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Do we crave or fear retiring? Depends on the survey

If it's January, it must be retirement-survey season.

A slew of polls and studies on retirement have been published in recent weeks, many with the familiar refrain -- "Canadians aren't prepared! Let us manage your finances!"

Yet despite the self-serving tone, the polls (at least, those with sufficient sample sizes) yield interesting insights into how people are feeling about retirement. This is, after all, the year the first of the baby boomers turn 65 -- the beginning of a wave of the population having to make decisions about whether to stop working, how to make their money stretch and what to do with new found free time.

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Here's a snapshot of what some of the surveys are telling us:

-- A third of boomers (those aged 45 to 64) have a retirement plan, according to TD Waterhouse. Two thirds are worried they won't have enough money and only 15 per cent feel very well prepared.

-- Incredibly, in that survey, nearly a third of respondents said they're "relying on a winning a lottery ticket." This seems somewhat worrisome, given the odds of scoring a jackpot. TD's spokeswoman says some who selected that answer did so in jest, but that it does show people "are feeling anxious and hopeless about having enough money to retire."

-- Four in ten Canadians with a group savings and retirement plan don't know what their future retirement income will be, and a similar proportion don't know if their current rate of retirement saving will meet their future income needs, according to survey conducted for Standard Life.

-- It also found that workplace retirement plan statements are not widely used because they are hard to understand and lack personalized recommendations and specific suggestions to improve retirement income.

-- Seven in 10 Canadians plan to keep on working after reaching retirement age, Bank of Nova Scotia's poll showed. Most want to keep working to stay mentally active, with others saying they want to remain socially connected. Thirty-eight per cent say they'll keep working out of financial need.

-- The portion of retirees without the financial resources to replace three-quarters of their pre-retirement consumption could rise sharply in the next 40 years, a study released last month by the C.D. Howe Institute said. It found that proportion could grow to more than two in five, from about one in six currently. "Future retirees will increasingly find maintaining their working-life consumption in retirement more difficult," it said.

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-- Of those who plan to retire within the next five years – a third still feel they haven't put aside enough money, the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants' survey shows. The top reason for not socking away enough for retirement? Insufficient funds.

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About the Author

Tavia Grant has worked at The Globe and Mail since early 2005, covering topics from employment and currency markets to trade, microfinance and Latin American economies. She previously worked for Bloomberg News in Toronto and Zurich, writing on mining, stocks, currencies and secret Swiss bank accounts. More

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