Canadians prioritizing financial wellness planning in pandemic economy: survey

After nine months of uncertainty in the financial markets and with no end in sight to the coronavirus pandemic, more and more Canadian workers are worrying about life after retirement, according to a new survey by Manulife Investment Management.

It found financial woes are taking a toll on workers, with a 16 per cent rise (to 27 per cent) in the number of individuals reporting high levels of financial stress since the beginning of the pandemic. As a result, more than half of respondents noted they were interested in retirement and investment planning advice.

Read: Pandemic boosting relevance of financial wellness offerings: survey

“Given the upheaval experienced in 2020 to date, it’s no surprise that retirement savers are more stressed today than they were pre-COVID,” said Sue Reibel, global head of retirement at Manulife Investment Management, in a press release.

“The silver lining in this year’s data is that people are more open to financial advice than in years past. . . . Stress is high and responsibilities are piling up, and retirement investors are looking for a trusted source of advice when it comes to navigating their finances.”

As the pandemic stretched on, about 51 per cent of Canadian survey respondents said they reached into their emergency savings or increased their credit card limits to make ends meet. Indeed, only a third said they see their financial situations improving over the next year.

Read: Financial wellness more important than ever during coronavirus

In this environment, 75 per cent of survey respondents said an employer-sponsored financial wellness program would alleviate their stress and 90 per cent said they feel it’s important for employers to offer these programs. However, in Canada, only 30 per cent of employees said their employers offer a fairly or very extensive financial wellness program and nearly one in five said they’re unsure of whether or not their employer offers a program at all.

“This year has challenged employers and employees alike to do business and work in novel ways,” said Brett Marchand, head of Canada retirement at Manulife Investment Management. He noted employers are in a unique position to support their employees through advice and guidance by way of a holistic financial wellness offering.


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