How big is the financial gender gap?

The annual Bank of Ireland Financial Wellbeing survey takes the nation’s financial pulse based on our saving, spending, borrowing and planning habits.

The research indicates that women claim to be less confident than men when it comes to managing money and aren’t as happy with their financial circumstances.

It also found that women are less likely to believe they are knowledgeable about financial matters.

“The principles of good financial wellbeing are the same for everyone but the obstacles are greater for women”

This year’s survey, conducted for Bank of Ireland by RED C in August, has revealed how big the gender gap is when it comes to our personal finances.

According to the research, 50pc of women said they were confident managing money compared with 56pc of men. Women reported being less satisfied with their financial situation (29pc vs 33pc) and less knowledgeable about financial matters (28pc vs 36pc).

The difference between the sexes is greatest when it comes to having the confidence to choose investments (15pc vs 27pc) or pensions (16pc vs 27pc) without the help of a financial advisor.

Where financial advice is concerned, women are more likely than men to want guidance on savings (76pc vs 66pc) and meeting financial goals (71pc vs 61pc) but they’re also more likely to think they don’t understand enough about finances to talk to a financial advisor (19pc vs 13pc).

The survey also scored respondents based on their saving, spending, borrowing and planning. The biggest gap between women and men across the four metrics was in relation to their saving (for near-term expenses and long-term goals) where women scored 49 out of 100 compared to a score of 55 for men.

Women less likely to have pensions

Not only are women less likely to have a private pension but the gap increases significantly for older age groups, separate research for Bank of Ireland shows.

Only 32pc of women aged over 55 have a private pension, compared with 58pc of men. That compares to 29pc of women aged 18-34 and 32pc of men.

Women are also much less likely to understand the tax breaks with pensions (37pc vs 51pc), the research found.

Financial wellbeing can be improved in the same way as physical health or fitness – through awareness, setting goals, and support, said Dawn Bailey, head of Financial Wellbeing at Bank of Ireland.

“Financial wellbeing is a person’s ability to confidently manage their finances and plan for the future, regardless of how much money they have. The principles of good financial wellbeing are the same for everyone but the obstacles are greater for women. On average, women live longer than men so they will need more financial resources to maintain their quality of life through retirement In addition, many of us will take several years out of the workforce to have and raise children, which reduces our lifetime earnings.”

 “And while nearly everyone has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic impact has been especially acute for women, not least because female-dominated sectors like hospitality and retail have been more severely impacted than others,” Bailey said.

To take a 2-minute online health check or learn more about everything from saving and budgeting to unclaimed tax benefits, visit

So far, more than 130,000 people have taken Bank of Ireland’s online financial health check, almost 200,000 primary and secondary school pupils have participated in free financial literacy programmes, and a dedicated team of financial wellbeing coaches have delivered almost 10,000 hours of talks to communities, colleagues and workplaces across the country.