Canadians focused on paying for today’s lifestyle; one in four without long-term financial plan

Waterloo – Canadian investors aged 25 to 34 drove a two-point increase in the latest Manulife Financial Investor Sentiment Index as younger people are becoming increasingly financially-conscious.

The latest results released today show the index up two points since November 2012, to +22, with overall index ratings highest for the youngest group of Canadian investors – those 25-34 – at +26. Results for affluent Canadians – household decision-makers with an income of $75,000+ and investable assets of 100,000+ – are similar to younger investors who are significantly more likely to provide high Investor Sentiment Index scores.

Sentiment increases substantially among younger investors

The +26 ranking marks a substantial increase over November 2012 sentiment scores when Canadians aged 25-34 had the lowest overall sentiment ranking at +15. Today, 55% of younger Canadians (up from 46% in the last index) are more likely to say that they are in a better financial position today than two years ago and more than half (52%) remain optimistic that they will be in a better position two years from now.

While the number who say they are on track to meet their current financial goals remained steady at 37%, there was an increase in the number of younger Canadians who believe they are ahead of plan – 7%, up from only 4% in the last index. Additionally, 41% of younger investors are more likely to say they are behind on their progress toward their financial goals, but are likely to catch up.

“It’s always good to see investor sentiment improve and it’s encouraging to see optimism in younger investors about investing and saving,” said Paul Lorentz, Executive Vice-President, Retail for Manulife Canada. “Younger investors obviously have the benefit of time on their side which allows them to plan and adjust accordingly, but the reality is that while optimism is important, it’s actions that will make the difference. It will take good savings discipline, the right financial plan and smart investments to ensure they continue to meet their financial goals.”

Canadians paying for lifestyle; financial plans, retirement savings not a priority

Despite the optimism in investing and saving by younger Canadians, the index shows that the majority of Canadians are focusing on paying for today’s lifestyle and being more conservative in their spending, rather than focusing further into the future.

Half of Canadians (49%) indicate they have taken steps to reduce their spending this year however when it comes to longer-term financial planning, more than one in four (26%) said they do not have an overall financial plan in place. Of those who do, only half (52%) have reviewed their plan in the past two years. Only three per cent of Canadians indicated that obtaining or updating a financial plan was among their priorities for this year.

“Having a financial plan and a financial advisor to help you is key and it’s important that Canadians understand that they don’t have to have a lot of money to have those things in place,” added Mr. Lorentz. “The overall index – which is +29 for Canadians with a financial advisor compared with +19 for Canadians without an advisor – clearly shows that having access to professional financial advice to help you stay on track can provide a certain peace of mind.”

Canadians appear to be heeding the advice of the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Bank of Canada to reduce consumer debt. They are concentrating on paying down debt (41%), trying to maintain their current lifestyle (38%), and paying off their mortgages (23%). Nearly half (44%) say they will relax at home or not take a vacation this summer and of those who are vacationing, approximately two-thirds say they will pay cash for their travels and they will spend about the same amount as they did last summer.

Additionally, less than one in ten (9%) Canadians – and only 3% of younger Canadian investors aged 35-44 – indicate that saving for retirement is one of their key financial priorities this year. Only 45% of Canadians indicate that they feel they have sufficient retirement savings set aside to maintain their current lifestyle.

About the Manulife Financial Investor Sentiment Index

The Manulife Financial Investor Sentiment Index is a semi-annual measure of investors’ views on a range of asset classes and savings and investment vehicles, as well as their confidence in these areas. The index is based on an online survey of 1,000 Canadians aged 25+ that was conducted between May16-27 by Research House, an Environics Company. The data was weighted according to the 2011 Canadian Census. A national probability sample of this size would have a margin of error of +/-3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

In 2012, some changes were made to the survey timing and methodology. The survey moved from a quarterly survey to a semi-annual survey and the survey methodology was changed to an online panel; prior surveys were conducted by telephone. Prior to December 2012, the survey was based on a sample of Canadians aged 18+; since that time, the survey has included Canadians aged 25+. Historical comparison may be influenced by these changes.