24 Feb 2010

Women, elderly hit hardest by financial crisis - survey

7:15 am on 24 February 2010

A survey by an Australasian financial services lobby group has found the global financial crisis has hit women and the elderly the hardest.

The Financial Services Institute of Australasia (Finsia) report found three out of five people under financial stress, with more women than men feeling under pressure.

Finsia chief executive Martin Fahy says there is a gender gap that bodes ill for women saving for their retirement.

Dr Martin Fahy says availability of childcare, paid maternity leave and flexible working practices needs to be addressed.

He says the return on investment in addressing the gender divide is huge, as increased participation by women in workforce will drive up productivity, and will also raise women's retirement savings.

Meanwhile, 38% of the 500 respondents felt slightly worse off compared to year ago due to the crisis, though 41% - those aged between 18 and 39 - felt their lifestyles hadn't been affected.

Dr Fahy says the spending culture remains hardwired in some, with 38% of respondents saying they're spending more than a year ago and 28% spending less.

He's concerned that, overall, people are not saving enough despite the advent of Kiwisaver. Future governments will need to means test the pension, he says, or lift the retirement age past 65 to ensure superannuation is sustainable.