A new wealth-management report card suggests that people from Saskatchewan are the most successful Canadians when it comes to financial planning.
Saskatchewanians scored 72.9 out of 100 on a national index based on an online poll conducted for the Bank of Montreal's wealth management arm. The national average is 69.3.
The survey asked respondents to self-report on several components of their overall financial situation, including whether they keep a regularly updated financial plan; their retirement savings and household debts and assets; and whether they have insurance and rainy-day savings.
In second place were Quebeckers, with a score of 71.1; Alberta was third, posting a 70.6, and Newfoundland and Labrador came in fourth with 70.4.
Surprisingly, given sky-high real estate values in Toronto and Vancouver, as well as relatively high average incomes, Ontario ranked 6th (69.2) and British Columbia 9th (66.3).
New Brunswick was last at 58.9.
"In a typical measure of wealth you'd probably find Ontario and B.C. numbers one and two," Betsey Chung, chief marketing officer, Canadian banking and wealth management at BMO Financial Group, said.
But the just-launched index takes a host of factors into consideration and uses a wider lens to look at how financially well-organized – and, critically – how well-prepared Canadians are for major unforeseen events, she said.
"You could have a very solid debt/asset combination but there are some families that perhaps don't have a financial plan for the future and might not be prepared for what is to come, such as a life or market change," Ms. Chung said in an interview.
"Effectively managing wealth is about more than just the state of your balance sheet, it's also how you adjust to changes in your life and in the world around you – capitalizing on opportunities as they arise while securing your financial future.
"People might have a financial plan but, unfortunately, it's one of those documents you do one time and never revisit."
The survey results do not provide reasons for the rankings of the individual provinces and a deeper analysis was beyond the scope of the research, Ms. Chung said. The results are based on online interviews with a random sample of 1,403 adults, conducted by Polara between April 10 and April 13. A probability sample of this size would yield results accurate to plus or minus 2.6 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
The categories in which the respondents scored the highest were: having a financial strategy, with 81 per cent saying they do; and having a life insurance plan in place, with 66 per cent confirming they have that.
Lowest scores included the following: making sure the financial plan is effective, with 67 per cent saying they have not used a professional's help; making retirement savings a priority, with 65 per cent not deeming it a priority; and having critical illness or disability insurance, with only 35 per cent and 39 per cent, respectively, having it.
Despite the concerns over preparedness, respondents said they feel ready for unexpected significant events.
Asked how prepared they are to deal with major life changes such as getting married, the birth of a child or job loss, 62 per cent expressed confidence that they would be prepared financially.
But there is still too much complacency regarding the serious damage that events outside one's control can do, Laurie Campbell, chief executive officer of Credit Canada Debt Solutions, said.
"It doesn't matter how great your net worth is. If you live in Calgary, how long is your net worth going to last if you suddenly become unemployed?"
Residents of Alberta and Saskatchewan are particularly vulnerable to the fallout from job cuts and plummeting investment in the oil patch due to the dramatic fall in oil prices.
"I don't think Canadians are doing a very good job [of financial preparedness], " Ms. Campbell said. "It's complicated. I understand."
"We certainly can control our household financial stress," she said. "It doesn't seem we're doing that."