Interview Retirement provision for couples: living together, providing for separately

Susanne Kazemieh
Susanne Kazemieh Private

The gap is shrinking, but women still earn less money on average than men, have longer time off work and have to make do with lower old-age pensions. Susanne Kazemieh does not want to accept that. She heads the women’s finance group in Hamburg and works with her clients to find clever pension strategies. Kazemieh often asks the men to pay for it. Ms. Kazemieh, German couples often approach pensions and finances together. Is that wise

SUSANNE KAZEMIEH: It’s nice when couples talk openly about money at all. Newly weds in particular tend to ignore the topic of pensions because it doesn’t fit the romantic picture at all. In many relationships, however, “tackling together” means that the man is still the most decisive. This is dangerous. Above all, women should avoid the supposedly joint life insurance policy, in which they are the sole policyholder and therefore the determiner. Otherwise you could end up with nothing.

When is the best time to talk about money?

As early as possible. When two people get to know each other, they find out if they are a good match, have hobbies in common, and so on. It is just as important to know whether the partner shares your own ideas about finance. Do both want to provide separately? Or does the man live in the idea that he is the breadwinner and that everything regulates? If the ideas don’t go together, there is a risk of an argument later.

What strategy do you recommend to couples for retirement planning?

In the best-case scenario, couples take precautions independently of one another and invest money in their own accounts or insurance. Only in this way can both realize their ideas without becoming dependent on the other. For example, if she wants to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the stock markets, but he swears by classic life insurance, both can implement their ideas autonomously. And only with contracts in your own name can you be sure that you retain constant sole power of disposal.

But doesn’t a relationship live from togetherness and responsibility for one another?

Yes, of course these are central issues. But when I give up control of my own money, I give myself up to be dependent. And at the latest when the marriage breaks up, I have a big problem. Even in a functioning marriage, it makes a difference whether I can dispose of my money autonomously or whether I have to ask my partner first.

If both partners provide for separately, how do women compensate for losses, for example during parental leave?

The women usually stay at home for a while and accept pension losses. In most cases, the parental allowance is not sufficient to continue paying private pension products, for example. Instead of making the insurance premium-free for this time, the man should bridge the time and pay it for the woman. Since both have decided in favor of the child, both have to assume the follow-up costs, regardless of the type. At this point, all young women are advised to discuss the topic of “financial fairness in a partnership” in advance of family planning. A marriage contract could provide more security here. Unfortunately, it has not yet fully reached the mindset of our society that women – just like men – have to make provisions for their retirement. And they can. At least as good as men.

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