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BMO Financial Group

March 02, 2016 07:00 ET

BMO Annual Post-RRSP Deadline Study: Contribution Levels Remain Steady From Last Year

- Fifty-three per cent of Canadians contributed before the February 29 deadline, down slightly from 57 per cent last year

- The average contribution amount was $4,117, up slightly from $3,737 last year

- One third of Canadians who expect to receive a tax refund after making an RRSP contribution will save or invest the money

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - March 2, 2016) - Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) contribution levels among Canadians have remained steady from last year, according to BMO Financial Group's annual Post-RRSP Deadline Study issued today. The study found that 53 per cent of Canadians contributed to their RRSP before the February 29 deadline, down from 57 per cent this time last year and 65 per cent in 2014.

While the number of Canadians who contributed is down slightly from last year, the amount that Canadians have contributed has increased. On average, Canadians contributed $4,117 this year compared to $3,737 in 2015 and $3,518 in 2014.

The BMO study also looked at the impact that recent market volatility had on Canadians' decisions to contribute. Forty-two per cent reported that market volatility played no role while 37 per cent stated that it did; 19 per cent indicated that market volatility caused them to contribute more, while 18 per cent said they contributed less.

"RRSPs are one of the most tax-efficient ways one can save for retirement so it's great to see that the majority of Canadians are taking advantage of the program this year," said Robert Armstrong, Vice President, BMO Global Asset Management. "Market volatility can often create confusion and uncertainty about whether or not to invest. Rather than avoid making a contribution and losing out on potential returns from your RRSP investments, it's a good idea to consult a financial professional who can provide guidance on how to navigate the current market environment."

Mr. Armstrong added that, to help Canadians save for retirement and build their wealth, BMO Investments Inc. offers BMO SelectTrust™ Portfolios and BMO ETF Portfolios. The Portfolios are professionally managed and designed to fit different investment styles and risk levels, which allows clients to choose a portfolio that is best suited to their individual investment goals.

How will Canadians spend their RRSP tax refund?

The study also found that one third of Canadians who expect to receive a tax refund from the Canada Revenue Agency after making an RRSP contribution will save or invest the money. This is down slightly from 34 per cent in 2015 and 36 per cent in 2014. Other ways they will spend their tax refund include:

  • Paying down a mortgage (16 per cent, compared to 15 per cent last year)
  • Home renovations (14 per cent, compared to 13 per cent last year)
  • Travel or leisure items (13 per cent, up slightly from 11 per cent last year)

"Receiving a tax refund as a result of RRSP contributions is always a welcome bonus to one's cash flow. It's important for Canadians to have a strategy for how they will spend this money. It could be an excellent opportunity to grow savings or get ahead on paying down outstanding debt," said Mr. Armstrong.

Regional Breakdown:

Region % who made an RRSP contribution (2015 tax year vs. 2014 tax year) Average $ amount contributed (2015 tax year vs. 2014 tax year) % who said market volatility impacted their decision to contribute to their RRSP % who did not have enough money to contribute (2015 tax year vs. 2014 tax year) % who plan to save or invest tax refund (2015 tax year vs. 2014 tax year)
National 53/57 4,117/3,737 37 37/38 33/34
Atlantic 45/46 3,467/3,657 28 24/44 22/29
Quebec 47/56 3,539/2,961 36 44/23 31/40
Ontario 56/58 4,761/3,717 36 33/45 38/31
Prairies 53/51 3,668/4,467 34 39/45 29/38
Alberta 59/60 3,907/5,574 36 54/35 31/37
B.C. 53/61 3,704/3,470 41 31/42 32/29

The survey was conducted by Pollara with an online sample of 1,000 Canadians 18 years of age and over, between February 22th and 24th, 2016. A probability sample of 1,000 would yield results accurate to ± 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20. Results have been weighted using the latest census data to be representative of Canadians as a whole.

For more information on planning for retirement, please visit www.bmo.com/retirement.

For more information on investing, please visit www.bmo.com/selecttrust.

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About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817, BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified financial services provider based in North America. With total assets of $699 billion as of January 31, 2016, and close to 47,000 employees, BMO provides a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and services to more than 12 million customers and conducts business through three operating groups: Personal and Commercial Banking, Wealth Management and BMO Capital Markets.

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