An analysis of early superannuation release applications by AMP clients has shown that women are withdrawing a greater proportion of their super balance, with a higher proportion compared to men clearing out their accounts.
Despite women’s withdrawal amounts being less than men, AMP has found that on average they’re withdrawing 21 per cent of their starting super balances, compared to 17 per cent for men.
Around 14 per cent of women have been seen to be clearing out their entire super balance as a result of their withdrawals, compared to 12 per cent of men.
Men on average were reported to have 29 per cent higher superannuation balances than their female counterparts following the withdrawals, increasing from 25 per cent before.
APRA data recorded that AMP’s Superannuation Savings Trust was among the 10 funds that have the greatest total for early release payments, having paid out $381 million as at 17 May.
The group’s Retirement Trust gave members access to $91.4 million, whereas clients withdrew $11.3 million from the AMP Eligible Rollover Fund.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 325,000 women became unemployed in April, representing 55 per cent of all jobs lost in Australia, while female work hours were reduced by 11.5 per cent, compared to a 7.5 per cent reduction in male hours.
Lara Bourguignon, AMP managing director of superannuation, retirement and platforms said the early release analysis reflected the greater impact the pandemic is having on female employment.
“Seventy per cent of workers in the health and social sectors are also women. These are lower-income occupations which are at the front of the fight against COVID-19,” Ms Bourguignon said.
“Cleaners, teachers, childcare and aged care workers are predominantly women.
“We also know that more women have lost their jobs or had their work hours reduced as a result of COVID-19. They are doing it particularly tough at the moment and the early release scheme has been a vitally important initiative to help manage through the crisis.”
She added women are already behind men across financial measures such as longer-term savings, retiring with 31 per cent less at retirement.
“It will be a while before the full impacts of COVID-19 on women’s finances are known, but as an industry we need to support women navigating the implications of early release, help them protect their wealth, and rebuild as the economy recovers,” Ms Bourguignon said.
AMP has pointed towards other potential strategies for women to take control, such as using other government assistance measures, employing the low-income super tax offset, spouse super contributions and making additional super payments.
Sarah Simpkins is a journalist at Momentum Media, reporting primarily on banking, financial services and wealth.
Prior to joining the team in 2018, Sarah worked in trade media and produced stories for a current affairs program on community radio.
You can contact her on [email protected].