Women’s confidence that they can successfully retire has taken a hit in the past two years, but working with a financial adviser tends to boost female investors’ outlook on their future, according to a recent Prudential Financial study.

The study entitled “Financial Experience and Behaviors Among Women” found that the so-called confidence gap, or the difference between the goals women set and their belief that they can achieve them, rose to 69 points from 62 points in 2008, when the survey was last conducted.

That comes as 53% of the women surveyed indicated they are the primary breadwinner of their household, either because they contribute more than partners or spouses or because they are they are single. About one-third of the breadwinners who earn more than their spouses said that the economic downturn forced them into that role.

But those women who are serving in the breadwinner role still expressed a lack of confidence when it comes to investing. Those breadwinners were less likely to say they are the primary financial decision maker in their household, and also feel less prepared to make financial decisions in comparison to men.

Working with a financial adviser can help women turn around that crisis of confidence, Prudential’s study found.

The women surveyed who are working with financial advisers expressed more confidence that they can successfully retire, will not run out of savings and can maintain the standard of living they desire.

Both financial services companies and advisers can do more to help women, to understand different financial products, the survey also found.

Many of the female breadwinners surveyed indicated they have a lack of knowledge in this area. Products female breadwinners said they did not know “too well” include long-term care, with 35% of respondents; annuities, 34%; stocks and bonds, 33%; estate plans, 32%; mutual funds, 29%; and IRAs, 26%.

Products female breadwinners said they did not know “at all” include annuities, with 21% of respondents; mutual funds, 15%; estate plans, 14%; stocks and bonds, 12%; long-term care, 9% and IRAs, 8%.

Lorie Konish is managing editor of On Wall Street, a SourceMedia publication.

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