Sun Life Financial surveys find Canadians more optimistic than Americans about their retirement prospects



    
    Majority of Canadians also say they want guaranteed retirement income to
    protect their savings
    

    TORONTO, Feb. 23 /CNW/ - Canadian workers are feeling more confident than
their American neighbours about the economy, personal finances, health,
employer and government benefits according to findings recently released from
Sun Life Financial's Canadian and American Unretirement(TM) Index surveys.
    However, the picture isn't entirely rosy for workers north of the border.
Almost one-third of Canadians are not at all satisfied with how much they are
saving for retirement, and one in 11 say they actually dipped into their
retirement savings in recent months due to the economy - that's on par with
the number of Americans who have withdrawn money from their retirement
nest-eggs.
    "We asked Canadian and American workers about the key drivers impacting
their retirement and in every category, Canadians had a more positive
outlook," said Dean Connor, President, Sun Life Financial Canada. "However,
the fact that so many Canadians had to withdraw money from their retirement
savings so soon into this downturn indicates how challenging it is for some,
and signals a concern for the future."
    Canadians are also more confident than Americans when it comes to being
able to pay for health care costs in retirement, though neither group is fully
confident. According to the surveys, 37 per cent of Canadians feel very
confident that they would be able to handle medical expenses at the age they
retire, compared to 23 per cent of Americans. Less than half of Canadians
polled have checked to see what health or dental benefits are available to
them once they retire.
    Along with preparing for health care costs in retirement, the recent
economic downturn may have Canadians rethinking their retirement investments
with three in four respondents indicating they want part of their retirement
income guaranteed so their income is protected. Interestingly, the percentage
of people who wanted guaranteed income in retirement was above 70 per cent
across all age groups surveyed.
    "Today's economic climate has Canadians of all ages looking for
investment solutions that will protect their hard-earned retirement savings
from worries of market volatility, inflation and outliving their assets," said
Connor. "There are products in the marketplace, like SunWise Elite Plus, that
address all of these concerns and include a guaranteed minimum withdrawal
benefit that provides guaranteed, sustainable income during retirement along
with the potential for growth. A financial advisor can take into account all
aspects of retirement and help develop a plan that works for each individual
situation."
    According to the survey, respondents with financial advisors were
consistently more optimistic about retirement planning than those without.
Canadians who work with a financial advisor not only felt more confident when
it comes to personal finances, but around all aspects that influence
retirement including health, the economy and employer and government benefits.

    Measuring Canadians' confidence about retirement

    The Sun Life Financial Canadian Unretirement(TM) Index measures the
confidence that Canadian workers have towards issues that influence
retirement. The first of multiple studies yielded an overall index score of 50
on a scale of 0 to 100. The U.S. index was a more pessimistic score of 44.
    For both the Canadian and American Sun Life indices, the overall score is
a composite of the performance of five issue-specific sub-indices.

    
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                    Sun Life Financial Canadian  Sun Life Financial American
                       Unretirement(TM) Index       Unretirement(SM) Index
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Macroeconomic Index           40                           33
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Personal Finance Index        46                           41
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Personal Health Index         70                           67
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Government Benefits Index     45                           40
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Employer Benefits Index       47                           38
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Overall Unretirement Index    50                           44
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    

    For more information about Sun Life Financial's Canadian Unretirement(TM)
Index, visit www.sunlife.ca/unretirementindex.
    For more information about Sun Life Financial's American Unretirement(SM)
Index, visit www.sunlife-usa.com/unretirementindex.

    Canadian Unretirement(TM) Index Methodology

    The Canadian study was conducted by Fleishman Hillard from December 8 to
23, 2008. Telephone interviews were conducted by Interviewing Service of
America using a random-digit dial (RDD) sampling method. Quotas and weights
were applied to gather a sample of 1,226 people working either full- or
part-time, which is representative of the Canadian working population between
the ages of 30 and 65. The sample is also representative in terms of gender
and region census break. Analysis and construction of indices involved the
application of factor analysis. Final indices are based on summated averages
across the attributes which make up an index.
    Age groups were divided by workers in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60+ and by
three ranges of total assets, not including the net worth of the person's
place of residence (less than $100K, between $100K and $500K, and greater than
$500K). This sample has a margin of error of 2.9 per cent at the 95 per cent
confidence level.

    American Unretirement(SM) Index Methodology

    This edition of the study was conducted between December 3 and 14, 2008.
Telephone interviews were conducted by Interviewing Service of America using a
random-digit dial (RDD) sampling method. Quotas and weights were applied to
gather a sample of 1,200 people working either full- or part-time, which was
representative of the U.S. working population between the ages of 30 and 66.
The sample was also representative in terms of gender and four-region census
break. Analysis and construction of indices involved the application of factor
analysis. Final indices are based on summated averages across the attributes
which make up an index.
    Age groups were divided by workers in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60+ and by
three ranges of total assets, not including the net worth of the person's
place of residence (less than U.S. $100K, between U.S. $100K and U.S. $500K,
and greater than U.S. $500K). This sample has a margin of error of 2.8 per
cent at the 95 per cent confidence interval.

    About Sun Life Financial

    Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services
organization providing a diverse range of protection, wealth accumulation
products and services to individuals and corporate customers. Chartered in
1865, Sun Life Financial and its partners today have operations in key markets
worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland,
Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China and Bermuda. As of
December 31, 2008, the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets
under management of CDN$381 billion.
    Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and
Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under ticker symbol SLF.
    For more information on Sun Life Financial, visit www.sunlife.ca.





For further information:

For further information: Krista Wilson, Manager, Corporate
Communications, Sun Life Financial, (519) 888-3900 x4896,
krista.wilson@sunlife.com


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