Manulife Investments poll finds most Canadians expect to reach retirement goals, plan strong RRSP contributions for 2004 tax year

TORONTO, Jan. 18, 2005 – More Canadians are gaining confidence that they’ll reach their retirement goals, as an overwhelming majority plan to boost or match their previous contributions to Registered Retirement Savings Plans, according to a survey for Manulife Investments, the wealth management
arm of one of Canada’s leading financial services companies.

Almost two-thirds (62 per cent) of Canadians surveyed by Maritz Research in late December said they are confident of reaching their retirement goals, up five percentage points from a year ago. Less than a quarter (24 per cent) said they are uncertain, down six per cent from late 2003, while another one of 10 Canadians are worried about fulfilling their goals.

Contributions to grow

More than eight of 10 Canadians (83 per cent) who expect to contribute to an RRSP will invest the same amount or more for the 2004 tax year, compared to the previous year. Sixty-one per cent say they will match their previous contributions while 22 per cent plan to invest more. (Nine per cent say they will set aside less).

“Most Canadians are extremely focused on their long-term investment and we’ve seen this continue to gain strength in our recent national surveys,” said Bruce Gordon, Manulife Financial Senior Executive Vice President and General Manager of Canadian Operations. “Canadians continue to show they are
resilient, well-diversified and holding to their long-term objectives.”

Majority make few changes

Despite strong changes in markets through 2004, RRSP contributors say their investment pattern has remained steady. Some 61 per cent of investors surveyed said they altered none of their holdings – that’s a one-per-cent change from last year’s poll. Another 28 per cent changed a few investments, (compared to 27 per cent in 2003), while nine per cent said they changed all or many of their investments.

Among those surveyed, 48 per cent said they have individual RRSPs, while 22 per cent belong to group RRSPs.

RRSP Contributions

A larger group expects to contribute at least $5,000 to their RRSPs this year. About 23 per cent say they will contribute above that level, up from 17 per cent a year ago. The group contributing between $3,000 and $5,000 remained steady near 18 per cent, while at the lower end, far fewer expect to invest less than $3,000 (36 per cent, down from 47 per cent in 2003). About 13 per cent hadn’t decided yet how much will go into their RRSPs.

Exactly half of those surveyed said they have either already made contributions toward 2004 tax year or have plans to make a contribution.

Advice, goals

When it comes to advice, 45 per cent said they work with a financial advisor or planner. Of those polled who do not have a financial advisor or planner, the largest group (85 per cent) said their main reason for going it on their own is to personally manage their own financial affairs.

“Advisors play an important role helping Canadians make better financial decisions and, at the same time, they can help clients meet their financial needs and goals,” added Bob Tillmann, Vice President Marketing and Business Development, Manulife Financial.

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

Investment goals

The largest group of those surveyed – more than three-quarters of investors (77 per cent) – said their short or long-term goals include planning for a comfortable retirement. The second most-cited goal was planning for family in case of an illness or death (71 per cent), followed by making charitable donations (70 per cent); building a portfolio (70 per cent); reducing taxes (68 per cent); and paying down debt (60 per cent). Early retirement was cited by 58 per cent.

When it comes to their investments, some 34 per cent said they hold mutual funds, 28 per cent have term deposits and guaranteed investment certificates, 26 per cent hold stocks, 21 per cent invest in bonds and 13 per cent hold segregated funds.

Poll results released today are based on a Maritz Research survey of 1,006 Canadians (18 years and older) between December 20 and December 28, 2004. 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 serving millions of customers in 19 countries and territories worldwide. Operating as Manulife Financial in Canada and most of Asia, and primarily through John Hancock in the United States, the Company offers clients a diverse range of financial protection products and wealth management services through its extensive network of employees, agents and distribution partners. Funds under management by Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were Cdn$346 billion (US$274 billion) as at September 30, 2004.

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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