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BMO Financial Group

February 12, 2014 06:04 ET

BMO Fourth Annual Valentine's Day RRSP Study: Canadian Couples at Odds on Who's the (Retirement Planning) Boss

- Both men and women in relationships think they are in charge of key retirement decisions

- Eighty-seven per cent of couples report having had a conversation about retirement, yet only a quarter of couples have had a detailed discussion

- Conflict over finances identified as the #1 potential threat to a happy marriage

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Feb. 12, 2014) - According to BMO's Fourth Annual Valentine's Day RRSP Study, Canadian couples are not on the same page in terms of who they feel is the lead decision maker on retirement planning issues. Further, while 87 per cent of those who are married or in a serious relationship reported that they have had a discussion with their partner about retirement, just a quarter have had a detailed discussion and fewer than half have covered key topics such as what their ideal retirement will look like and how they will achieve their retirement goals.

When asked who is the key decision maker on retirement-related issues, the study found that:

  • Men in a relationship are twice as likely to consider themselves the key decision maker compared to their partner (41 per cent think they are the boss, 15 per cent think their partner is the boss).
  • However, women are also more likely to consider themselves the key decision maker compared to their partner (32 per cent think they are the boss, 19 per cent think their partner is the boss).

The same holds true when asked who is more focused on saving for retirement:

  • Men in a relationship are twice as likely to consider themselves more focused on saving compared to their partner (42 per cent think they are more focused, 19 per cent think their partner is more focused).
  • Women are also twice as likely to consider themselves to be more focused on saving compared to their partner (44 per cent think they are more focused, 21 per cent think their partner is more focused).

"Our study has revealed that there's a clear disconnect with regards to who's taking the lead on retirement-related issues among Canadian couples," said Chris Buttigieg, Senior Manager, Wealth Planning Strategy, BMO Financial Group. "If both partners in a relationship feel they're calling the shots and they have different views, then there's going to be conflict at some point down the road. It's critical to communicate, be open to compromise and be prepared to talk frankly about financial issues, including your plans for retirement and how they'll be funded."

He said/She said - Who's the better retirement saver?

According to the study, there appears to be a lot of finger pointing among Canadian couples on retirement-related issues:

  • Men in a relationship are twice as likely to point a finger at their partner for spending too much money instead of saving for retirement (37 per cent blame their partner, 23 per cent take ownership of the issue). Men are also twice as likely to blame their partner for not taking saving for retirement seriously (35 per cent blame their partner, 18 per cent take ownership).
  • Women in a relationship are also more likely to accuse their partner for spending too much money instead of saving for retirement (36 per cent blame their partner, 25 per cent take ownership). Women are also twice as likely to blame their partner for not taking saving for retirement seriously (39 per cent blame their partner, 21 per cent take ownership).

The study also examined what Canadians think are the top reasons which could cause a couple to divorce; 68 per cent identified conflict over finances, ahead of infidelity (60 per cent) and disagreements about family (36 per cent).

"Money has the potential to be a source of tension and conflict for any couple, regardless of the amount they have," said Mr. Buttigieg. "While being open and honest with each other on financial matters is a good first step in building a happy fiscal union, it's also important to work together to develop a financial plan which takes into consideration your individual and joint goals and helps set the two of you up for a lifetime of financial, and marital, success."

Regional Breakdown

Region % of couples who have discussed retirement % of couples who have had a detailed discussion about retirement % of couples who have discussed how they will achieve their retirement goals % of couples who have discussed what their ideal retirement lifestyle will look like % who think finances contribute to divorce
National 87 25 45 48 68
Atlantic 89 27 48 49 72
Quebec 81 25 41 45 53
Ontario 91 25 45 49 74
Prairies 77 24 43 46 62
Alberta 85 22 43 53 76
B.C. 89 25 54 47 71

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

Get the latest BMO press releases via Twitter by following @BMOmedia.

The survey was conducted by Pollara with an online sample of 1,001 Canadians 18 years of age and over, between January 24th and January 28th, 2014.

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