Skip to main content

iStockPhoto / Getty Images

The global pandemic that has disrupted almost every aspect of life has also prompted many Canadians to look at their lives with fresh eyes.

While the lockdown may have forced people to push the pause button on some of their goals, many are emerging with ambitions large and small, according to the latest survey by CIBC.

The pandemic has sparked more than half of Canadians to re-evaluate what’s truly important in their lives,” says Laura Dottori-Attanasio, group head of personal and business banking at CIBC.

Yet, while the pandemic altered the world, 73 per cent of those surveyed said their ambitions have not changed through the course of the challenging last 20 months.

By far, the top long-term ambitions remain travel, vacations, and becoming debt-free. Around thirty per cent of respondents say travel is a lifetime ambition and 21 per cent say eliminating debt is their long-term goal.

Making positive lifestyle changes, getting back on track after the pandemic and saving for retirement round out the list of the top five ambitions identified by respondents. Other big dreams are retiring early, buying a home and fostering a healthy, happy family.

However, due to the pandemic almost three out of four Canadians are currently focusing on smaller, more practical goals.

Those include saving for unexpected emergencies and making more time for themselves (11 per cent for each), followed closely by undertaking home renovations and saving for upcoming expenses (nine per cent each).

Reaching a personal goal and achieving better work-life balance were also priorities for eight per cent of respondents.

“Goals have been impacted and put on hold for many Canadians, but a majority remain confident they will achieve them over time,” says Ms. Dottori-Attanasio. “One quarter of Canadians even got inspired through the pandemic to create a bucket list of goals and ambitions.”

Ambitions are deeply personal and carry great meaning, she says. Based on conversations that CIBC staff have with clients across Canada every day, they often involve taking care of your children, taking a dream vacation with someone close to you, or building the kind of retirement you want for yourself and your partner, she says.

None of that has changed.

“While the pandemic created disruption for many Canadians, it didn’t change their ambitions,” she says. “Every day across the country, we’re speaking with clients who are trying to keep their ambitions moving forward, but don’t know where to start or are looking to adjust their planning as their lives have evolved.”

Time, confidence, knowing where to start and life in general are challenges to achieving goals, but money is cited most often, identified by 37 per cent of those surveyed as their main hurdle.

However, there are real solutions available, says Ms. Dottori-Attanasio.

She says the path to achieving goals is rarely a straight line, and in difficult times people work hard to make changes in their lives, rather than alter their ambitions.

“It’s important to take an honest look at your finances today and determine what your goals and dreams are,” she says. “That will influence when you can realize them and how you can find the best path to get from here to there.

“Having one good conversation with an advisor can make a tremendous difference in realizing that an ambition is within your reach with the right planning.”

Over a quarter of those surveyed said they have developed better money management habits in support of their goals, including establishing emergency savings, she says.

“We have seen this in practice among our clients who’ve shown prudent management of their finances amid the challenges and uncertainties caused by the pandemic,” she says. “In general, we are now seeing greater confidence in our business and personal banking clients about the future, as they are focused on achieving goals, big and small, in the year ahead.”

Canadians under 34 are more likely to share their goals with others, believing that sharing makes it more likely they will follow through.

Most people do seek out advice, turning to family and friends but also online resources, including online financial planning tools.

The pandemic has driven unprecedented change in how CIBC clients are choosing to bank, says Ms. Dottori-Attanasio. Over 92 per cent of banking transactions are now being performed digitally.

“Clients can even kick start the goal planning process on their own online and then work with an advisor to get to build long-term plans and track their progress anytime digitally,” she adds.

The personal dreams identified by survey respondents are not unreasonable, says Ms. Dottori-Attanasio. With the right planning and advice, and the right digital tools to keep finances on track, they’re entirely achievable, she says.

“While money can’t buy happiness, we do know that those who have goals and a financial plan tend to be more confident, and that can go a long way to a contented life,” she says.

Asked what advice they would give their younger selves, those surveyed had three key pieces of advice: start saving early; follow your dreams; and be confident in yourself.

“Wise advice, indeed,” adds Ms. Dottori-Attanasio.


Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with CIBC. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.