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The Mississauga, Ont., home of David Small. Over the course of his career as a custom home designer, Mr. Small has tailored his work to fit the tastes of all manner of clients. He has done Arts and Crafts bungalows, Tudor mansions, French Provincial chateaux and Cape Cod cottages.But when the time came to fashion a new 3,800-square-foot dwelling for himself, his wife and twin daughters, Mr. Small threw that popular book out the window and took a chance on modernism.

Jason Hartog

A majority of affluent Canadians say they are better off now than they were in pre-recession days, according to the results of a new survey.

Fifty-four per cent of high-net-worth individuals in a poll conducted for BMO Harris Private Banking said they feel more financially secure than they did before the 2008 downturn.

Only 11 per cent said they are worse off and 36 per cent stated that their financial status has not changed.

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U.S. respondents to the same survey were a little more positive: 61 per cent said they are doing better now and only 7 per cent said they are in worse shape financially.

High-net-worth individuals are defined as those with assets of $1-million or more.

Close to half of Canadians polled – 47 per cent – said they expect Canada's economy to improve this year, and 61 per cent expressed optimism about the future of the U.S. economy.

In contrast, affluent Americans surveyed have a brighter outlook for Canada: 61 per cent said they expect increased prosperity for Canada.

Only 19 per cent of Canadians polled see the difficult economic conditions in Europe improving and 55 per cent anticipate things getting better in Asia.

"High-net-worth Canadians clearly feel they have bounced back well from the 2008 downturn and are fairly upbeat about what the future has in store for Canada's economy," Alex Dousmanis-Curtis, senior vice-president and head of BMO Private Banking, said in a news release Thursday.

"However, we're also hearing from many of our clients that they remain somewhat concerned about global market fluctuations. They want to work with us to insulate their wealth – as best as possible – against a downturn."

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Other results of the survey:

• 86 per cent of affluent Canadians polled said they are comfortable with their current savings and investment plans.

• 70 per cent expect the most solid returns over the next five years to come from stocks, compared with 39 per cent for real estate and 19 per cent for cash.

• The affluent like the financial – 76 per cent – and energy – 75 per cent – sectors for best returns; only 30 per cent believe in manufacturing, compared with 50 per cent in the U.S.

• They are spending at higher levels than – or at the same levels as – they were in pre-2008 days.

The online survey was conducted by Pollara between March 28 and April 11, 2013, based on a sample of 305 Canadians and 482 U.S. citizens with at least $1-million in investable assets. The margin of error for a sample of this size is plus or minus 5.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20 for Canadian results and plus or minus 4.5 points, 19 times out of 20 for U.S. results.

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