Women are often financially responsible for both their children and aging parents and typically will need more retirement savings because statistically they live longer than men.

However, a majority of women in Iowa — 56% — said they lacked confidence that they were making wise financial decisions when planning for retirement, according to the results of a new statewide survey commissioned by the Iowa Insurance Division.

The SmartHER Money Literacy Financial Research survey, conducted by Amperage Marketing & Fundraising, polled a statistically valid sample of 383 women from a range of incomes and ages across the state about their views on financial management, insurance, retirement planning and investments.

On the positive side, Iowa women are active in daily household financial decisions and outpace the national average in participation in employee-sponsored retirement plans, such as a 401(k) or pension. Sixty-two percent of the survey respondents reported they participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, compared with a national average of 48% for all Americans, as measured by a 2017 Pew Trust study.

Among the problem areas revealed by the SmartHER survey:

-  42% of the women have saved 10% or less of their income each year for retirement, with 8% reporting that they have saved nothing.

-  52% said a common cause of stress and anxiety related to retirement planning was not being able to afford long-term care.

- Almost half of all Iowa female respondents were concerned about retirement money running out and more than half reported their household is not financially secure.

"Financial literacy is critical for women to gain financial independence and to secure a financial future," said Sonya Sellmeyer, consumer advocacy officer with the Iowa Insurance Division. "Our research study pinpointed a clear and present need for the Iowa Insurance Division to assist female Iowans who reported they want to learn more about retirement planning, investments and insurance. We want to help move more Iowa households into the realm of financial security."

The division launched the new SmartHER Money program in early 2021. The program, based on the research outcomes, strives to empower women to face their fears and anxieties about money, financial planning and investing. It also seeks to give them the knowledge needed to increase their financial literacy, set financial goals, develop a retirement plan and achieve financial wellness and security.

The Iowa Insurance Division will launch its inaugural SmartHER Money Conference in Cedar Falls on Aug. 19. More information and registration for the free event can be found at this link on the SmartHER website.