BMO Financial Group

BMO Financial Group

February 04, 2011 06:00 ET

This RRSP Season, It's All About the (Financial) Plan

BMO Study Reveals That, When It Comes to Financial Planning, Canadians Are Starting to Catch On

- More Than Half of Canadians Have a Financial Plan, Compared to One-Third Last Year and a Quarter the Year Before

- 91 per cent Feel Their Plan Has Helped or Will Help Them Achieve Their Financial Goals

- However, More Than 40 per cent Still Remain Without a Plan-Citing Lack of Money or Creating a Plan Is Not a Priority as the Primary Reasons

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 4, 2011) - With Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) season in full swing, BMO Financial Group today revealed the results of a survey showing that, more than ever before, Canadians understand the importance of a financial plan and the critical role it can play in realizing their investment goals. 

More than half (56 per cent) of those surveyed by Harris Decima indicated they have a financial plan. Last year, a Leger survey commissioned by BMO indicated that 34 per cent of Canadians had a plan—up from 25 per cent the year before.

The new survey also indicated that Canadians are optimistic about their financial plans, with 91 per cent of those who have a plan feeling that it has helped them or will help them achieve their financial goals. 

"Whether it be for retirement or any of life's milestones, a financial plan is critical to keeping you on track with both your savings and goals. A plan can provide clarity on what you're saving for and the best way to get there," said Caroline Dabu, Vice President, Retirement & Financial Planning Strategy, BMO Financial Group. "One of the ways to get started is by meeting with a financial planner who can help provide advice and assistance in developing a strategy to ensure your goals are met."

The study did find some sobering news, however, with nearly half of respondents (44 per cent) saying they do not have a financial plan in place. The main reasons Canadians cited for not having a financial plan were: not enough money (63 per cent); it's not a priority (35 per cent); and they don't know where to start when creating a plan (29 per cent).

"There is a common misconception that developing a financial plan requires a lot of money and extensive financial knowledge, but this is certainly not the case," said Ms. Dabu. "It's all about taking small steps, putting the first pieces into place, and having a clear financial picture."

Other Key Findings:

  • 90 per cent of respondents with a financial plan consulted someone when putting their plan together, with 73 per cent having consulted a financial planner.
  • Men are more likely than women to report having a financial plan (61 per cent versus 52 per cent respectively).
  • 72 per cent of respondents have a clear idea of what they are investing and saving for.
  • Those with a financial plan were more likely to make contributions towards their RRSPs (58 per cent) compared to those without a plan (35 per cent).

"It's encouraging that people are starting to recognize the importance of having a financial plan," concluded Ms. Dabu. "However, it's important that they understand that a financial plan is more comprehensive than just contributing regularly to an RRSP or putting money in a TFSA on an annual basis." 

Have a financial plan or thinking of putting one together in order to secure your retirement? Ms. Dabu recommends that your plan take the following into consideration:

  • Contingency Scenarios – Does your plan incorporate the possibility of unexpected life events, such as a major drop in the stock market or an unexpected illness?
  • Lifestyle Considerations – What sort of lifestyle do you envision for yourself in retirement? How much money will you need to achieve this?
  • Asset Allocation/Balancing Risk – Think about how your money is allocated among various asset classes and how the allocation may have to change as you get closer to retirement.
  • Longevity – Canadians are living longer than ever before. Does your plan take into consideration that you may spend 25-30+ years in retirement?

The online survey was conducted by Harris/Decima among 1,002 Canadian adults, between November 15-24, 2010. Results were weighted using the most recent census data to ensure responses were nationally representative.

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