Congratulations to BBC Woman’s Hour presenter Emma Barnett who has just announced that she is expecting her second child at 37 after suffering a miscarriage and after six rounds of IVF. It’s lovely to see some good news for a change after the last few weeks dominated by the leadership campaign, energy and cost of living crises, overshadowed for a short while by the death of the Queen and culminating in the threat of nukes, and the Kamikwasi budget – holy horrors!
A new baby is maybe small news in the national scheme of things, but it is a HUGE and life-altering event for the family and extended family concerned, and trust me there is nothing like having children later in life to catapult you into a different universe of newly found fears about your financial security, amongst other worries about how you and the little ones will cope when you are in your advanced years (or worse).
Now that is not to say that, at 37, Emma Barnett is old, unless you are talking about maternity or olympic gymnastics, obviously she is a young woman, especially in financial terms, with many financially productive years ahead of her. The whole landscape around reproduction continues to change with women in their twenties and thirties experiencing lower fertility levels and more turning to advancing reproductive technology such as egg-freezing and new IVF techniques. The ONF reports that the average age for women to give birth to their first child in the UK has risen to 31 and half of women have not had children by the age of 30. Interestingly, the reproductive performance of men does not seem to be put under the same scrutiny, and of course it is completely laudable and understandable for women to choose not to have children, but for those that do, the competing demands of career and family and the cost of doing the latter and even the challenge of finding a decent partner cannot be underestimated.
Anyway, back to the Fosse (the Fosse Way is the road I metaphorically tread once I get off my un-woke soapbox), it is at these moments in life – impending childbirth, or indeed any other big change of circumstance, when it is time to take stock financially. I had my first child when I was 26 and my last at 52 (no that is not a typo). Womens’ lot has changed in that time regarding maternity arrangements and childcare, but not enough. It is still extraordinarily difficult to juggle things practically and financially, and women are often the main jugglers in the family. A shocking truth is that a recent OECD study has shown that childcare in the UK is the second most expensive in the world.
When I had my first child I literally bounced back to work in the City (this was the 1980s’, you can imagine the scenario!) whilst my then husband decided to take a contract in Paris immediately the child was born – brilliant! I was saved by my mother, to whom I am eternally grateful, and the child thrived. When it came to children 4 and 5, thank goodness UK pensions had been overhauled, and had become much more flexible and, on the horizon, there were now many more options for me to explore with my pension that would give me peace of mind and a plan for my large family’s financial future; and financial security is a very good start to overall well-being. We all know about the gender pay gap, but there is another shocking narrative about the gender pension gap as well – that’s a rant for another time, but take a look at the statistics in the UK, women on average receive 35% less than men. We need to get a grip.
So my message to ladies young and not so young, with children or without is give the power of your pension the attention it deserves. Pensions are a tax-efficient savings and financial tool that can look after you and the next generation if managed properly……..and this is where Women’s Wealth can step in, what better way to entrust your financial well-being than to professional, experienced women who understand your worries and conundrums and have the expertise to help and guide you in your financial planning.
And….well done and good luck Emma – to Woman’s Hour from Women’s Wealth.
Note: gender gap in pensions calculated for persons at age of 65 and more using the following formula: women’s average pension / men’s average pension (2019).