Canadian Investors More Optimistic than Americans, Manulife and John Hancock Investor Sentiment Surveys Indicate

TSX/NYSE/PSE: MFC  SEHK:945

  • First time comparison of Manulife and John Hancock survey results
  • Canadian and American investor confidence rose in the final quarter of 2011
  • Canadians and Americans aligned in financial New Year's resolutions to save for retirement, reduce debt and trim budgets
  • Over half of American investors consult with a financial advisor, along with almost three in four Canadian investors
  • Canadians believe it's a good time to invest in their homes while Americans indicate it's a good time to invest in mutual funds

TORONTO, Jan. 25, 2012 /CNW/ - North American investors are feeling optimistic, according to Investor Sentiment Index (ISI) surveys conducted by both Manulife Financial and John Hancock.  In the first-ever comparison of the two surveys, results suggest that Canadians are nearly twice as likely to view the present as a "good" or "very good" time to be investing in a range of investment vehicles as are their American counterparts.

The Canadian Manulife ISI, carried out in December 2011, rose five points and hit a year end high of +26, while the American John Hancock ISI showed a similar increase of five points and ended the year at +15.  Manulife Financial also conducted a supplementary survey targeted at the same financial demographic as John Hancock's ISI; that index score was +27.

"Growing consumer confidence is an important barometer when looking at the future health of the economy on either side of the border," said Bill Cheney Chief Economist for the companies.  "Consumer confidence usually translates into increased spending, a critical component to keep their economies moving forward."

The Canadian and American investors surveyed demonstrate comparable views about their future financial well-being. Fifty-five percent of Canadians feel they would be better off financially two years from now, with 37 percent saying their situation would be the same, and eight percent saying they expect to be worse off financially. Fifty-three percent of Americans surveyed believe they would be in a better financial position, with 38 percent expecting to be in the same financial situation, and nine percent expecting to be worse off.

When asked about using a financial advisor, 53 percent of American investors say they use a financial advisor versus 68 percent of Canadian investors.

Outcomes from Manulife Financial's supplementary survey and John Hancock's ISI indicate that Canadians and Americans share many similarities despite differences in investment climate, tax regulations and social infrastructure.  The top financial concerns for 2012 in both markets are:  decreasing investment values, ability to save for retirement, and managing personal debt. As their top three financial resolutions for the New Year, both Americans and Canadians rank saving for retirement as their #1 goal, followed by reducing non-mortgage debt and trimming household budgets.

Regarding specific investments, Canadians had a clear preference for investing in their own homes. Americans were more inclined to invest in balanced mutual funds than were their Canadian counterparts, and they had a much stronger aversion to keeping their funds in cash or cash-like investments.

About the Investor Sentiment Index Surveys
Both Investor Sentiment Index surveys are computed in a similar fashion. The survey measures investors' feelings about the current economic climate and their evaluations of what represents a good or bad investment given the current environment.  The poll also asks consumers about their confidence in reaching key financial goals and likelihood of purchasing financial products and services.

An online survey of approximately 1,000 investors was conducted in December (U.S.) and early January (Canada). Both surveys included household decision-makers at least 25 years of age, with household income of at least $75,000 and investable assets of at least $100,000.

The Canadian research is based on an internet survey of 1,000 affluent Canadians conducted between January 5 and 11, 2012 by Research House, an Environics Company. The U.S. survey was conducted by independent research firm Mathew Greenwald & Associates.  A total of 1,001 investors were surveyed between November 28 and December 6, 2011.  Respondents were selected from among members of Research Now's online research panel.

In a similarly-sized random sample survey, the margin of error would be plus or minus +/- 3.10%, 19 times out of 20.  Due to rounding and missing categories, numbers presented may not always total to 100 percent.

About Manulife Financial and John Hancock Financial
Manulife Financial is a leading Canada-based financial services group operating in 21 countries and territories worldwide.  John Hancock Financial is a unit of Manulife Financial Corporation. In 2012, John Hancock celebrates 150 years of serving clients across the United States, while Manulife Financial celebrates 125 years of providing clients strong, reliable, trustworthy and forward-thinking solutions for their most significant financial decisions.

Operating as Manulife Financial in Canada and in most of Asia, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States, Manulife Financial offers clients a diverse range of financial protection products and wealth management services through its extensive network of employees, agents and distribution partners. Funds under management by Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were C$492 billion (US$473 billion) as at September 30, 2011. Manulife Financial Corporation trades as 'MFC' on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under '945' on the SEHK. Manulife Financial can be found on the Internet at manulife.com.

For more information about Manulife Financial please visit manulife.com and for more information about John Hancock please visit johnhancock.com

SOURCE Manulife Financial

For further information:

Media contact:

Michael May
AVP, Media Relations
Manulife Financial Canadian Division
519-503-9905

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Manulife Financial

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