CIBC Poll: For the fifth year in a row, Canadians say paying down debt is their top financial priority for the coming year

Annual poll reveals retirement planning is increasingly taking a back seat to more immediate financial needs; debt repayment jumps even further for boomers

TORONTO, Dec. 30, 2014 /CNW/ - A new poll from CIBC (TSX: CM) (NYSE: CM) by Nielsen finds that paying down debt remains the top financial priority for Canadians in 2015, the fifth year in a row it has topped the list in the annual survey. The poll results also show that retirement planning is declining in importance compared to more immediate financial concerns. Canadians nearing retirement age have also significantly shifted their focus to reducing debt.

Over the last five years of the CIBC poll, Canadians identified the following as their top financial priorities for the year ahead:

  2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
Paying Down Debt 22% 16% 17% 17% 14%
Building Savings 12% 11% 10% 10% 10%
Paying Bills / Getting By 10% 8% 7% 3% --
Managing Day-to-Day Spending / Budgeting 9% 8% 8% 14% 12%
Retirement Planning 5% 7% 7% 11% 13%

"Not only have Canadians told us debt repayment is their number one financial priority for five years running, for 2015 we see an even greater number of Canadians focused on better managing debt in the year ahead," says Christina Kramer, Executive Vice President, Retail and Business Banking, CIBC. "While it is encouraging that paying down debt is important to Canadians, it is also important not to lose sight of longer term goals like retirement planning."

Boomers still focused on debt as they get closer to retirement

The poll also found that paying down debt has become an increasingly important priority for those nearing retirement age, with Canadians aged 45-64 prioritizing debt repayment substantially higher vs. last year:

  • Among 45-54 year olds, 31 per cent said debt repayment was their top financial priority for 2015, compared to just 16 per cent in last year's poll
  • Among 55-64 year olds, 25 per cent said debt repayment was their number one financial priority, compared to 14 per cent last year

"We've seen debt repayment close to doubling in importance for age groups that would typically be in their peak retirement savings years, but it is important that they don't put off retirement planning indefinitely," says Ms. Kramer. "The good news is that by getting advice and taking small steps now, you can still focus on your retirement savings at the same time as you tackle your debt."

Opportunity to make greater progress

While more Canadians are focusing on debt repayment, the poll also revealed that less than half of Canadians (45 per cent) met with an advisor in 2014, a slight decrease from last year's poll (47 per cent).

"Sitting down with an advisor and creating a solid financial plan remains the key to helping many Canadians get ahead of their debt and reach their broader financial goals in 2015," says Ms. Kramer.

Advice on Delivering on Financial Priorities:

  • Talk to an Advisor - Most Canadians don't think about making debt reduction the topic of a conversation with an advisor, but it can help you make progress on paying down debt by looking at your overall financial picture and putting realistic steps in place to reduce interest costs and accelerate debt repayment.

  • Recognize that your finances are all connected - Making progress on one aspect of your financial goals can lead to an opportunity to improve in others, meaning you don't have to focus on just one priority at a time. For example, a reduction in debt can free up funds to go towards retirement savings, or to further accelerate debt reduction.

  • Don't lose sight of the longer term - While it is important to address immediate financial needs such as debt reduction, it is equally important to keep future goals such as retirement in sight. Even small contributions today can make it easier in future years to reach your retirement savings goals.

  • Stick to your plan - Once you have a plan in place, stick to it. If you fall off track, get back to your plan as soon as possible and keep making progress towards your goal.

Each week, Nielsen interviews just over 1000 Canadians through teleVox, the company's national telephone omnibus survey. These results were gathered from a sample of 1,014 Canadians between November 13 and 17, 2014.  A sample of this size has a margin of error of +/-3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

About CIBC

CIBC is a leading Canadian-based global financial institution with nearly 11 million personal banking and business clients. Through our three major business units - Retail and Business Banking, Wealth Management and Wholesale Banking - CIBC offers a full range of products and services through its comprehensive electronic banking network, branches and offices across Canada with offices in the United States and around the world. You can find other news releases and information about CIBC in our Media Centre on our corporate website at


For further information:

Caroline Van Hasselt, Director, External Communications, 416-784-6699 or

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