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BMO Financial Group

October 28, 2014 06:00 ET

BMO Annual Financial Literacy Report Card: 94 per cent of Canadians Give Themselves a Passing Grade

- Canadians feel more confident about their personal finance knowledge than ever before

- They're least knowledgeable when it comes to investing

- Overall, Canadians fall short on retirement planning and feel hesitant to discuss personal finance with their children

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Oct. 28, 2014) - When it comes to their financial literacy, the majority of Canadians (94 per cent) give themselves a passing grade, according to BMO's 4th Annual Financial Literacy Month survey. Of that number, 56 per cent give themselves an "A" or "B" grade, compared to 45 per cent last year.

The report, prepared by Pollara, also revealed that most Canadians (56 per cent) feel they would benefit from an introductory course covering personal finance basics.

"With the myriad of financial considerations affecting the lives of Canadians, ensuring that we have the necessary level of financial literacy - the knowledge, skills and confidence to make responsible financial decisions - is absolutely essential," said L. Jacques Ménard, Chairman of BMO Nesbitt Burns and President of BMO Financial Group Quebec, who served as Vice-Chair for the Canadian Task Force on Financial Literacy. "Financial literacy is an issue affecting Canadians at every stage of life and creating awareness is key, not only during Financial Literacy Month, but all year."

Canadians Know More about Healthy Diets than Investing

  • Eighty-two per cent feel knowledgeable about healthy diets, while 56 per cent feel knowledgeable about investing and only 10 per cent feel very knowledgeable
  • Knowledge of other aspects of financial management fared much better than investing, with 88 per cent feeling knowledgeable about budgeting household expenses and managing debt

Retirement Planning, Educating the Next Generation on Personal Finance Remain Shortfalls

  • Despite believing they will need close to one million dollars to retire ($965,913), less than half of Canadian households have a financial plan (43 per cent) that would help them get there
  • The majority of Canadians would rather talk to their children about the facts of life than they would about their financial situation (59 per cent vs. 41 per cent respectively)

"The improved financial capability results are encouraging and a testament to the work that is being done to support improved financial literacy in Canada," said Gary Rabbior, President of the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education (CFEE). "Working with BMO on programs like Talk With Our Kids About Money Day, we believe we are making a difference - getting more parents and teachers involved in talking with our kids, getting traction with higher participation in programs and beginning to build a real foundation for improved financial capability in the future. While there is still a lot of work ahead, momentum is moving in the right direction."

Financial Institutions Lead as Source of Financial Knowledge

  • Financial institutions continue to be the best source of financial information, with 80 per cent of respondents stating they do a good job providing advice on personal finance matters
  • About half (49 per cent) of Canadians feel the media adequately provides financial information, followed by government bodies (45 per cent) and the education system (38 per cent)

Regional Breakdown: How Canadians graded themselves

Financial Literacy Grade Total Atlantic Canada Quebec Ontario Prairies Alberta BC
A 13 % 14 % 10 % 16 % 9 % 12 % 12 %
B 43 % 26 % 50 % 42 % 38 % 44 % 47 %
C 30 % 40 % 25 % 30 % 42 % 32 % 29 %
D 7 % 14 % 6 % 8 % 6 % 5 % 6 %
F 4 % 4 % 4 % 4 % 2 % 4 % 3 %

BMO is proud to support the efforts of the federal government on Financial Literacy and the recent appointment of Jane Rooney as Canada's first Financial Literacy Leader. The bank is working closely with Canada's Minister of State for Finance, Kevin Sorensen, Canada's Financial Literacy Leader and the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada as they develop a National Strategy for Financial Literacy.

The survey was conducted by Pollara between October 11th and October 16th, 2014, with an online sample of 1,215 Canadians. The margin of error for a probability sample of this size is ± 2.8%, 19 times out of 20.

About BMO and Financial Literacy Month

As Canada heads into the 4th annual Financial Literacy Month, BMO Financial Group has released its fourth annual BMO Financial Literacy Report Card, exploring Canadians' personal finance knowledge and understanding.

The report is issued as BMO and CFEE enter their fourth year of collaboration to break down barriers facing Canadians and their financial education. In 2012, the two partnered to launch the Talk With Our Kids About Money program, a national initiative that continues to improve financial literacy today. For more on Talk With Our Kids About Money, please visit http://talkwithourkidsaboutmoney.com/. Canadians can also visit the Government of Canada's Financial Literacy Month website, as well as BMO's Financial Literacy online resource.

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly-diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $549 billion as at July 31, 2013, and more than 46,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.

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