On Thursday 26thApril we had a wonderful afternoon with Zurich Insurance Group in Zurich, Switzerland exploring women’s risks and their financial resilience. The afternoon was prompted by a report the IWF released earlier in the year “Securing the financial future of the next generation

Alison Martin, Group Chief Risk Officer of Zurich Insurance Group and ISC Ambassador, opened the afternoon session with a short macro overview of where we are today and put the session in context. She explained that there is “soon to be more people over 65 than under 5” putting unimaginable strain on our existing workforce. In addition to this, Alison also referred to a recent study by Oxford University in 11 different countries that found 6/10 people would not know how to finance themselves if they lost their job.

Jane Portas, Partner at PWC and ISC Management Committee Member, then took the audience on a journey, the life cycle of a female in today’s society and identified the 12 perils and pitfalls they face:

Domestic abuse danger

Women’s wellness threat

Female financial capability imperative

Girls’ apprenticeship gap

Young women’s graduation burden

Gender pay gap

Cohabitation pitfall

Divorce and separation setback

Motherhood and caring penalty

Flexible working sacrifice

Women’s pension deficit

Longevity trap

and the 6 #momentsthatmatter where we can intervene to reduce risk and improve resilience:

Growing up, studying and requalifying

Entering and re-entering the workplace

Relationships: making up and breaking up

Motherhood and becoming a carer

Later life, planning and entering retirement

Ill-health, infirmity and dying.


A couple of examples include:

61% of women opt for part time jobs after having children but do so at 30% less per hour than full time women.

Median pension wealth for married men and women is £53,000 and £10,000 respectively.  Median pension wealth for divorced men and women is £30,000 and £9,000 respectively (separated £12,000 and £0).

71% of divorced women did not discuss their pension during divorce proceedings, leaving women missing out on £5bn every year.



Jane then proposed three questions to the audience to which they spent time discussing in  smaller groups.


Here are some of the key findings:

What do the findings mean for women and what can we all do personally to improve women’s risks and financial resilience?

Improving transparency, starting with family life and at school. It is striking that the gender pay gap starts at apprentice level, so we need to review that we are saying at home and in school and encourage women to go into more lucrative professions early on.

We need to encourage girls to be more assertive and to not feel bad in negotiations. This will then train them to behave in this way when they get into the work place.

The facts are overwhelming. We need to keep the dialogue going and raise awareness as this will have the biggest impact in the short term.


How can employers act to improve women’s risk and financial resilience?

Are we, within our own organisations, speaking enough to each other about difficult moments in our life, especially around divorce, illness, parenting and caring? Do you have someone to speak to or somewhere to go? Are we friendly enough towards women when we give advice? Consider the implementation of a confidential advisor, especially from a financial point of view.

Utilising the data that is held by our organisations to fuel benefits programmes, education, building reassurance and confidence in the system and changing the way we talk, both as an employer and as an industry.

Corporates should consider identifying, on an end of year payslip, the services an individual should consider enrolling in that they haven’t already, e.g. increasing their pension contribution. Consider “fun” financial planning workshops to engage more people.

Improve flexible working for men as well as women.

More females in senior positions will undoubtedly help.


What interventions can we make as a profession to improve women’s risk resilience and close the protection gap?

Creating an app that you can have with you at all times that identifies the risks your peers are facing and showcases the services on the market that could help reduce them. An individual could then refer back to the app when they are having children, divorcing, caring etc for the same purpose. The app could also simulate scenarios, for example if I did this I would be better off in this way.

How can we make products that really speak more to families and women, and make them simpler because we are all time poor? How do we change existing products to make them more suitable to the modern life style e.g. joint no claims bonus?

Why are we not courageous enough to discuss an all-female brokerage, with all-female products, all-female advisors and with all-female customers in the Lloyds market? Not identifying it in terms of longevity, but to initiate and drive the right momentum. They did this in Abu Dhabi and it proved very successful.

Improve pension alignment, especially cross border.

Tax benefits for pension savings.



Barbara Schönhofer, Founder of The Insurance Supper Club, then concluded the session by reiterating “If not now, when? You’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t, so you may as well be damned!”


We thought the session was very stimulating, so thank you to all those that participated.


If you have any more ideas on how we can improve financial resilience and reduce women’s risks in life, please do let us know. Alternatively, if your organisation is already implementing policies around this, please share your experiences with us. We need your help.


Our thanks are also extended to Zurich Insurance Group for sponsoring the event, Alison Martin for hosting, Jane Portas for presenting and to all of our moderators who led the discussions.


#momentsthatmatter #ISCSwitzerland


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