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The 10X Investments South African Retirement Reality Report 2021 (RRR21) shows that the gender gap in retirement preparedness has narrowed by at least one measure but, overall, there is nothing to celebrate, says Ishani Khoosal-Kala, 10X’s Head of Employee Benefits, Corporate Distribution.

“The odd small change in the size of the gap reflects a deterioration in the status quo for men rather than an improvement for women.”

“Things are looking uniformly bleak for both men and women on almost all measures,” she said. “The pandemic has added to an extremely challenging financial situation for many South Africans.”

It is against this backdrop that 10X Investments is offering anyone who signs up for a new 10X retirement or living annuity product in November six months of not paying fees.

The RRR21 was released in October. 10X’s fourth annual report is based on findings of the 2021 Brand Atlas Survey, which tracks the lifestyles of the universe of 15 million economically active South Africans (those living in households with a monthly income of more than R8,000). The data are weighted to reflect the profile of this universe as defined by Unisa’s Bureau of Marketing Research in their 2019 Household Income and Expenditure report. 

In the survey, 80% of men reported that they were not doing well financially or were unsure how they were doing, compared with 79% of women. Compared to last year, the deterioration for men (2020: 69%) was more severe than for women (75%). The 11-percentage point decline for men underlines the difficult economic conditions in South Africa. 

“So you see the gap is narrowing on some measures, but for the wrong reason,” said Khoosal-Kala. 

Whereas last year twice as many men as women described themselves as doing very well financially (4% compared with 2%), this year the gap has closed but only because the proportion of men declined to 2% (where it has remained for women).

Khoosal-Kala said: “The report confirms what most South Africans know: that women are worse off than their male compatriots according to almost all measures.”

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The RRR21 notes: “The gender disadvantage starts at birth, is often magnified through education and peaks during working life (more so if a woman’s career is interrupted by pregnancy and the raising of children). All these inequalities compound and carry over into retirement.”

The report points to various statistics from Statistics SA, such as girls being more likely than boys (17,1% versus 0,3%) to offer “family commitment” as a reason for not attending school, and women earning approximately 30% less than their male counterparts on average. It also notes that women have a higher life expectancy than men, meaning they require a relatively bigger retirement savings pot than their male counterparts. 

“We know that things can be especially tough for women and girls in South Africa,” said Khoosal-Kala. 

“Our society’s cracks have been very badly exposed and deepened by Covid-19, with a number of studies showing how society’s most vulnerable, women in particular, have borne the brunt of the economic pain during the past 18 months.” 

This year’s Retirement Reality Report shows that the proportion of women who say they don’t have a retirement savings plan at all continues to tick up: 54% of women this year (up from 53% last year and 51% the year before that) compared with men at 46% (up from 45% last year). 

“As South Africa recovers and rebuilds we have to find a way to narrow the gap between the genders at every stage of life. In the struggle for gender equality, it is important that we do not forget old age, when many women find themselves heavily dependent on the kindness of others, a truly disempowering way to spend your so-called ‘golden years’.”

“I wish there was something to celebrate but there is not. The truth is that this situation is not going to fix itself. We all have a part to play in resolving this crisis,” said Khoosal-Kala.

Click here to download the full 2021 Retirement Reality Report.

New retirement annuity, living annuity or preservation fund members, including those who are transferring an existing product to 10X from another provider, will not pay a management fee for six months. After six free months they will start paying 10X’s famously low fee. Apply online DM/BM


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