Will We Ever Close the Gender Gap?

Every year, the World Economic Forum updates its Global Gender Gap Report, which measures gender disparity across 144 countries and tracks this progress over time. The report pays special attention to the gaps between women and men with regard to health, education, economy and politics.1

Although the corporate “glass ceiling” has been broken by a growing number of women, the 2016 gender gap report shows that progress is slowing down for working women both in North America and Europe, while the Middle East and North Africa regions showed the most improvement.2 The report projects that:

  •         Western Europe will close the economic gender gap in 47 years
  •          Latin American and the Caribbean are on tap to close the gap in 61 years
  •          South Asia may not reach parity for another 1,000 years
  •          North America has been moving backward since 20063
  •          At the current pace, it will take approximately 158 years to achieve gender equity in America4

One of the high-growth industries that lacks female participation is technology. Although women comprise about half of the U.S. workforce, they account for less than a third of employees at technology companies. 5

For decades, educators have tried to reverse this trend. In fact, the number of women studying computer science in college rose to 37 percent in the 1980s, but that number began declining in 1985, and in 2013, women accounted for only 18 percent of bachelor’s degrees in computing. Further, after gaining employment in the field, more women than men are likely to leave. One reason for that is they feel isolated and don’t have the support networks that men have.6

Even Melinda Gates, wife and former Microsoft colleague of Bill Gates, has admitted that early on in her career she had doubts about continuing to work in the tech environment day in and day out — observing, “I felt like I had to be argumentative all the time.” It’s not that she couldn’t do the work, but the caustic nature didn’t suit her personality, and she felt there were better ways of getting the work done.7

According to the 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study, 51 percent of women in the cybersecurity industry say they’ve experienced some form of discrimination at work, while only 15 percent of men experienced discrimination. The women surveyed reported unconscious bias (87 percent), tokenism (22 percent) and outright discrimination (19 percent).8

Gender discrimination doesn’t harm just women; it’s also bad for business. According to a study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, having more women in top-level positions correlates with increased profitability. However, the research finds no evidence that, by itself, having a female CEO is related to increased profitability. Stephen R. Howe Jr., U.S. chairman of the study’s sponsor, EY, remarked, “The impact of having more women in senior leadership on net margin, when a third of companies studies do not, begs the question of what the global economic impact would be if more women rose in the ranks.” 9

We also are potentially losing out on scientific discoveries and innovations. An academic publisher, Elsevier, conducted a study that found that less than 25 percent of research papers on subjects related to the physical sciences were published by women. It’s possible that we are failing to take full advantage of the scientific brainpower of half of the world’s population.10

All of this underlies the necessity for women to have a separate and distinct retirement income plan, even if they are married. With more time out of the workforce, less pay and less opportunity to save and invest for the future, women need to plan for multiple sources of retirement income that are not dependent on spousal benefits.11 We can help you develop strategies through the use of insurance products for retirement income, both as a couple and with either spouse as a survivor. Please feel free to contact us to discuss how we can help.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications

1World Economic Forum. 2016. “The Global Gender Gap Report.” https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-gender-gap-report-2016. Accessed March 30, 2017.

2Till Leopold and Vesselina Stefanova Ratcheva. World Economic Forum. Oct. 28, 2016. “5 Surprising Facts From This Year’s Gender Gap Report.” https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/10/5-surprising-facts-from-this-years-gender-gap-report/. Accessed March 21, 2017.


4Priya Jain. The Huffington Post. March 20, 2017. “Gender Diversity: Are We Asking the Right Questions?” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/gender-diversity-are-we-asking-the-right-questions_us_58d02650e4b0537abd95737f. Accessed March 21, 2017.

5Antonia Cereijido and Alina Selyukh. NPR. Dec. 21, 2016. “Why Aren’t There More Women in Tech? A Tour of Silicon Valley’s Leaky Pipeline.” http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/12/21/505864391/why-arent-there-more-women-in-tech-a-tour-of-silicon-valleys-leaky-pipeline. Accessed March 21, 2017.

6Erik Sherman. Fortune. March 26, 2015. “Report: Disturbing Drop in Women in Computing Field.” http://fortune.com/2015/03/26/report-the-number-of-women-entering-computing-took-a-nosedive/. Accessed March 31, 2017.

7Gillian B. White. The Atlantic. March 16, 2017. “Melinda Gates: The Tech Industry Needs to Fix Its Gender Problem — Now.” https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/03/melinda-gates-tech/519762/. Accessed March 21, 2017.

8Tamara Chuang. The Denver Post. March 19, 2017. “Cybersecurity Industry Hopes Women Will Help Fill 1.8 Million Jobs.” http://www.denverpost.com/2017/03/19/cybersecurity-industry-hopes-women-will-help-fill-1-million-jobs/. Accessed March 21, 2017.

9Erik Sherman. Peterson Institute for International Economics. Feb. 8, 2016. “New Peterson Institute Research on Over 21,000 Companies Globally Finds Women in Corporate Leadership Can Significantly Increase Profitability.” https://piie.com/newsroom/press-releases/new-peterson-institute-research-over-21000-companies-globally-finds-women. Accessed March 31, 2017.

10The Economist. March 10, 2017. “The Gender Gap in Science.” http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2017/03/daily-chart-5?fsrc=scn/tw/te/bl/ed/. Accessed March 14, 2017.


11Kerry Hannon. The New York Times. March 3, 2017. “Money Worries for Retired Women.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/03/business/retirement/money-worries-for-retired-women.html?_r=0. Accessed April 11, 2017.

Work Less, Spend Less: How Retiring Boomers may Impact the Economy

The economy has grown, in large part, because consumers are spending more money. It remains to be seen whether that trend will continue as more of the massive baby boomer generation approaches retirement.

Even before people retire, many tend to slow down their spending habits. Part of this is lifestyle driven; by age 50, most consumers have bought a home, furnished it, sent their kids off to college and are reining in their household budget.1

If this sounds familiar to your situation, it’s a good time to take a look at your retirement income plan. We can create a strategy through the use of insurance products that can help you work toward your retirement income goals, and the sooner you start saving for retirement, the better.  

The highest years for earning often come just before retirement but that’s also the time with the least amount of growth in income. According to studies conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, young adults see the fastest income increases. Those increases slow mid-career, and by the time we’re in our 50s, our hard-earned salaries could represent negative real wage growth.2

Given little to negligible income increases during the latter stages of a career, it is more likely older workers are saving their money for retirement — not pouring it back into the economy. Recent research revealed that 80 percent of baby boomers are cutting back on how much money they spend. Among them:3

·         54% reduced discretionary expenses

·         47% reduced recurring monthly expenses

·         35% have created and maintain a household budget

The Congressional Budget Office reports that once the majority of baby boomers retire, government spending as a percentage of GDP will likely increase by another 9 percent due to the jump in entitlement benefits.4

Not only will baby boomers likely be spending less as they age, many will continue to work. However, the mix of jobs available to older workers is changing as well. Over the past 26 years, 30 percent of manufacturing jobs have been eliminated, while service-oriented jobs in the education and health care fields have doubled.5

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show the average age of blue-collar workers is climbing upward. The median age for a construction worker was 42.7 in 2016 — just one of the many occupations that would be difficult to continue past a certain age.6

The good news is the health sector is growing, which is good timing as more baby boomers begin seeking personal care aides, registered nurses and home health aides.7

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications

1 David Ader. Wealth Management. Feb. 1, 2017. “Will Retired Boomers Kill the Economy?” http://www.wealthmanagement.com/retirement-planning/will-retired-boomers-kill-economy. Accessed Feb. 28, 2017.

2 Robert Rich, Joseph Tracy and Ellen Fu. Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Sept. 28, 2017. “U.S. Real Wage Growth: Slowing Down with Age.” http://libertystreeteconomics.newyorkfed.org/2016/09/us-real-wage-growth-slowing-down-with-age.html. Accessed Feb. 28, 2017.

3 Javier Simon. PlanSponsor. Feb. 27, 2017. “Baby Boomers Adjusted Retirement Expectations Post Recession.” http://plansponsor.com/Baby-Boomers-Adjusted-Retirement-Expectations-Post-Recession/. Accessed Feb. 28, 2017.

4 Knowledge@Wharton. Feb. 23, 2017. “What’s Holding Back U.S. Economic Growth?” http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/whats-holding-back-u-s-economic-growth/. Accessed Feb. 28, 2017.

5 Neil Howe. Forbes. Feb. 28, 2017. “The Spread of the Pink-Collar Economy.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/neilhowe/2017/02/28/the-spread-of-the-pink-collar-economy/print/. Accessed Feb. 28, 2017.

6 Ibid.

7 Ibid.


We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

A 100-Year Lifespan: Ways to Help Increase Enjoyment

The average life expectancy of a baby born in the U.S. today is 80 years. However, this prediction assumes prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of birth stay the same throughout a person’s life.1

In reality, patterns of mortality improve over time thanks to discoveries and innovations in nutrition and medical science. If you extrapolate the data to represent the same pace of mortality improvement in the future, people up to age 30 today can reasonably expect to live to an average age of 100.2

However, just as important as how long you live is how well you live. Below are some ideas on steps you can take to help ensure you enjoy your retirement years.  

One way to prepare for an active retirement is to engage in work-life balance early in life. Many people work long hours and don’t take enough vacation time. Over time, this can lead to mental and physical exhaustion. If we don’t take care of ourselves when we’re younger, we have less chance of enjoying a higher quality of life when we’re older.

Or, consider your perspective – are you pursuing your own happiness or trying to find meaning in life? Studies have demonstrated that the pursuit of happiness may not be as good for our well-being as the pursuit of a more meaningful life. In other words, being directed and motivated by valued life goals, which often can take more effort and cause more stress, may be more rewarding. To illustrate, consider the rewards of raising children versus embarking on a series of exotic vacations. Researchers have found that, over the long term, people who pursued more meaning and purpose were more deeply satisfied than those chasing temporary happiness.3

Another study even found a correlation between greater engagement in day-to-day life with a higher degree of financial success, possibly because this type of person tends to place a high value on pursuing long-term goals.4

Exercise is also key. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 32 percent of older adults do not engage in any physical exercise. Understandably, people who don’t prioritize exercise when they’re younger are not likely do so in retirement, so it’s important to make it a habit early on.5

It’s also important to choose activities you can continue as you age. Classes growing in popularity among the over-50 set include dance, strength training, gentle yoga, “gentle stretch,” “Pilates fusion,” ballet barre and tai chi. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, programs for older adults are among the top 20 fitness trends for 2017.6

Retirees may be familiar with the SilverSneakers program, celebrating its 25th anniversary. The program is free for adults over age 65 who are covered by Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement and many other plans.7

 In addition to things you should do to enrich a 100-year life, there are things that would make it less enjoyable. One of those things is dementia. While there are many risk factors for dementia, including age, alcohol use, smoking, diabetes, hypertension and genetics, a recent study discovered a few other common triggers that can increase the risk of cognitive decline:8

  • Taking anticholinergic drugs, which includes over-the-counter sleep aids, sedating allergy meds (e.g., Benadryl), sedating pain meds (e.g., Tylenol PM) and prescription meds such as some antidepressants and urinary incontinence treatments. The study also found that once people stop taking these meds, their risk dropped back to normal levels.
  • Lack of vitamin D
  • Heartburn medications with proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as Prilosec and Prevacid (complete list here)

We can help you prepare for longer life expectancies by utilizing insurance products within your overall retirement income strategy. Please feel free to contact us to discuss how we can help.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications

1 Peter Vanham. World Economic Forum. Sept. 15, 2016. “You’ll Probably Live to Be 100. Here’s How You Need To Prepare For It.” https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/09/you-ll-probably-live-to-be-100-here-s-how-you-need-to-prepare-for-it/. Accessed March 3, 2017.

2 Ibid.

3 Emily Esfahani Smith and Jennifer Aaker. New York Magazine. Dec. 30, 2016. “In 2017, Pursue Meaning Instead of Happiness.” http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/12/in-2017-pursue-meaning-instead-of-happiness.html. Accessed March 3, 2017.

4 Drake Baer. New York Magazine. Jan. 4, 2017. “Living with Purpose Yields a Longer Life and Higher Income.” http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2017/01/living-with-purpose-yields-a-longer-life-and-higher-income.html. Accessed March 3, 2017.

5 Lynn Langway. Next Avenue. Jan. 30, 2017. “Boomers Took Fitness and Made It Their Own.” http://www.nextavenue.org/boomers-fitness-trends/. Accessed March 3, 2017.

6 Ibid.

7 Ibid.

8 Beth Levine. Next Avenue. May 25, 2016. “3 Surprising Things That Raise Your Dementia Risk.” http://www.nextavenue.org/3-surprising-things-raise-dementia-risk/. Accessed March 3, 2017.


We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

The Power of Mindfulness

It seems everywhere you turn these days, from news shows to news articles to local advertisements, there’s this idea of promoting “mindfulness” in our day-to-day lives. Mindfulness is generally accepted as focusing one’s mental state on the present moment, being completely aware of all elements around us.

Some financial professionals have expanded this idea of mindfulness to financial management. In an effort to help achieve this, some people practice a no-spending day, no-spending week or no-spending month. By avoiding expenses at all costs, we are forced to assess if and why we need to make certain purchases.1 For example, if you go into a store for one item, you shouldn’t leave with six more. Likewise, you might find you end up consuming all of the canned foods in your pantry before you feel the need to buy more.

Recognizing the difference between wants and needs is probably the biggest benefit to conducting a no-spend day.2 It’s also a good way to allocate your retirement income streams to help ensure your money doesn’t run out. In other words, you could designate steady and reliable income streams (such as Social Security, a pension or an annuity) for necessities such as food and utilities in retirement, while any other variable income can be used to pay for occasional indulgences.

There’s a growing body of research that supports this idea that mindfulness-focused activities, such as meditation and yoga, can help decrease anxiety, depression, stress and pain, as well as help improve general health, mental health and quality of life. In fact, one study concluded that the impact of ongoing mindfulness activities was both significant and long term compared to taking a short-term vacation which, at the outset, was very successful at relieving stress.3

Neuroscience studies also have correlated the impact of aerobic exercise on cognitive clarity. In fact, vigorous exercise has been identified as the only known trigger to create new neurons in the brain. These newly produced neurons appear in parts of the brain associated with learning, memory, concentration and time management.4

When comparing brain scans of young-adult cross-country runners to young adults who don’t engage in regular physical activity, scientists found that overall, the runners demonstrated greater functional connectivity for activities such as planning and decision-making.5

On the surface, it may seem that the older we get, the less sharp our minds become. But alas, there also are studies that demonstrate more mature minds benefit from “crystallized intelligence.” This represents the knowledge and data that we have accumulated over decades of work and life experience. Older workers in particular can counteract age-related cognitive lag by relying on this foundation of experience to troubleshoot problems and innovate new solutions on the job.6

Some educators believe that the medical profession should take this new focus on mindfulness into consideration, not just as a means to help patients cope with health conditions but also to help physicians become better at their jobs.

Doctors are sometimes guilty of taking a set of symptoms at face value and settling on an incorrect diagnosis because they are not tuned in to other symptoms or patient data that may have bearing. Medicine is an inexact science that takes years of experience to become adept at recognizing a wide array of conditions, yet it is equally important not to let that experience and confidence close the mind to other possibilities.

This is where the practice of mindfulness can help physicians become more attuned to each patient’s full array of symptoms and their own biases. To date, some experts believe a missing ingredient in medical education and medical practice are courses or workshops that teach physicians the practice and impact of mindfulness.7 This has become even more critical now that health care delivery has become more of a volume and administrative business with less time spent with patients.

Are you practicing mindfulness in the various areas of your life? Please give us a call if we can help you be more mindful of your current financial situation and long-term retirement income goals.

1 Maggie McGrath. Forbes. March 8, 2016. “Turbo-Charge Your Finances with the Power of Mindful Spending.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/maggiemcgrath/2016/03/08/turbo-charge-your-finances-with-the-power-of-mindful-spending/#2eba22013796. Accessed Feb. 21, 2017.

2 Ibid.

3 Monique Tello. Harvard Health Publications. Oct. 27, 2016. “Regular meditation more beneficial than vacation.” http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/relaxation-benefits-meditation-stronger-relaxation-benefits-taking-vacation-2016102710532. Accessed Feb. 21, 2017.

4 Melissa Dahl. New York Magazine. April 21, 2016. “How Neuroscientists Explain the Mind-Clearing Magic of Running.” http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/04/how-neuroscientists-explain-the-mind-clearing-magic-of-running.html. Accessed Feb. 21, 2017.

5 Alexis Blue. World Economic Forum. Dec. 19, 2016. “Want to give your brain a boost? Running may be the answer.” https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/12/running-isnt-just-good-for-your-fitness-it-could-give-your-brain-a-boost. Accessed Feb. 21, 2017.

6 Kim Blanton. Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Dec. 8, 2016. “Inside the Minds of Older Workers.” http://squaredawayblog.bc.edu/squared-away/inside-the-minds-of-older-workers/. Accessed Feb. 21, 2017.

7 Knowledge@Wharton. Feb. 16, 2017. “How Mindfulness Can Lead to Better Health Care Outcomes.” http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/how-mindfulness-can-lead-to-better-health-care-outcomes/. Accessed Feb. 21, 2017.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.


The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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