Employers should be concerned about their female employees’ confidence in their retirement savings, says Cathy Weatherford, president and CEO of the Insured Retirement Institute. At a Capitol Hill event Wednesday in Washington, congressmen, financial and benefit advisers and industry advocates came together to discuss the future for women when it comes to retirement security.

See related: Benefit plans should consider employee concerns and preferences

Weatherford told EBA following the program that incentivizing all employees, but especially women, should be a key talking point advisers bring to employer clients when discussing financial wellness. Whether it’s providing food at a retirement savings seminar or gift cards for completing online trainings, these tactics work to make all employees show up to hear retirement advice they need.

Speaking at the event, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wisc.) said the biggest takeaway from IRI research released that day is that only three in 10 financial advisers are women. “These women going to college aren’t going into financial services, financial investment fields,” she told the audience. “Women are more likely to want advice from women. So we have a real challenge.”

While Weatherford later said there’s no direct correlation between women saving for retirement and the number of female advisers in the field, there are statistics that show it helps. For example, most widows switch advisers within a few years of their spouses’ death because they want to go to a woman who understands their issues, according to Cindy Hounsell, president of Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) and panelist.

The research released in conjunction with the event shows only 30% of baby boomer women and 13% of Gen X women have “high levels of confidence in accumulating sufficient savings to live comfortably throughout their retirement years.” Additionally, one in five of boomer women and 35% of Gen X women have no savings at all.

While IRI provided research on the realities of women’s retirement savings and confidence, Katie Libbe of Allianz Life Insurance noted that women are gaining a sense of increased empowerment in household finances. “There’s a little piece of optimism and it’s the rising empowerment of women,” she says, adding that 60% consider themselves the primary breadwinner, 49% have a great deal of responsibility for investment decisions, 57% handle major investments and 59% teach children about money.

There’s still work to be done to bring empowerment into action. “Financial education and financial advice can help women,” Weatherford said. And “financial advisers help create a framework” both inside and outside the workplace, she said.

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