Nine of every 10 RRSP contributors expect to invest as much or more for 2003 tax year: Manulife Investments poll

TORONTO, Dec. 18, 2003 – An overwhelming majority of Canadians plan to boost or match their previous contributions to Registered Retirement Savings Plans for the 2003 tax year, according to a survey for Manulife Investments, the wealth management arm of one of Canada’s leading financial services companies.

Almost nine of 10 Canadians (89 per cent) who plan to contribute to their RRSPs expect to invest the same amount or more for the current tax year, compared to a year earlier. Sixty-six per cent expect to match their contribution, while 23 per cent plan to invest more than the 2002 tax year. Ten per cent will set aside less.

“Canadians generally remain focused on their long-term investment goals and we’ve seen this remain constant through some very trying times,” said Bruce Gordon, Manulife Financial Executive Vice President and General Manager of Canadian Operations. “In many ways, it’s been a tough year with challenges from hurricane Juan, to SARS, to forest fires. Yet Canadians continue to show they are resilient, well-diversified and willing to seek expert advice. This poll certainly suggests they’re holding to their long-term goals.”

Majority hold their course

Despite strong changes in equity markets this year, 62 per cent of investors surveyed said they altered none of their holdings — that’s up slightly from 59 per cent a year ago. Another 27 per cent changed a few investments, (compared to 30 per cent in 2002), while eight per cent said they changed all or many of their investments. When it comes to their overall investment style, 74 per cent said they’ve made no changes, an improvement from 69 per cent a year earlier.

Ownership of individual RRSPs is also increasing, with more than half (55 per cent) of 1,006 people polled by Synovate, a global research firm with operations in nearly 50 countries, indicating they have an individual RRSP. That’s up from 50 per cent in a similar poll a year ago.

About 18 per cent belong to group RRSPs, while 41 per cent invest in mutual funds, 29 per cent have term deposits and guaranteed investment certificates, 22 per cent hold stocks, and 19 per cent invest in bonds.

RRSP Contributions

Some 47 per cent of RRSP contributors expect to invest less than $3,000 for the current tax year, while 17 per cent predict they will set aside between $3,000 and $5,000. Another 17 per cent will contribute more than $5,000, while 13 per cent said they don’t know how much will go into their RRSPs.

Advice, goals

When it comes to financial advice, 43 per cent said they work with a financial advisor or planner, with affluent Canadians the most likely to seek financial advice. Some 58 per cent of households with incomes of $70,000 or more report working with a financial advisor. That percentage fell to 49 per cent among those earning between $40,000 and $70,000, compared to 31 per cent of those with household incomes between $20,000 and $40,000.

“Advisors play an important role helping Canadians make better financial decisions and, at the same time, they also need to be sure to meet their clients’ needs and goals,” added Eric Grove, Vice President Investment Funds, Manulife Financial.

“There is a very wide range of opinions and experience among investors,” Mr. Grove added, “which means that most successful advisors will become extremely familiar with their clients’ overall goals and their personal views and goals toward investing.”

Investment goals

The largest group of those surveyed – almost three-quarters of investors (74 per cent) – said their short or long-term goals include planning for a comfortable retirement. The second most-cited goal (by 67 per cent) was planning for family in case of an illness or death, followed by making charitable donations (65 per cent), reducing taxes (59 per cent); building a portfolio (58 per cent); and early retirement (53 per cent).

The majority of investors are confident of reaching their investment goals (57 per cent), while 30 per cent said they are uncertain, along with another nine per cent who are worried about fulfilling their goals.

Of those polled who do not have a financial advisor or planner, the largest group (64 per cent) said their main reason for going it on their own is to personally manage their financial affairs.

Poll results released today are based on a Synovate survey of 1,006 Canadians (18 years and older) between November 26 and November 30, 2003. The overall results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

About Manulife Investments

Manulife Investments is the brand name describing certain Canadian subsidiaries and operating divisions of Manulife Financial Corporation that offer personal wealth management products and services in Canada. As one of Canada’s leading integrated financial services providers, Manulife Investments offers a variety of products and services including segregated funds, mutual funds, annuities and guaranteed investment contracts.

About Manulife Financial

Manulife Financial is a leading Canadian-based financial services group operating in 15 countries and territories worldwide. Through its extensive network of employees, agents and distribution partners, Manulife Financial offers clients a diverse range of financial protection products and wealth management services. Funds under management by Manulife Financial were Cdn$150.8 billion as at September 30, 2003.

Manulife Financial Corporation trades as ‘MFC’ on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under ‘0945’ on the SEHK. Manulife Financial can be found on the Internet at

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