WATERLOO, ON, Jan. 8, 2014 /CNW/ - Younger Canadians feel that they are not getting ahead financially and they shouldn't count on an inheritance according to the Manulife Financial's latest Investor Sentiment Index. The Index also showed that despite robust capital markets at pre-financial crisis levels, Canadians' overall investor sentiment remains mired in the recession.
Almost half (46 per cent) of Canadians aged 25-34 say they are worse off financially than they were two years ago while 40 per cent of those aged 35-44 say they are worse off financially. Despite that, 62 per cent of Canadians aged 25-34, say they're optimistic that they will be in a better financial position two years from now, while 60 per cent of those aged 35-44 say they remain optimistic for the future.
The latest survey results also show that it isn't likely that younger Canadians - part of a generation which has traditionally been challenged by a difficult job market and underemployment - will receive much help in the form of future inheritance. Nearly half of Canadians (43 per cent) report that they haven't given any thought to how much cash or assets they'll leave to their heirs. As many as 13 per cent say they plan to leave nothing, while more than one in four (29 per cent) say they will leave less than $100,000. Only two per cent of Canadians report that they will leave an inheritance of $1 million or more.
"The reality is that young Canadians will be the first generation to not be better off than their parents. Many Canadians haven't even thought about what cash or assets they will leave to their children," said Paul Lorentz, Executive Vice-President, Retail Markets. "Young Canadians might need some of the financial discipline of their great grandparents, those who lived through the Depression, coupled with modern financial solutions."
Investor Sentiment Index dips despite continuing market recovery
Overall, investor confidence in Canada was down slightly since May of 2013 as the Investor Sentiment Index dipped by one point, to +21. The Index is up one point from a year ago when it was +20 and it remains substantially higher than it was at the start of the economic downturn in 2008 (+5).
"In these latest results, we saw a marked change to a positive trend we've been seeing for some time," said Mr. Lorentz. "Typically, the Investor Sentiment Index follows the same general pattern as the markets, but despite the gradual recovery there, the Index slipped suggesting that Canadian investors still aren't finding much comfort in more robust markets. Canadians are still wary."
Provincially, Alberta residents appear to be Canada's most confident about investment and savings vehicles, posting an overall Investor Sentiment Index score of +30, while Quebec posted the lowest score at +8.
Maintaining current lifestyle no longer a priority for Canadians
Index results also point out that Canadian investors of all ages have made one significant shift in their financial priorities for 2014. Entering 2013, Canadians were focusing on paying down debt (top priority: 31%) while still maintaining their current lifestyle (second priority: 22%). Today, only 1% of Canadians indicate that maintaining their current lifestyle is a financial priority - a drop of 21 percent.
Regardless of income or age, Canadians' top financial priority for 2014 is to pay down debt (29 per cent), followed by reducing spending (11 per cent), saving for retirement (9 per cent), saving for a rainy day (8 per cent) and paying down a mortgage (8 per cent.)
"We're seeing that debt management, reducing spending and saving are, more than ever, top of mind for Canadians but just as importantly, that Canadians are also more aware of the financial choices they're making. They're making good financial decisions to put their finances in order for the future even knowing that they may not be able to maintain their current lifestyle because of them," added Mr. Lorentz.
Advisors make significant impact
Four in ten Canadians report having a financial advisor which proves to be one of the most significant influencers on Index score. The Investor Sentiment Index score for individuals with an advisor is +27, while it is +16 for those without an advisor.
"Clearly, having access to professional financial advice will help you stay on track," added Mr. Lorentz. "We see time and again that having an advisor is also the single most important positive influence on an individual's peace of mind with their financial position now and in the future."
Canadians with an advisor are less likely to cite paying down debt as a priority, but they are more likely to mention saving for retirement. Those who work with an advisor are also significantly more likely to feel that they are on track with their current financial goals (52 per cent vs. 36 per cent) and they are more likely to say that they are in a better financial position than they were two years ago.
About the Manulife Financial Investor Sentiment Index
The Manulife Financial Investor Sentiment Index is a semi-annual measure of investors' views on a range of asset classes and savings and investment vehicles, as well as their confidence in these areas. The index is based on an online survey of 2,000 Canadians aged 25+ that was conducted November 12-22 by Research House, an Environics Company. A national probability sample of this size would have a margin of error of +/-2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
About Manulife Financial
Manulife Financial is a leading Canada-based financial services group with principal operations in Asia, Canada and the United States. Clients look to Manulife for strong, reliable, trustworthy and forward-thinking solutions for their most significant financial decisions. Our international network of employees, agents and distribution partners offers financial protection and wealth management products and services to millions of clients. We also provide asset management services to institutional customers. Funds under management by Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were C$575 billion (US$559 billion) as at September 30, 2013. The Company operates as Manulife Financial in Canada and Asia and primarily as John Hancock in the United States.
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.
SOURCE: Manulife Financial Corporation