Financial literacy helps decrease vulnerabilities, improves resilience: FCAC

April 6, 2023

There’s been much written of late about the lack of financial literacy in Canada, and the need to make people better equipped to deal with complex financial situations. Save with SPP reached out by email to Léonie Laflamme-Savoie, Media Relations Strategist at the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) for more information on this important topic.

We asked her first for a bit of background on the FCAC.

“The FCAC’s role is to strengthen the financial literacy of Canadians and supervise the compliance of federally regulated financial entities, including banks, with their legislative obligations, codes of conduct and public commitments,” she writes. “As part of its commitment to strengthening the financial literacy of Canadians, FCAC provides unbiased and fact-based information to help consumers make informed financial decisions on topics such as banking services for seniors and saving for retirement,” she continues.

We also asked FCAC about the programs it has established to promote financial literacy.

“In 2021, the Agency published the National Financial Literacy Strategy which aims to achieve better financial outcomes for Canadians by fostering changes in the ecosystem – either by removing barriers or by catalyzing action – that will help Canadians strengthen their financial literacy and ultimately their financial resilience,” states Laflamme-Savoie.

“FCAC’s research indicates that financial vulnerability affects a wide range of people, regardless of culture, community or background. While vulnerability is not limited to specific demographic segments, systemic barriers contribute to the fact that certain groups, such as seniors, are more likely to face financial vulnerability,” she adds.

She expanded a bit on challenges facing “current and future” seniors, particularly with retirement in mind.

“Increasing financial literacy decreases the risk of vulnerability and increases the likelihood of financial resilience. Financial literacy is key to help seniors make money decisions and manage their day-to-day personal finances. With increased financial literacy, current and future seniors are more likely to: 

  • look at retirement in a holistic manner (to consider their future sources of income/including government benefits/credits, the need for budgeting and building short/long-term savings/investments, accumulating/managing other financial assets, ensuring adequate insurance coverage, being informed about tax implications, about power of attorney, etc.). 
  • make more informed decisions and better prepare for retirement by building personal savings and assets; considering desired lifestyle, longevity/life expectancy and increasing cost of living (food, rent/housing, utilities, medication/health care, etc.) and other unique costs that can arise later in life (i.e., retirement living accommodations, living with a chronic illness/disability, losing or caring for a sick spouse, etc.) 
  • make sound decisions about when and how to retire  
  • choose financial products that make the most sense for their needs  
  • plan for and cope with major financial decisions related to life transitions (for example, losing a partner and taking on financial management responsibility) 
  • navigate and better understand how public programs and services can help them  
  • recognize and protect themselves against financial abuse, fraud and scams  
  • determine the appropriate advice and supports to help with financial decisions and with managing their finances.”

Laflamme-Savoie provided a little more detail on how financial literacy programs can help seniors.

“By providing opportunities for seniors to learn at “teachable moments” and in contexts relevant for their own situations, financial literacy programs can support them in planning for and navigating through important life events in retirement,” she writes, adding that “financial education can help seniors to: 

  • protect themselves from fraud and scams and/or from financial exploitation by family members, friends and/or support workers.   
  • adapt to changes in the banking industry, like the increased digitalization of banking products/services. With the proper support, seniors can build their knowledge and learn how to use these new products or technological innovations, thus building their digital financial literacy. 
  • understand how economic issues (i.e., economic growth or downturn/recession, rising inflation, falling interest rates, etc.) can have an impact on their financial situation, and help them prepare for and adapt their financial affairs accordingly, from both a short- and long-term perspective.”

“The National Financial Literacy Strategy recognizes these important issues and calls on all stakeholders to take them into account when designing products and services, including adopting approaches and tailoring programs to seniors’ needs,” Laflamme-Savoie continues. “FCAC offers Your Financial Toolkit, a comprehensive learning program that provides basic information and tools to help adults manage their personal finances and gain the confidence they need to make better financial decisions. Topics include, but are not limited to, Retirement and Pension.”

Finally, she writes, “as part of its mandate, FCAC oversees the compliance of regulated entities with federal regulations such as the Code of Conduct for the Delivery of Banking Services to Seniors which guides banks in their delivery of products and services that meet the needs of seniors.”

We thank Leonie Laflamme-Savoie and FCAC for taking the time to answer our questions.

She is correct — being a senior is complicated financially. You’re dealing with estate issues from your late parents, you have new and complex tax issues due to having more than one source of income. A great defence is to boost your level of financial literacy.

If you don’t have access to a workplace pension plan, and are feeling a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of setting up your own savings plan for retirement, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan may be just the resource you are looking for. It’s open to any Canadian with registered retirement savings plan room. Check out SPP today, a made-in-Saskatchewan retirement income solution!  

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Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

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