Women are more likely than men to seek help in financial planning, according to a new survey.

The survey, by MassMutual’s Retirement Services Division, found that women are almost 25 percent more likely to already work with a financial advisor than men (11.9 percent vs. 9.6 percent) and are almost 20 percent more likely than men to seek help as a result of the recent economy (34.1 percent vs. 28.8 percent).

MassMutual conducted the online survey of more than 1,000 of its retirement plan participants between Nov. 15, 2009 and Jan. 15, 2010. Overall, 75.8 percent of participants surveyed were optimistic about the stock market, believing that performance would improve in the next 12 months compared to only 7.6 percent who think it will decline.

However, while women were just as optimistic as men relative to the market outlook, women were significantly less confident in making their own investment decisions (32.5 percent) compared to men (47.8 percent). Likewise, more men enjoy managing their investments (61.5 percent) than do women (48.1 percent). More women also prefer to spend as little time as possible on investment decisions (39.3 percent) compared to men (28 percent). While overall 70.9 percent of participants enjoy learning about investments compared to 8.2 percent who don't, a higher percentage of men (75.4 percent) enjoy learning vs. women (63.1 percent).

"Regardless of gender, being able to retire is the greatest concern among 401(k) participants (37.3 percent) – more than double the concern about health care costs (16.0 percent), job security (14.5 percent) and managing debt (12.2 percent)," said Elaine Sarsynski, executive vice president of MassMutual's Retirement Services Division and chairman and CEO of MassMutual International LLC, in a statement. "While almost nine times as many participants believe that they need to save more for retirement as don't (72.9 vs. 8.2 percent), women are more concerned that they won't have enough saved (70.3 percent) compared to men (63.2 percent)."

In terms of their approach to retirement planning in the current economy, overall 40.3 percent reported becoming more conservative, 32.9 percent became more aggressive, and 26.8 percent have not changed their approach. Men who changed their approach were fairly evenly divided between those who became more conservative (39.0 percent) and those who became more aggressive (35.3 percent).

Women were far more likely to take a more conservative approach (42.5 percent) than to be more aggressive (27.7 percent) and a review of their account balances shows this to be true. Average account balances of female participants showed far less volatility than those of men, reflecting their more conservative investment selections and indicating their actual behavior lined up with their survey responses.

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