Canadian investors: shaken, cautious, but optimistic

Survey reveals goals and expectations of Canadian investors

MONTREAL, Dec. 10 /CNW Telbec/ - According to results from a recent survey sponsored by Standard Life and conducted by the Gandalf Group, Canadian investors reveal that their confidence has been shaken by the recent financial market crisis, but most still expect to make solid gains over the next 12 months. But their view is still very much long term, since their primary investment objective is having enough money for retirement.

The survey was held with Canadians who buy or sell stocks, mutual funds and bonds at least once a year and hold investments in RRSPs, stocks, bonds or mutual funds. A particular focus in the analysis was placed on "Retail Investors" - those who have at least $50,000 invested.

Investors cautiously optimistic

It has been just over a year since the fall of Lehman Brothers, the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history, and the shadow of the financial market meltdown still hangs over investors. In fact, 55 per cent said they are more worried about falling behind than they are excited about getting ahead.

Nonetheless, retail investors seem optimistic about the future. They expect a respectable 8 per cent rate of return for their investments in stocks and mutual funds over the next 12 months, even though the markets have already made an impressive turnaround since the spring of this year. In fact, 73 per cent say it's "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that they will make back what they lost in their stock, mutual fund and bond portfolios. More precisely, 57 per cent believe stock market values are not likely to drop in the next 6 months and 73 per cent believe that investing in the markets over time will yield growth.

Planning for retirement is top of mind

As for investment goals, 83 per cent of retail investors said it was "very important" to have enough money for retirement. Forty-seven per cent chose having enough money to retire early as "very important". While retirement is the primary objective, 39 per cent indicated that having enough to provide for the family's education was very important and 23 per cent felt having enough money to leave an inheritance was very important.

To achieve their goals, investors seem more concerned about returns than social responsibility. For example, 57 per cent of retail investors said rate of return was a "very important" consideration when making investments, but only 28 per cent gave the same level of importance to corporate ethics, 19 per cent to good corporate citizenship, 15 per cent to environmental concerns and 11 per cent to labour relations.

"The survey makes it clear that investor confidence has been rattled by the financial market crisis," said Vincenzo Ciampi, Vice-President at Standard Life. "Nonetheless, investors expect solid gains over the next 12 months and, for the most part, expect to make back what they lost. And whether they were under 40 or over 40, they ranked retirement as their number one investment goal."

An obvious need to know more about investments

There is no time like the present to educate Canadians on financial markets, given that over half (60%) did not feel adequately knowledgeable about investing in the stock market. "It's a very good time for investors to educate themselves, to better understand their tolerance to risk and to find out what options best suit their needs. The best thing to do is to speak to a licensed advisor about their specific retirement plan," concluded Vincenzo Ciampi.

About the survey

The survey was conducted online with 1105 Canadian adults (representative of age, gender and region), between October 8 and October 14, 2009. Results of this survey are broadcast in partnership with BNN. The Gandalf Group is a leading provider of public opinion research and strategic communications advice, with offices in Toronto and Ottawa. More information pertaining to the survey and the Gandalf Group can be obtained at www.gandalfgroup.ca.

About Standard Life

Standard Life is a major asset managing group originating from Scotland and operating across the globe. Established in 1825, Standard Life provides retirement, investment and insurance products to over 6.5 million customers worldwide. The group has around 10,000 employees across the U.K., Canada, Ireland, Germany, Austria, India, Hong Kong and mainland China. It had $278.9 billion in assets under administration, as at June 30, 2009.

In 2006, after 80 years as a mutual company, The Standard Life Assurance Company demutualized and Standard Life plc was listed on the London Stock Exchange. Standard Life now has approximately 1.5 million individual shareholders in over 50 countries.

In Canada, Standard Life has been doing business for more than 175 years. Standard Life Financial Inc., which wholly owns The Standard Life Assurance Company of Canada, is Standard Life plc's largest operation outside the U.K. With 2,000 employees based in Montréal and across Canada, it serves more than 1.3 million Canadians, including group insurance and pension plan participants. It had $33.7 billion of assets under administration, as at June 30, 2009.

SOURCE Standard Life

For further information: For further information: Ann-Marie Gagné, Manager, External Communications and Public Affairs, Standard Life, 1-877-499-9555, ext. 4600, (514) 499-7999, ext. 4600, ann-marie.gagne@standardlife.ca; Note to editors: A summary of the survey results is available upon request.

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