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Providers Use Education To Target Women

Several firms have started targeting women in their education programs. Lincoln Financial Group is doing so through its LifeSpan program.

Several firms have started targeting women in their education programs. Lincoln Financial Group is doing so through its LifeSpan program. Johanna Egas-Dy, a retirement consultant, said the firm holds meetings specifically geared to women.

Transamerica Retirement Solutions is planning to publish an updated version of "Six Tips Every Woman Should Know." It will include statistics that will investigate the differences between single and married women. "We are trying to attract that market," said Catherine Collinson, senior v.p. of strategic planning.

Nationwide Retirement Solutions and Financial Finesse are targeting women with specialized campaigns. Nationwide spokeswoman Hillary Jeffers said the firm has developed workshops it suggests to clients. "A study conducted by the Nationwide Education Institute found the average male participant has approximately $34,000 in his retirement plan, while the average female only has $24,000. So there is a huge need to try to fill this gap," she said. "It's easy to treat participants as the same, but unfortunately that's not the case."

Liz Davidson, ceo of Financial Finesse, said the education provider has a 1-800 number female participants can call. She said Financial Finesse is planning to expand the topics in its workshop meetings and the phone service. "We want these services to be a coach to these women," she said, adding that women tend to prefer services that are personable. "Lets face it--women are more comfortable asking for help."

Steve Charlton, managing partner at New England Pension Consultants, said he sees more providers delivering education campaigns specifically designed for a female audience. He said firms such as Financial Engines and Morningstar are getting in the game to provide the data needed for providers to develop specific advice or managed account programs. "Most of these education campaigns and services require a lot of information that has to be processed."

Other firms such as Fidelity Investments, Charles Schwab Corporate Services, CitiStreet, Principal Financial Group and Putnam Investments see their communications efforts as a better fit if it is targeted at both sexes. Elaine Sullivan, managing director of retirement marketing at Putnam, said that strategy has a broader reach. "I think it is more important to focus on the overall plan design." Doug Grove, v.p. of retirement and investor services at Principal, said it is more important to look at age and lifestyles than gender.

Richard Glass, president of Investment Horizons, said he hasn't seen the issue high on many top firms' lists. He said cost is the main deterrent. "But there could be a big opportunity for financial planners here," he said.

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