As Investor Confidence Stabilizes, Scotiabank Offers Canadians Financial Tips
to Stay on Track in 2010

EDMONTON, Dec. 30 /CNW/ - While Canadian investors don't anticipate a quick fix for the Canadian economy, a monthly tracking study conducted by Vision Critical in partnership with Scotiabank shows more than half of investors (53 per cent) feel the economy has stabilized. As a result, there has been a notable increase in the level of confidence in the market as one-fifth of investors are planning to increase their investments.

"The economic and market recovery we've seen over the past several months is clearly beginning to calm the nerves of investors," says Kathy Henderson, a Senior Wealth Advisor with ScotiaMcLeod's Edmonton office. "It's encouraging to see that this regained confidence has prompted investors to make the decision to get back on track with their financial plan."

With 2010 right around the corner, now is the ideal time to take stock of your financial situation and Ms. Henderson offers some fundamental strategies to help investors get and stay on track in the year ahead.

    
        1.    Don't veer from your financial plan. While it's important to be
              flexible, don't allow yourself to get off track. Unless your
              goals have changed dramatically, there are good reasons why you
              selected your asset mix. While the markets have recovered
              considerably, they are still down 24 per cent from their high
              back in June 2008. By sticking with your plan, you will reap
              the benefits as the markets continue to recover.

        2.    If you don't have a financial plan, don't put it off any
              longer. It's tough to stay on track when you don't know where
              you're going. An investment advisor can help you frame your
              short and long-term goals and recommend a plan, including
              appropriate financial and investment strategies, to help you
              get where you want to go. Based on results from the most recent
              release of Wealth Management Index, a quarterly syndicated
              study of the Canadian investor conducted by Vision Critical,
              only 42 per cent of Canadian investors have a personalized
              financial plan.

        3.    Set reasonable expectations and then choose your investment
              asset mix accordingly. If your expectations are too high, your
              asset mix may be too aggressive and out of step with your
              appetite for risk. As investors get closer to retirement, they
              will need to fine-tune their investment strategy.

        4.    Dividend paying companies should be considered for your
              investment portfolio. By including large, "blue chip" companies
              that increase dividends every year, your portfolio may receive
              a significant boost. A dividend provides between two to four
              per cent return on investment. If you can get another four per
              cent from the growth of the company you have invested in, then
              you have a nice return for the year that will allow you to keep
              up with inflation and hold on to your buying power.

        5.    Paying down debt vs. investing shouldn't be an "either-or"
              situation. It's important to do both, especially now while
              interest rates are low, thereby reducing the carrying costs of
              debt, and the markets are poised for continued recovery. There
              are a variety of strategies that can help you do both. For
              example, make an RRSP contribution and then use your refund to
              pay down debt - starting with consumer debt such as higher rate
              department store and other credit cards. Alternatively, explore
              options such as a debt consolidation loan that will help you
              free up cash to invest.

        6.    Know what your expenses are. Life seems to move at an ever-
              increasing pace and it's easy to lose track of your budget.
              With the added pressure of holiday spending behind you, the
              beginning of a new year is a perfect time to review your
              household balance sheet to track how much money is coming in,
              what your fixed expenses are and identify things you're
              spending money on that you could live without. Then consider
              setting up an automatic savings plan so that the money you're
              saving comes straight out of your bank account and can be
              redirected to other priorities - whether it's investing, paying
              down your mortgage or saving for a family vacation.

        7.    Enhance your flexibility by opening a Tax-Free Savings Account
              (TFSA). This is a great investment/savings tool for Canadians
              18 and over, no matter what their stage of life or what their
              financial goals are - and offers the flexibility of a short-
              term savings vehicle with a longer-term investment plan, all in
              one. You can save up to $5,000 each year and all investment
              income earned inside the TFSA (capital gains, interest,
              dividends) are tax free for life. Unused contribution room is
              carried forward indefinitely and amounts withdrawn top up
              future contribution room.

    For more information on ways to get the upper hand on your finances, check out http://helpmeinvest.scotiabank.com/ or visit your local Scotiabank branch.

    See: Canadian Investor Pulse* conducted by Vision Critical for Scotiabank
- Backgrounder: November 4-18, 2009 Data

    Canadian Investor Pulse* conducted by Vision Critical for Scotiabank
    Backgrounder: November 4-18, 2009 Data

    -   The economic outlook has stabilized. In November 2009, Canadian
        investors continue to see a more stable economy with half (53 per
        cent) stating that the Canadian economy will remain unchanged over
        the next three months.
        -  That sentiment was strongest in Quebec (62 per cent) while Western
           Canadians were most likely to foresee an improvement over the next
           three months (40 per cent).
        -  Similar to previous months, higher asset households, with
           investable assets of $100K+, were most optimistic about the
           economy improving over the next three months.

    -   Investor confidence also stabilized in November 2009 as more
        investors indicated they plan to increase their investment into the
        market (20 per cent vs. 15 per cent in Oct. '09).
        -  Compared to the previous month, Atlantic investors were feeling
           more confident as 71 per cent were planning to maintain their
           current market position and 15 per cent were planning to increase
           their investments in the market (vs. 62 per cent and 6 per cent
           respectively in Oct. '09).
        -  Investors in Western Canada were most likely to increase their
           investments (23 per cent) relative to investors in Ontario (21 per
           cent) and Atlantic Canada (15 per cent).
        -  Younger investors, continued to demonstrate greater investor
           confidence, indicating they planned to increase their investments
           in the market (26 per cent of those 18-34 and 25 per cent of those
           35-55 vs.14 per cent of those 55+).

    -   Nearly Seven-in-10 investors (69 per cent) characterized their
        financial well-being as "good."
        -  Investors in Quebec and Atlantic Canada were most likely to rate
           their current financial well-being as "good" (70 per cent),
           followed by Western Canada (69 per cent) and Ontario (68 per
           cent). Atlantic Canadians were also the least likely to rate their
           financial well-being as "poor" (8 per cent).
        -  Ontario investors were the most likely to describe their financial
           well-being as "poor" (15 per cent) and the least likely to
           describe it as "good" (68 per cent).
        -  Not surprisingly, as in previous months, as the level of
           investable assets increases, those stating that their current
           financial well-being is "very good" also increased.

    * Each month, Vision Critical in partnership with Scotiabank conducts
        1,500 online interviews with Canadian investors who have $25K or more
        in investable assets. The results have been statistically weighted
        against the profile of 20,000 Canadians who are part of the Vision
        Critical Canadian Investor Panel. The Canadian Investor Panel is
        recruited from Angus Reid Forum, a nationally representative panel of
        Canadian citizens developed and managed by Vision Critical.
    

SOURCE Scotiabank

For further information: For further information: For more information or to schedule interviews with regional investment advisors: Robyn Harper, Scotiabank Public Affairs - Toronto, (416) 933-1093 or robyn_harper@scotiacapital.com; Deborah Spence, Scotiabank Public Affairs - Calgary, (403) 601-4855 or deborah.spence@scotiabank.com; For more information about the Vision Critical Canadian Investor Panel or the Wealth Management Index: Demitry Estrin, Vision Critical Financial Services - New York, (212) 402-8205 or demitry.estrin@visioncritical.com


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