Canadian investors playing it safe: Survey

Quebecers are the least likely to invest, while Albertans are stepping up to the plate.

Investment confidence may be down across the country, but Canadians are more optimistic about their financial futures, according to a report released Monday.

The Manulife Financial Sentiment Index, conducted twice a year, dipped one-point to +21 indicating that Canadians are playing it safe with their investments. The survey rates confidence levels on a range of asset classes, savings and investment vehicles, as well as uncovering financial priorities and retirement goals.

Quebecers are by far the most skeptical with a rating of just +8, just three points higher than pre-economic crisis levels of +5 in 2008, yet 53 per cent of residents said they were on track with their financial goals.

"It is quite surprising to see that Quebecers recorded the lowest numbers across the entire investment and savings product spectrum. We really haven't seen any reason to suggest this kind of pessimism," said Guy Couture, Manulife's Regional Vice-President of Retail Markets in a news release. "Quebecers don't believe it's a good time to put money into investment or savings products, nor do they find it a good time to be keeping cash, so maybe there are some well-padded mattresses in Quebec."

On the flip side, with a strong economy and a boost in employment, Albertans are ready to put their money where their mouths are, rating a +30 on the survey, the highest score of any province.

"Alberta's economic growth is predicted to lead the Canadian economy over the next couple of years. It may be the case that while there is a boom in the economy there and lots of jobs are being created, Albertans have fallen into a bit of a false sense of security and are spending what they make and perhaps beyond," added Couture. "It will take good savings discipline, the right financial plan and smart investments to ensure they continue to meet their financial goals."

In terms of savings, Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSA) are the vehicles of choice for the majority of Canadians with 71 per cent of residents in Manitoba and Saskatchewan giving them a thumbs' up.

Overall, nearly half of Canadians across every province reported being in a better financial position than they were two years ago.

Other survey highlights:

  • 37 per cent of Ontario residents feel on track with their current financial goals, compared with 53 per cent in Quebec and 47 per cent in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
  • 49 per cent of Manitoba and Saskatchewan residents are reporting to be in a better financial position than they were two years ago, compared with 39 per cent in Atlantic Canada and 35 per cent in Ontario and Quebec.
  • 23 per cent of BC residents are reporting to be behind on their financial goals.
  • 31 per cent of Atlantic Canadians are saying it is a good time to invest in stocks, while 28 per cent prefer segregated funds.

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