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Most Canadians doubt they’ll be able to achieve ‘comfortable’ retirement, BlackRock survey says

M. Corey Goldman |Financial Post| 29/10/13 | Last Updated: 29/10/13 9:19 AM ET

retirement

The good news: Five years after the global financial crisis and ensuing market meltdown, Canadians are feeling a little better about their financial future. The bad news: Most still don’t think they’ll have enough to make it through their golden years on solid financial footing.

This according to investment provider BlackRock Inc.’s first-ever Investor Pulse survey, which finds that Canadians are feeling confident they are making the right financial decisions – more so than their counterparts in the U.S. and the U.K. – even as they continue to struggle with high living costs and rising debt levels.

Indeed, over half (55%) said they are positive about their financial futures, with 17% feeling ‘comfortable’ and 13% ‘hopeful.’ Yet only half believe they are in control of their financial future, with 18% feeling completely in control, and a little more than half (51%) feeling confident they are making the right investment decisions.

“What we’re seeing is an interesting mix of Canadians’ financial conservatism and nervousness coupled with a clear desire to take a more active and informed role in managing their financial future,” says Noel Archard, Managing Director, Head of BlackRock Canada.

The findings of the study were based on surveys covering 1,000 Canadian investors at a range of income levels and 16,600 investors in 11 other countries.

Being able to pay for a “comfortable” retirement ranked higher on Canadian respondents’ concerns versus other parts of the world. Less than two-thirds of Canadians are confident they will achieve this goal.

At the same time, debt proved a major theme, with 28% identifying ‘paying off the mortgage’ as a financial priority, with 80% of those confident of doing so. Forty-four percent said they would like to ‘pay off other debt.’

At 48%, Canadians’ percentage of take-home pay devoted to living costs, bills and debt is particularly high, especially compared to the global average of 40%.

Canadians reported saving, on average, just 14% of their take-home pay each month – below the global average of 18% and less than in the U.S. (16%), Australia (17%) or Hong Kong (29%).

How to bridge the gap between getting out of debt and having enough to retire on? Investing, of course. Some 33% of Canadians described themselves as ‘active investors’ compared to a global average of just 22%, according to the survey.

But they’re not going to be betting it all on the stock market. Based on the survey results, Canadians appear to live up to their conservative reputation, with more than half noting they are “not willing to take any risks” with their money, and that they regularly monitor their savings and investments.