Businesswomen fail to focus on own futures

MORE than one fifth of Australian women who own their own small business are not a member of any superannuation fund, a report says.

MORE than one fifth of Australian women who own their own small business are not a member of any superannuation fund, a report says.

Research commissioned by Westpac also revealed the low take up and continuation of superannuation by female small business owners, with 53 per cent not sorting out a plan for retirement.

Most small businesses are required to pay at least the minimum 9 per cent amount of the earnings base to employees for superannuation, but are not required to make any sort of payment towards their own super.

"We're all going to need a lot more money because we're living longer. We need to fund that period of time and the pension is not going to be able to give us the things we want," said Larke Riemer, director of women's markets at Westpac.

The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia recommends that to retire comfortably single women need just more than $40,000 a year, and for couples around $55,000 per year.

The government offers significant tax breaks for business owners who contribute towards their superannuation.

A full tax deduction for all pre-tax contributions is available up to $25,000.

For business owners over 50, this deduction is up to $50,000 until the end of this financial year.

This incentive of keeping tax payments lower and increasing the amount of money small business owners will have for retirement is something that needs to be taken advantage of more, especially by women who have significantly less super than men, Ms Riemer said.

"The amount of super women have in their super fund for retirement is about half that of men, some with very small amounts. The average female's super fund sits at $150,000 and in some cases it's much lower than that," she said.

While there are more men who are running their own business, women are catching up, starting a small business at twice the rate of men. In NSW women make up about one-third of the 650,000 small businesses in the state, according to the NSW Department of Trade and Investment.

"More woman than ever are leaving the corporate world, for whatever reason - to have children, flexibility or they just feel like having more control of their lives, so they are starting up these businesses but they are not thinking about their superannuation," Ms Riemer said.

In many cases small business owners believed their business was their superannuation.

"They'll build these amazing profitable businesses and then once they retire they'll be OK and in a lot of cases they don't have a succession plan in place," she said. "In some instances they walk away from the business altogether."

With the research stating 42 per cent of respondents wished they had managed their super differently, Ms Riemer recommended small business owners start planning early.

"You cannot not put yourself first - you still need to think about yourself, your assets and your family," she said.

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