Canadians anticipate longest retirement

June 15, 2017

A global survey from HSBC reveals that Canadians anticipate some of the longest retirements, but they are among the least likely to seek information to guide financial decisions.

According to the study, Canadians expect to retire at 62 and live to the ripe old age of 85 on average, resulting in one of the longest retirement windows amongst their global peers (global averages: 61 and 81 years, respectively). However despite expectations of a long retirement, Canadians are amongst the least likely to say they actively seek information to guide their financial decisions (42% vs. global average of 56%).

HSBC’s the Future of Retirement: Shifting Sands, a new global retirement report captures the views of 18,414 people across 16 countries and territories worldwide including 1,003 in Canada. The complete Canada report is available at

“Our latest research suggests that the good news is Canadians can anticipate that they will enjoy a longer retirement and lifespan than many of their global peers. The less than great news is that they’re not actually planning for it,” said Larry Tomei, Executive Vice President and Head of Retail Banking and Wealth Management, HSBC Bank Canada.

“Interestingly, technology is really changing the way people plan and save for retirement; and while about one-third of working age people in Canada expect new technology will help make it easier to save for retirement because they can do research online, use an online retirement calculator or try out a robotic financial advisor, the data makes clear that many western nations are falling behind in terms of taking full advantage.”

How Canadians compare to their global peers
Technology is changing the way people save for retirement. About one-third of working-age people in Canada agree that new technology makes it easier to save for their retirement. This is well below the global average (47%), with a much higher proportion of working age respondents in China (77 %) and India (69%) than in France (17%)  Argentina (28%) and the UK (30%) agreeing that technology is helping them save for retirement.

Only 29% of working age people in Canada think they will be financially comfortable when retired (global average: 34%), with those in India (69%) and Indonesia (61%) the most likely to think this, and those in France (10%) and Australia (21%) the least likely.

Property is still viewed as a good way of saving for retirement, with 38% of working age people in Canada saying they think it delivers the best returns albeit well below the global average of 47 %. This is not yet fully reflected in retirement plans, with only 16% of working age people in Canada expecting property to help fund their retirement.

Canadians have a comparatively low risk appetite, with just over one in five (21%) saying they would be very willing to make risky investments to ensure their financial stability, and 22% saying they’d risk financial losses (global averages: 34% and 28%, respectively).  In comparison, the highest proportions of working age people willing to take such risks are in China (61%) and Taiwan (47%), and the lowest are in France (10%) and the UK (15%).

Just over one half (55%) of working age Canadians say they will continue working to some extent in retirement; 66 per cent would be willing to defer their retirement for two years or more to have a better retirement income; and 44% would work for longer or get a second job to sustain their saving for retirement.

Millennials expect to retire at age 61, Generation X at 63 and Baby Boomers at 64 (global averages: 59, 61 and 64 years, respectively). Millennials in Canada expect to live to age 86, while Generation X expect to live to 83 and Baby Boomers to 85 (global averages: 79, 81, and 84 years respectively).

About half (52%) of people surveyed in Canada believe that Millennials have experienced weaker economic growth than previous generations, while 54% agree that Millennials are paying for the economic consequences of older generations, such as the global financial crisis and rising national debt (global average: 52% and 58% respectively). And while 46% of people in Canada say that Millennials don’t know how good they have it, enjoying a better quality of life than any generation before them, this is below the global average of 54%.

Health cheque
The rising cost of healthcare is another important issue. Almost three-quarters of working age people believe that retirees will have to spend more on healthcare costs in the future, and 61% are concerned about being able to fund their healthcare. Thirty-three percent of working age people worry about the availability and affordability of healthcare, compared to the global average of 25%.

Practical steps
HSBC draws the following insights and practical actions drawn from the research findings, which may help today’s retirement savers plan a better financial future for themselves.

  1. Be realistic about your retirement.
  2. Consider different sources of funding.
  3. Plan for the unexpected.
  4. Take advantage of technology.
Written by Sheryl Smolkin
Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.

One in five Canadians look to home equity for retirement funding

September 29, 2016

By Sheryl Smolkin

Financial planners will tell you that when you are planning for retirement you should not include home equity as a potential source of income. That’s because you have to live somewhere, and increasing numbers of older, healthy Canadians hope to “age in place,” at least initially.

However, for many Canadians the equity in their home is their greatest asset. So the findings of a new HSBC study that 20% of pre-retirees believe that income from downsizing or selling a property is likely to help them pay for life after work are not surprising. But income from downsizing or selling property is currently helping only 5% of retirees to fund their retirement.

Among pre-retirees who have started saving, people that have either stopped and/or faced difficulty (29%) are most likely to consider using property downsizing or sale income than those who did not face difficulty.

Those closer to retirement are more likely to think that income from downsizing or selling property will help them fund their retirement. Pre-retirees who are committed savers (26%), are the most likely to think that income from downsizing or selling a primary or secondary property will help them to fund their retirement. Those who are comfortably affluent (13%) are the least likely.

Looking forward, working age people and retirees of all ages have plans to change their living arrangements in the future. These include moving to:

A smaller home: 59%
A retirement home: 59%
A care home: 49%
Another city/ town in the same country: 33%
Live closer to family members/children: 27%
A bigger home: 26%
Another country: 15%
Live with my children: 13%


Sixty-two percent of people in their 50s plan to move to a smaller home in the future compared to 59% of people in their 40s and 49% of people 70 or over. Sixty-three percent of people aged 60 or over plan to move to a retirement home at some stage, compared to 55% of people in their 40s. Those who have received some sort of retirement advice are also more likely to think they will move to a smaller home (65%) than those who have received none (41%).

I must confess we buy lottery tickets every week (aka a tax on the statistically- challenged) in the vain hope that if we win “the big one” we’ll be able to renovate a large bungalow in a central part of Toronto and rent or buy a pied-à-terre in Ottawa where our daughter’s family lives.

However, in the meantime, as long as my husband and I are in good health, we are planning to stay in our three-story North York home. Currently Joel is using the basement apartment as a work room where he makes beautiful cutting boards, bowls and other decorative items. But when the time comes that we need help to remain in our home, the apartment can be used by a live-in caregiver.

At least that’s the plan for now! No doubt as the years go by and we move through the “go-go, go-slow and no-go” stages of retirement, our plans may change. And it is comforting to know that if we do live into our 90s, that the equity in our home is available to help finance a variety of options later in life.

The rise of semi-retirement

June 11, 2015

By Sheryl Smolkin

Call it semi-retirement, phased retirement, an encore career or a second act career. It all amounts to the same thing. And a new global survey from HSBC shows it is a growing international trend.

The reality of retirement is evolving and semi-retirement – working fewer hours and/or changing jobs – is becoming more widespread. Traditionally, retirement meant a sudden switch from a busy full-time work routine to a more relaxed lifestyle. Many of today’s working age people are seeking a more gradual transition to life after work.

Easing into full retirement
While only 17% of Canadian retirees semi-retired before fully retiring, almost half (45%) of working age people are planning to ease into retirement before they stop work completely. A similar proportion (40%) expect to switch straight from their current job and working hours to full retirement and 15% expect that they will never be able to fully retire.

There are differences between men and women, with more men (42%) planning to move immediately from their current job and working hours work to full retirement than women (38%). Those closer to retirement (aged 45+) are more likely to believe they will never retire (20%) compared to those aged 25-44 (12%).

The life of a semi-retiree
Almost three in five (57%) of those working age people planning to semi-retire want to stay in the same job but work fewer hours, while just over a third (35%) are planning a change in career as well as reduced hours. A significantly smaller proportion (8%), plan to semi-retire by changing career but working the same hours.

Men are more likely than women to favour staying in the same job but reducing their hours. More than three in five (62%) men plan to do this compared to just over half (53%) of women. Conversely, 37% of women plan to change jobs and work fewer hours, compared to 32% of men.

Choice or necessity?
The graph below illustrates the reasons why Canadian retirees who initially semi-retired made the decision to do so. It is interesting to note that only 18% said they semi-retired for health reasons and 12% said they could not afford to fully retire.

Why did you move from working full-time into semi-retirement? (Base: All who semi-retired)
18%: To reduce stress
38%: Didn`t want to retire full time immediately
37%: Keep active/ keep my brain alert
35%: Like working
26%: Wanted an easy transition into retirement
28%: I no longer needed to work full time
20%: It was something I planned and was able to do
18%: Health reasons/physical demands
17%: To maintain a comfortable lifestyle
12%: Cannot afford to retire

You can’t take it with you 
When asked whether it is better to spend all of your money or save as much as possible to pass on to the next generation, the majority (66%) of working age Canadians take a balanced view, believing that it is better to spend some money and save some to pass on.

However not everyone agrees. More than one in five (21%) working age people believe that it is better to spend all your money and let the next generation create their own wealth. Comparatively few (13%) agree that it is better to save as much money as possible to pass on to the next generation.

Attitudes towards spending and saving vary from country to country. Over a quarter of pre-retirees in Hong Kong (28%), Canada (27%), the UK (26%) and Australia (26%) say that it is better to spend all your money and let the next generation create its own wealth.

In contrast, fewer working age people in Mexico (12%), the UAE (15%) and Indonesia (16%) agree that it’s better to spend all your money.

Also read: Will you be working at 66?