According to a newly released study conducted by Prudential Financial women’s understanding and role in making financial decisions continues to expand.

Vivian Banta, vice chairman of Pru’s insurance division, commented on the results of the second Study on the Financial Experience and Behaviors Among Women at a luncheon in New York today. The first study was conducted in 2000.

The survey polled 400 women between the ages of 37 and 56 and found that since 2000 a larger percentage of women were solely or jointly responsible for various financial vehicles, to wit,

  • 66 percent owned an IRA, up from 61 percent from 2000;

  • 63 percent were enrolled in 401(k)s, up from 59 percent in 2000;

  • Joint or sole ownership of long term care insurance was up to 66 percent from 60 percent in 2000.

Retirement issues were particularly important to respondents. Statistically, women outlive men by seven years and, accordingly, have lengthier income needs. According to Banta:

  • 75 percent of nursing home occupants are female;

  • 97 percent of women recognized the importance of retirement planning; *However, only 25 percent of the women responded that they had a solid grasp of the amount of money needed to provide a secure retirement;

  • Another 58 percent responded that they were "somewhat" aware of the amount they needed.

And while a majority of respondents felt that wealth transfer and life insurance were important few had plans in place.

  • Only 14 percent had done any detailed financial planning and 13 percent had long term care insurance;

  • Only 24 percent said they understood estate plans, wills or trusts.

"There’s a gap between knowledge and action," said Banta, who went on to stress the need for advisors to help educate their clients. "We want to empower women through education."