The number of women who are now adequately preparing for retirement has risen drastically from a record low just 12 months ago.

According to Scottish Widows, the proportion of women now saving adequately for retirement has risen to a four-year high.

In the first increase recorded since 2011, the figure grew from 40% to 50% this year – highlighting that more women than ever before are giving some thought to their futures.

New pension regulations and the introduction of automatic enrolment are credited with having an impact on this growth.

Preparing for the future

The gap between men and women is also closing, as a 9% gap in 2013 has been closed to 5% this year – 55% of men compared to 50% of women are adequately prepared for retirement.

Women aged between 50 and 64 are keeping up with men when it comes to adequately preparing – as 60% and 62% are putting money aside respectively.

Given that this is the age range directly before retirement, it is understandable that more funds are being set aside.

For the purposes of the study, saving adequately refers to people who are 30 or over, earn at least £10,000 a year save at least 12% of their income. In the 50-64 age group, average savings for women equated to around 10.5% of their average earnings while men saved around 11.2% of their annual income.

Increases from record lows

This is approaching the 12% threshold that Scottish Widows believes is the minimum needed for a comfortable retirement.

In 2013, the lowest overall proportion of people was deemed to be adequately prepared for retirement. The figure was the lowest on record for women since records started in 2006 while the percentage of men who were adequately prepared (49%) was level with both 2012 and 2006 figures.

According to the report, automatic enrolment has been well received among working women of all ages and is helping to boost their savings.

The influence of auto-enrolment

A woman who is auto-enrolled saves an average of £42.51 a month into their workplace pension, compared to men who save an average of £49.27.

Around 14.4 million women are now employed in the UK and this figure has risen by about half a million people in the past two years.

New opportunities are now presenting themselves so that both women and men can prepare for their retirement. A vital part of this preparation revolves around starting the process early so that more funds can be set aside.