Tag Archives: Wealth Professional

Aug 17: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

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!

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.

JUL 13: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

Pandemic a bigger challenge to retirement saving than Great Recession: report

Unless all your retirement savings are invested in low-risk securities like GICs or government bonds, you’ve probably spent a lot of time watching the pendulum swings in the market since March.

A new report from Fidelity Investments Canada says it’s clear that today’s pandemic-influenced markets are worse for savers than the shaky markets of the “2008-2009 Great Financial Crisis.”

“Data shows Canadians near and in retirement are more negatively impacted by COVID-19 than the Great Financial Crisis,” states Peter Bowen, Vice-President, Tax and Retirement Research in a media release from Fidelity. “However, we are in this together and there is help. By seeking financial advice and writing down an action plan, Canadians can feel better and navigate the uncertainty,” he states in the release.

The data was gathered for Fidelity Canada’s annual Retirement 20/20 survey, which gathered data from Canadians “already in and approaching retirement.”

Here are some of the key findings mentioned in the media release:

  • 40 per cent of retirees reported “a negative outlook on their life in retirement,” the worst score in this category since 2014.
  • 40 per cent said their earnings had decreased owing to the pandemic, and 50 per cent said that fact, in turn, means they are “reducing the amount of money they are able to save.”
  • Those (80 per cent of pre-retirees and 92 per cent of retirees) with a written financial plan felt “positive about their (future) life in retirement.”
  • Eighty-five per cent of those with a plan said they worked with an advisor.

What’s different about this market rollback from the 2008-09 crisis?

According to Nicolas Samaan of Manulife, interviewed by Wealth Professional, this crisis has a different element to it.

“You’ve seen on LinkedIn people posting about losing their job and people helping each other,” Samaan tells Wealth Professional. “You see that human interaction, not just financially but in general, people making sure others are okay.

“It’s more about wellness – that is so much more important. I’ve always said to people, if you don’t have the health to do your (personal projects), it’s not going to work. In that sense, this crash was very different than what we’ve seen in the past,” he states in the article.

Samaan is right. The last crisis was scary but on a strictly economic basis – will banks fail, will the economy tank? This one has the overlay of a worldwide health crisis – will we find a way to cope with, or become immune from, this virus, and will the economy be able to hold on until that happens?

Picking stocks when markets are uncertain is not something for the faint of heart. Having professionals handle the investing is especially valuable at times like these. It’s nice to realize that the Saskatchewan Pension Plan has averaged an eight per cent rate of return since its inception in the 1980s, a period of time that included the Tech Wreck in 2000-2001 and the Great Financial Crisis a decade or so ago. The pros can make adjustments when markets take an unexpected turn, and can look at alternative ways to grow your money. Check out the SPP today.

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.

Feb 24: Best from the blogosphere

Old “rule of thumb” retirement planning go-tos may need adapting: Shelestowsky

A great interview with Meridian’s Paul Shelestowsky in Wealth Professional shows that some of the old standard tenets of retirement planning may not translate as well here in the 21st Century.

An example, Shelestowsky tells Wealth Professional, is the idea that saving $1 million in your retirement kitty is a target we should all be aiming for. But that figure may not be the right target for everyone, he explains in the story.

“StatsCan has reported that close to 40% of Canadians are still working between the ages of 65 and 69,” he states in the article. “Some Canadian adults have their 75-year-old parents living with them; sometimes that means they get help with the finances, but a lot of times they don’t. Similarly, you can’t just assume that your kids will move out when they’re 25 anymore.”

Another rule our parents told us was never to take debt into retirement.

But that’s increasingly difficult to do, Shelestowsky explains to Wealth Professional, in an era where it is common to continue mortgage payments in retirement, and where household debt has reached levels where Canadians are “owing $180 for every $100 they bring home.”

“How can you retire when you’re having troubles getting by with your regular income, and then have to live on 60% of that?” he asks in the magazine article. High levels of debt may explain the greater-than-ever reliance on home equity lines of credit, Shelestowsky tells the magazine.

Planning for retirement is still of critical importance, he says. “Failing to plan is planning to fail,” he notes in the article. Without some sort of savings, he warns, you could be living solely on Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS) payments, which he says works out to only about $1,700 to $1,800 a month, or $42,000 a year for a married couple.

“The government never meant for OAS and CPP to serve as people’s sole retirement income source,” he states in the article. “Back in the day, people could comfortably sock away an extra $200 a month when they’re 20 or 30 years old; now you could say debt is the new normal. And to have a defined-benefit pension plan you can count on in your old age … that’s almost unheard of nowadays. Companies are shifting toward defined-contribution plans, but even that’s not a staple perk anymore.”

Shelestowsky says a solution is to get the help of an advisor to figure out a pre- and post-retirement budget. For those in poor financial shape, the budget process can turn things around; for others, it is a much-needed source of retirement reassurance, he tells the magazine.

If you have a workplace pension plan or retirement savings arrangement, you have a leg up for retirement. But if you don’t, and aren’t sure how to invest on your own, be sure to check out the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Through this open defined contribution plan, you can contribute up to $6,300 a year towards your retirement – your money will be grown by professional investors at a very low fee, and when the day comes when you are logging off for the last time and giving back your building pass, SPP can turn those savings into a lifetime income stream.

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, classic rock, and darts. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Oct 28: Best from the blogosphere

Canada – still among the world’s top places to retire

Canada – true north strong and free – has been ranked the 8th-best country in the world in which to retire, according to a recent survey by Natixis Investment Managers.

The study, which was reported on in Wealth Professional, covered 44 developed countries, the magazine reports.

“Canada has been ranked eighth among 44 developed countries for retiree wellbeing in the 2019 Natixis Global Retirement Index with an overall score of 77 per cent. It improved its standing by one spot compared to last year by improving in retirement finances and material wellbeing and holding steady in health, though it slipped in terms of quality of life,” the magazine reports.

While the study put Canada’s finances near the top of the list, a couple of warning signs are out there, the magazine reports.

“The ongoing rise in the ratio of retirees to active workers has introduced a risk of old-age dependency — a trend that could impact future generations, particularly women — as well as rising pressure on government services over time. Canada’s financial ranking is also threatened by lower scores for tax pressure and interest rates,” reports Wealth Professional.

In plainer terms, since the number of retirees is gaining on the number of those working, the survey makers felt Canada may see negative impacts on government retirement services in the future.

Canada improved to 21st in the “material wellbeing” category, the magazine notes, but again warned that the current low-interest rate environment is forcing retirement savers “to invest in higher-risk assets, increasing their exposure to volatile markets — something that’s especially concerning for an investor segment that’s less able to recover from possible losses from market downturns,” Wealth Professional reports.

Other future concerns noted in the article are longevity risk – the danger of living to a very old age – and concerns about the climate.

On balance, however, it is nice to see that our many efforts to save for retirement are paying off, in that we live in a country that is one of the best to retire in. Think of that when you’re wrestling over whether or not to direct a few more dollars to retirement savings – at the end of the day, you’re going to be where you want to be, and those dollars will come in handy as future income. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan offers a great way to do just that.

Top 5 things about retirement

Now that we have proof that Canada is a great place to be a retiree, let’s look at some of the great things about being retired in general.

According to The Kerrie Show blog, the best things are:

  • Time to spoil yourself
  • Freedom to choose (as in, what to do)
  • Being financially secure
  • Pursuing your interests
  • Having a busy social life

The blog notes that while some of us may find retirement to be a “strange environment,” and may miss performing “a necessary service” on the job, “one should look at the positive side of retirement… there are many benefits.” Very true, those words.

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, classic rock, and darts. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Jul 8: Best from the blogosphere

A look at the best of the Internet, from an SPP point of view

Caring for parents hits retirement savings bottom line

New research has found that 14 per cent of Canadians with a living parent “are expecting the impact of helping their parents financially will mean delaying their own retirement,” reports Wealth Professional.

A further 12 per cent say caring for parents will prevent them from paying off debt, the magazine notes, citing research carried out by Leger for FP Canada and Chartwell Retirement Residences.

Other fears connected with parental care include having to take time off work to look after parents (a concern for 13 per cent of respondents), or having to quit work entirely to provide care (a fear for five per cent of those surveyed), the magazine reports.

For sure, having a parent who develops a serious illness and can’t live on their own anymore can throw a wrench in any plan. Is there much that can be done about it?

According to Sharon Henderson, VP of Marketing & Communications for Chartwell, an important thing to do is to talk with the parents about the possibility of a future health downturn.

“One of the biggest concerns we see in retirement living is the avoidance of financial conversations between adult children and their senior parents. This can create uncertainty and prevent proactive planning for support later in life,” she states in the article.

It’s important to go over the potential costs of long-term care, and to be aware of what measures the parents have put in place to help pay for it, the article advises. As well, there are tax credits available if you are acting as a caregiver, the article notes.

As Kelley Keehn of FP Canada notes in the article, “the senior years can be financially challenging, and as a result, many older Canadians turn to family members for support. That can cause a significant financial strain, and as Canadians live longer, that strain will only grow.”

Some great things about retirement

While it’s a safe bet that no one’s retirement will be completely smooth sailing, there are good things about it that we must not lose sight of, reports US News and World Report.

For starters, “a weight is lifted from your shoulders when you quit the rat race,” the article notes. There’s more time for movies and TV. You can try new things, join new clubs, and meet new people. And if you miss the routine of working, you can still do it part-time, the article suggests. There’s loads more time for family and friends, and to “give back” via volunteering, the article notes.

Other ideas include travel, enjoying the “time to do nothing,” and generally doing what you want instead of what others want you to do, the article concludes.

Whether it’s caring for a relative or doing your own thing, retirement is a time of life where you’ll appreciate having money. Sure the government provides some, but if you don’t have a workplace pension, or you want to supplement what it provides, consider saving on your own via the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. You can start small, you can ramp up your contributions as your income increases, and when it’s time to collect your savings you can receive it as a lifetime monthly pension. Check them out today!

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, classic rock, and darts. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Apr 22: Best from the blogosphere

A look at the best of the Internet, from an SPP point of view

Savings – the spirit is willing, but the effort is weak

An interesting new report from Edward Jones is featured in a recent Wealth Professional that suggests Canadians really do place saving on the top of their list of financial priorities.

The study of 1,500 Canadians found that 77 per cent – more than three quarters of respondents – “have prioritized saving.” The story goes on to note that only 44 per cent see paying down debt as their top priority.

So the spirit is willing, as they say, but debt is getting in the way. “The most recent data from Statistics Canada points to a significant debt problem for Canadians, with household levels reaching a record high of 178.5 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2018,” the article reports.

Despite that crippling debt level, when asked, Canadians see retirement saving as their top priority, followed by “funds for lifestyle expenses (like vacations), future family or child’s education, and emergency fund” topping out the top four, Wealth Professional reports.

The article goes on to say that despite those worthy savings goals, 58 per cent of those surveyed admit they have “underperformed” on their savings efforts, with only 12 per cent saying they were on track and have met their savings goals.

Let’s face it. In an era where we all owe about $1.78 for every dollar we earn, it is difficult to do much with our money other than paying down debt. And if we’re only able to make the minimum payment, those debts can take decades to pay off, which is discouraging.

Like most things that we hate having to do – such as losing weight, eating better, hitting the gym – getting out of debt requires patience and self-discipline.

According to the Motley Fool blog via MSN.ca, there are practical ways to turn things around with debt. Their first idea is to stop taking on more debt. “This means committing not to charge any more on your cards until you’ve paid off what you owe,” the blog advises. Having a budget in place will help you live with this new limit on your spending power, the blog notes.

The second step is to try and reduce your credit card interest rate. You can do this, the blog advises, by switching to a lower-interest credit card or via a debt consolidation loan.

Third idea is “to make a debt payoff plan,” the blog says. Essentially, the plan should have you paying more than the minimum on the card each month in order to pay it off more quickly, the blog advises.

Through this hard work of steady debt reduction, be sure to chart your progress, the blog advises.

Debt, like a big ocean liner, takes a long time to turn around. But once you’ve paid off a single credit card, you have extra money to pay down the next. Clearing up your debt will also, once you’ve completed it, allow you to focus on positive savings/spending goals such as retirement planning, vacations, education savings and an emergency fund. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan is a wonderful resource for long-term retirement savings, check out their website today.

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, classic rock, and darts. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Dec 31: Best from the blogosphere – Retirement system OK

A look at the best of the Internet, from an SPP point of view

Retirement system OK, but more needs to be done: study

It’s a classic “good news, bad news” situation, this Canadian retirement system of ours. The good news, according to OECD research published recently in Wealth Professional, is that the developed world’s pension systems are much more stable.

The bad news is that they’re not necessarily delivering an adequate retirement benefit, the magazine notes.

“Governments are facing growing challenges from an aging population, low returns on retirement savings, low growth, less stable employment careers and insufficient pension coverage among some groups of workers,” the article notes. “These challenges are eroding belief that pensions will provide enough income for comfortable living in retirement,” the article adds.

While Canada’s system is ranked sixth best among those studied, the article points out that Canadians contribute about 10 per cent of their earnings towards government retirement programs. By comparison, Italians contribute about 30 per cent of earnings, the article notes.

There’s no question that the CPP is on much more stable footing than in years past. The giant CPPIB fund, as of mid-2018, had $366 billion in assets and had an investment rate of return of 11.6 per cent, according to a media release.

But the CPP payout, while being improved, is currently quite modest. The maximum monthly amount as of July 2018 was $1,134.17, and the average amount paid out to new CPP retirees was $673.10. The great thing about CPP is that it continues for the rest of your life and is inflation protected.

Most of us will also get Old Age Security payments, which are currently around $600 a month. This is also a lifetime benefit.

What the studies are telling us, however, is that if we don’t have a workplace pension, we need to be saving on our own for retirement. CPP and OAS were designed to supplement your workplace pension and personal savings. Many of us don’t have pensions at work, and a surprising number of us don’t have any retirement savings either.

If you are in that situation, there is still time to take action. If you don’t have a pension at work, you can create your own by joining the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. You can determine how much to contribute up to a maximum level of $6,200 a year.

If you have dribs and drabs of RRSP savings in other places, those can be consolidated in the SPP (up to $10,000 a year).

Not only will SPP invest that money for you, but at the time you want to retire, they’ll convert it into a lifetime monthly pension. By creating your own retirement income base, those helpful government benefits waiting for you in your future will be icing on the cake, rather than the cake itself.

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. After a 35-year career as a reporter, editor and pension communicator, Martin is enjoying life as a freelance writer. He’s a mediocre golfer, hopeful darts player and beginner line dancer who enjoys classic rock and sports, especially football. He and his wife Laura live with their Sheltie, Duncan, and their cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

 

Dec 24: Best from the blogosphere – Feds want input on how to make retirement more secure

A look at the best of the Internet, from an SPP point of view

Feds want input on how to make retirement more secure

Retirement security is a hard thing to define, particularly if you are not yet retired.

Some imagine it as an upgrade from working – you’ll have more time to do all the things you want, no more slogging away at the office. Others worry if they will have enough savings to fund the kind of life they have now – or even a more austere one.

Workplace pensions are far rarer than they were in decades past, leaving most of us to have to create our own retirement security.

The federal government, reports Wealth Professional, is opening public consultations on the growing problem of retirement security. It wants to take a harder look at pension regulations, as well as (and perhaps, the article says, in light of the Sears pension debacle), “insolvency and bankruptcy laws.”

The consultations want to “improve retirement security for Canadians” by looking at ways to ensure workplace plans are “well funded,” and corporate decisions are better aligned with “pensioner and employee interests.” The government, the article notes, talks about the improvements that have been made to government pensions, such as the OAS and GIS.

We learned recently that Canadians ought to have saved 11 times their salary by the time they are ready to retire. But in an era when workplace pensions are scarce, how can such saving be encouraged? And how do we ensure folks don’t dip into the savings before it’s time to live off them?

If RRSP savings were locked in people wouldn’t be able to withdraw money until they reach retirement age, and at that point, if funds were be converted to an income stream people would be assure of income for life.

A second idea might be to add a voluntary savings component to the CPP; this has been floated before.

Another idea might be to create investment funds for the OAS and the GIS. Right now these benefits are paid 100 per cent via taxpayer dollars. If, as is the case with the CPP, some of the dollars could be diverted to investment funds, maybe that taxpayer portion of future benefit costs could be reduced.

The real challenge is getting people to save more. One can argue truthfully that there are plenty of great savings vehicles out there that just aren’t being fully used. Could the feds offer some new tax incentives to put money away?

It will be interesting to see what the government finds out on this important topic.

If you don’t have a pension plan at work – and even if you do – it’s always wise to put away money for retirement, which will come sooner than you think. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan offers a simple, well-run savings vehicle that is flexible and effective. You decide how much to put away, you can ramp it up or down over your career, and you get multiple options on how to receive a pension when the golden handshake comes. Be sure to check it out.

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. After a 35-year career as a reporter, editor and pension communicator, Martin is enjoying life as a freelance writer. He’s a mediocre golfer, hopeful darts player and beginner line dancer who enjoys classic rock and sports, especially football. He and his wife Laura live with their Sheltie, Duncan, and their cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22