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Women business owners more likely to offer retirement plans

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Among companies that do not have retirement plans, women business owners are discussing the issue of retirement with greater frequency than men business owners, and a greater share of these women intend to implement retirement plans soon, according to a recent report from the National Foundation for Women Business Owners.

The report also shows women business owners offer their employees a larger number of retirement plan investment options than men business owners and are more concerned with not putting their employees' investment principal at risk.

This information springs from a new study, "Retirement Plan Trends in the Small Business Market: A Survey of Women- and Men-Owned Firms," for NFWBO, sponsored by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company.

Based on interviews with 610 women- and men-owned businesses across the country, each firm employing 10 or more people, the recent study confirms other NFWBO research, showing that women entrepreneurs draw upon a wider circle of sources more regularly than men when seeking business advice and making decisions.

"Women business owners are as likely as men business owners to be concerned about retirement planning, and as likely to have a retirement plan in place," said Beverly Holmes, vice president of retirement services at Mass Mutual. "While half (51 percent) of women-owned firms currently have no retirement plan, more are discussing the issues of retirement with an adviser (43 percent of women without plans compared to 25 percent of men) and more women intend to put a plan in place for their employees (37 percent of women compared to 31 percent of men owners).

"There are some gender differences in what retirement plan characteristics are important to business owners," Holmes added. Among firms with retirement plans, women tend to offer a wider range of investment options to their employees, according to the NFWBO survey.

Nearly half (49 percent) of women business owners, compared to 41 percent of men business owners, offer their employees six or more investment options or funds to choose from in their retirement plan.

The NFWBO survey also found that women business owners place higher relative importance on not putting their employees' investments at risk. Women rated not putting investments at risk an average 8.6 on a scale of 1 to 10, compared to men, who gave it an 8.1 average ranking.

The NFWBO survey also determined that women business owners consult with a wider variety of sources more regularly than men business owners when making financial decisions. For example:

?56 percent of women entrepreneurs regularly consult with an outside accountant, compared to 47 percent of men business owners.

?48 percent of women, compared to 39 percent of men, rely on business magazines.

?45 percent of women, compared to 36 percent of men, regularly consult a company board.

?36 percent of women, compared to 29 percent of men, gain frequent input from other business owners.

Word-of-mouth referrals are the primary source of financial advisers for both women and men business owners, but women business owners are more likely to find their financial consultants through a recommendation from another business adviser than are men business owners. Sixteen percent of women business owners, compared to 9 percent of men business owners, found their current financial adviser through recommendations from another business adviser.

"The ways in which women business owners are making decisions about retirement benefits for themselves and their employees are consistent with other

NFWBO research," said Lois E. Haber, CLU, ChFC, chair of NFWBO, and president and chief executive officer of Delaware Valley Financial Services Inc. in Berwyn, Pa.

"Our research documents that women entrepreneurs place value on both relationships and factual information, are more likely than men entrepreneurs to seek out the opinions of others and are more reflective than their male counterparts when making decisions."

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A new study shows women entrepreneurs draw upon a wider circle of sources in seeking business advice and making decisions.[[In-content Ad]]

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