Small Business Owners Underprepared for Retirement

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Female business owners are especially vulnerable

Small business owners are overwhelmingly concerned about retirement, but have done little to prepare for it. A third of female owners and a quarter of male owners say they haven’t estimated how much they’ll need, according to a study released Feb. 24 by The American College.

While this suggests that small business owners are likely underprepared for retirement, additional findings indicate the quality of preparation that has been undertaken is low. According to the study, “Financial Goals, Concerns and Actions of Women Business Owners,” two-thirds of women and 70% of men said they’ve estimated their retirement needs, but only half have done so with a financial advisor’s guidance. One-quarter used an online calculator, but The American College noted those tools have “serious limitations” in their ability to accurately estimate future changes in inflation, taxes, medical expenses and income streams.

“The lack of retirement planning by so many people is stunning, especially since business owners have no one else to rely on when it comes to putting their retirement plans in place,” Mary Quist-Newins, director of the State Farm Center for Women and Financial Services at The American College and co-author of the report, said in a statement. “When you consider that the mean age of our respondents is just over 50 you have to wonder, ‘What are these individuals waiting for?’ Retirement will be upon them before they know it. Small business owners need to start preparing for retirement now.”

Whether a small business owner has estimated his retirement goals or not, most owners don’t have a formal plan in place, The American College found. Just 10% of women and 20% of men say they have a written plan for transitioning their business when they retire.

A little more than one-third of respondents consider their financial planning needs “complex,” an attitude that The American College says shows a “potentially dangerous tendency to oversimplify” complicated financial issues including the impact of inflation, medical expenses, longevity, asset management, accumulation and distribution of income, long-term care and tax management.

The report found that when it comes to working with an advisor, small business owners show a bias to working with one of their own gender. This presents a problem for women, as just 20%-33% of financial advisors are women, according to The American College.

“The industry needs to continue to focus on recruiting and developing more qualified financial professionals who happen to be female, in an effort to capture the rising premium and asset dollars women business owners represent,” Quist-Newins wrote in the report.

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