portas, author of the manifesto and co-founder of IWF, said: "Together we have the power to make practical, meaningful and lasting change. These cross-cutting recommendations present an opportunity for each and every one of us to act in the Moments that Matter and by doing so we will all benefit from change."
Yvonne Braun, director of policy, long term savings and protection at the ABI, led the IWF pensions workstream which looked for ways to remove barriers and support women's access to pensions. Ms Braun said: "We need to change pensions policy, employment laws and have a wider societal conversation. The vast majority of part time workers are women and if they earn less than £10k per year they are locked out of automatic enrolment.
"With this manifesto we are saying that the rules need to change so if you pay national insurance contributions, you also benefit from employers' contributions, pensions tax relief and have a pension of your own."
Sian Fisher, chair of IWF and CEO of the CII, said: "We know some of the issues needing to be addressed are deep-rooted and will take time to have full effect. We need to empower people to come together to talk about their financial life.
"I am pleased to see the insurance profession step up and act to help women improve their financial futures. By improving women's financial futures, we help secure everyone's financial futures."
We need to empower people to come together to talk about their financial life
At the IWF event, the Personal Finance Society (PFS) confirmed it will push for changes identified by IWF as vital to end the gender pension gap.
The measures identified by IWF as vital to make sure women do not end up poorer in retirement than their mother's and grandmother's generations included:
- Auto-enrolment earnings eligibility limits should be reduced and net pay schemes should be amended to provide tax relief for low earners.
- Shared parental leave rights and pay should be equalised. Too many women are currently suffering a pension penalty because they take on the bulk of family care.
- Spousal consent should be required in relation to defined benefit transfers, to ensure dependents are engaged in the decision.
- The law should be changed to make pensions sharing the default position. Pension scheme rules should be changed to allow an ex-spouse to continue to participate.
- To improve access to advice, the government should allow the Pensions Advice Allowance to be used for divorce.
- Pensions valuations should be simplified through standardisation and made more meaningful to support longer term decision-making.
- Employers should be required to include employer pension contributions as part of gender pay gap reporting and to disclose gender pension contribution gaps.
- Where employees are changing working arrangements, employers should have to prompt staff to consider the impact on their financial future.
The PFS will meet with government to push for the pension policy changes outlined above.
Ms Portas said: "More needs to be done to improve pensions equality: to allow all women access to pensions, to support women to attain an adequate pension reflecting their whole contribution to our society, and to allow women to enjoy fair and equal outcomes when relationships break down."
Keith Richards, CEO of the PFS, said: "Women's pensions rights need to be improved to make sure they do not end up impoverished in retirement. The Personal Finance Society is going to engage with policymakers to push for changes to auto-enrolment and pension freedom rules, to improve financial outcomes for women."
Emma Ann Hughes is communications director of the CII