Women have made enormous strides in business and the workplace, but they still feel they need to work on their financial planning, according to a survey sponsored by Northwestern Mutual.

Women are more likely than men-63 percent to 54 percent-to feel their financial planning needs improvement, and are more likely-41 percent to 35 percent-to consider themselves "informal" planners compared to men, according to the survey. Despite having a longer average lifespan than men, women feel less financially prepared for the age milestones of 75, 85 and 95 years old than their male counterparts.

However, while women feel their skills may still need a little more polish, the survey also indicates that women approach finance management decisions more cautiously and conservatively than men. They're more likely to opt for investments that are very low risk but lower returns over high returns with high risk. Moreover, among Americans taking steps to become more financially secure in 2012, 61 percent of women make "building up an emergency fund" a financial priority compared to 54 percent of men.

"There are some good signs here-particularly in women's recognition that their financial planning needs more attention," said Rebekah Barsch, Northwestern Mutual vice president. "But as is the case with everyone we surveyed, not just women, there is a distinct need to bring more focus and discipline to the financial planning process."

Independent research firm Ipsos conducted the online survey of 1,015 Americans aged 25 or older in February.

-Jim McConville