August 17, 2020

Are Canadians getting sidetracked in their retirement savings efforts?

What’s something that you begin to think about for the first time in your 20s and 30s, and begin to worry about once you’re in your 60s?

No, it’s not growing old. According to new research from Franklin Templeton, reported upon in Wealth Professional, that multi-decade preoccupation is saving for retirement.

Franklin Templeton’s Retirement Income Strategies & Expectations (RISE) research found that 79 per cent of Canadians “believe someone should start saving for retirement by the time they’re 30 years old,” the magazine reports. But only about half of those surveyed – 41 per cent – said they did start saving at that age, Wealth Professional reports.

“Looking at the top three financial priorities reported by each participating age group, the survey showed that retirement saving is a top objective among those in their 30s, and it remains as a primary consideration for people up to their 60s,” the magazine explains.

So what’s getting in the way of retirement saving?

According to the survey, “one-third said they fell short because they had to prioritize debt repayment, and one-fourth blamed their shortfall on an unexpected life event or expense.”

Right up there with retirement saving as chief concerns – in all age groups – were “paying off unsecured debt” and “having sufficient savings to cover unexpected expenses,” the survey data shows.

So if Canadians generally aren’t able to save much for retirement, how do they think the golden years will work out?

Even though three-quarters of those surveyed were “confident” about retirement, 73 per cent expressed concern “about potentially outliving their savings,” and 48 per cent admit they have yet to develop a retirement plan.

Without plans or savings, it’s not surprising to learn that Canadians – 42 per cent – expect to have a “later than expected” retirement, Wealth Professional notes. What the magazine did find surprising was that retirees polled expressed “regret at not having saved more” (56 per cent) and noted their expenses had actually gone up in retirement (61 per cent).

The Cole’s Notes version of this is quite simple. We all think we should start saving regularly while we’re young, but then find we can’t or don’t. And when we’re older, we regret that decision. So why not make saving the new “not saving?”

Like any big project, saving for retirement can sound intimidating. Who can suddenly put some high percentage of take-home income away in a retirement savings account? A trick that works is to start small. Can you afford to save $5 a week? Start there. Down the road, when you can, increase it, maybe to $10. Be sure that your savings are automatically withdrawn from your bank account so you don’t accidentally crack into the money. Make it automatic, keep increasing the contributions, and over time, savings will start to pile up. You can use an automated approach with the Saskatchewan Pension Plan.

You can also set up your SPP account in the “bill payments” area of your bank account, and then transfer any cash left over following bill payments to your plan. SPP will quietly and efficiently grow your money over time, and when it’s time to hit the parachute and escape from work, your SPP pension will be ready to provide you income for life via a choice of annuity options. Be sure to check them out today!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

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.

More Canadians than Americans saving for retirement

April 14, 2016

By Sheryl Smolkin

There has always been a friendly rivalry between Canada and the United States in sports like hockey, baseball and skating. But a recent study from Franklin Templeton Investments reveals that that in the retirement savings arena Canadians are winning, because more of us are stashing money away to support ourselves in our later years. Nevertheless, the majority of Canadians are still concerned that they will not have enough money to retire.

According to FTI’s 2016 Retirement Income Strategies and Expectations (RISE) survey, 70% of Canadian pre-retirees have started saving for retirement, a steady increase from 2015 (63%) and 2014 (60%). In contrast, just 59% of US pre-retirees are saving for retirement, continuing a slide from 61% in 2015 and 65% in 2014.

“One possible driver of the rising retirement savings rate among Canadians could be the increasing use of workplace savings opportunities. Our survey results show that 26% of Canadians (up from 20% in 2014) are saving for retirement through workplace salary deduction programs,” said Duane Green, managing director, Canada at Franklin Templeton Investments Corp. “However, despite this positive savings trend in Canada, we tend to see some recurring anxieties about retirement, both from our annual survey and anecdotally in our ongoing retirement discussions with individual Canadians.”

The annual survey revealed that 82% of Canadians are worried about paying their expenses in retirement, with anxiety about retirement expenses peaking well before actual retirement.

“As retirement appears on the horizon, people increasingly start worrying about the financial aspects of it. Our survey reveals that an astonishing 92% of Canadians who plan on retiring in the next 11 to 15 years have some concerns about paying expenses in retirement,” said Matthew Williams, head of Defined Contribution and Retirement at Franklin Templeton Investments Corp.

According to the survey, pre-retirees’ perceptions and the actual spending habits of those in retirement are also at odds. Williams highlights survey data indicating that 69% of pre-retirees anticipate spending less in retirement, but only 32% of retirees say their expenses have actually decreased. So, there is a disconnect between what pre- retirees foresee and the actual experience of retired Canadians.

Williams notes, “The older we get, the greater the probability of unforeseen health issues – whether mental or physical – as well as rising prescription drug expenses or needing long-term care. We continue to notice an awareness of health care-related concerns, which are likely to increase as people age.”

While those younger than 55 expect that running out of money (33%) will be a bigger concern in retirement than health or medical issues (23%), the trend reverses significantly as age increases. Over a third (36%) of those aged 55 to 64 expect health and medical issues to be their top concern during retirement, whereas 19% anticipate their primary concern will be running out of money.

Individual retirement planning is particularly critical given that 63% of Canadians do not have a workplace pension plan, according to the survey. The lack of pensions, according to 2015 Statistics Canada data is particularly acute in the private sector, where just 22% of employees have a workplace pension plan — a sharp contrast to the 60% coverage rate for private sector employees in the US.

Among those who do have a workplace pension plan, complacency can be an issue: Almost half (48%) of Canadians with a workplace pension plan do not know what their personal contribution rate is, and just 12% (vs. 18% in 2015) worked with their investment advisor when selecting investment choices in their workplace pension plan.

Other key survey findings:

  • Regionally, on the high end, 81% of those not yet retired in the Prairie Provinces have started saving for retirement, but only 58% of Quebec pre-retirees have started. Nationally, 70% of Canadian pre-retirees are saving for retirement.
  • Over half (53%) of those in Atlantic Canada are very or somewhat concerned about outliving their assets or having to make major sacrifices to their retirement strategy vs. only 27% in Quebec. Nationally, 44% of Canadians are concerned about outliving their assets or having to make major sacrifices to their retirement strategy.
  • 43% of Canadian retirees say their expenses have increased since they retired, up sharply since 2015 (33%). In contrast, the same survey response data in the US indicated very little difference between 2016 (38%) and 2015 (37%).