Sun Life Financial study finds nearly half of Canadians will be working past age 65

Unretirement(TM) Index reveals that workers are conflicted about their retirement prospects

TORONTO, Jan. 28 2009 – According to the country’s first ever “Unretirement(TM) Index” released today by Sun Life Financial, many Canadians now expect to work longer for positive reasons, such as remaining mentally active and enjoyment of career, but they are also concerned about their financial readiness for retirement. These findings signal a departure from how Canadians have been retiring in the last few years and will have important implications for families, employers and society.

“Despite many Canadians expecting to work after age 65, those surveyed are approaching this reality with resolve,” said Dean Connor, President, Sun Life Financial Canada. “Interestingly, in pinpointing their primary reason for working past age 65, as many people singled out lifestyle reasons as those who indicated financial reasons.”

  • Nearly half of working Canadians believe they will be working past the traditional retirement age of 65. This is in sharp contrast to the average Canadian retirement age of 61 in recent years.
  • Nearly all of those who expect to work beyond age 65 cite one or more lifestyle reasons, including remaining mentally active, enjoyment of their jobs and the interaction with their co-workers.
  • In the survey, 75 per cent of Canadians rated their personal health and overall level of happiness highly. The survey found much less confidence around general economic conditions and Canadians’ personal finances.

“Despite the optimism, many Canadians are not as clear about what it will take for them to reach a comfortable level of retirement income,” said Connor. “Only 28 per cent of people are very confident they will have enough money to enjoy their desired lifestyle in retirement. Not surprisingly, Canadians who use a financial advisor to help them plan for retirement feel much more confident when it comes to their future.”

Working Canadians who used a financial advisor to help provide retirement advice reported that:

  • they are making better financial decisions (87 per cent),
  • they will have a better retirement (86 per cent),
  • they are more confident about their finances (83 per cent),
  • their spouse/partner has more confidence they’re doing all they can (79 per cent).

What are Canadians doing to prepare their finances for retirement?

  • Just 22 per cent expressed full satisfaction with their level of personal savings, or with how their income is growing.
  • Over the past 12 months, less than half of Canadians have calculated whether their retirement income will last long enough (44 per cent) or calculated how much income they’ll need to retire (41 per cent).
  • Furthermore, 62 per cent of Canadians polled lack a written financial retirement plan and only 47 per cent have spoken to a financial advisor to create or update a written retirement plan within the last 12 months.

Measuring Canadians’ overall retirement confidence

The Sun Life Unretirement(TM) Index measures the confidence that Canadian workers have towards issues that influence retirement. This first of multiple studies yielded an overall index score of 50 on a scale of 0 to 100. The lower the index number, the more negative or pessimistic the outlook is on issues that influence retirement.

The overall index is a blend of confidence scores in five sub-indices: Macroeconomics (score = 40), Government Benefits (score = 45), Personal Finance (score = 46), Employer Benefits (score = 47), and Health (score = 70).

For more information about Sun Life Financial’s Canadian Unretirement(TM) Index, visit


The study was conducted by Fleishman Hillard from December 8-23, 2008. Telephone interviews were conducted by Interviewing Service of America using a random-digit dial (RDD) sampling method. Quotas and weights were applied to gather a sample of 1,226 people working either full- or part-time, which was representative of the Canadian working population between the ages of 30 and 65. The sample was also representative in terms of gender and region census break. Analysis and construction of indexes involved the application of factor analysis. Final indexes are based on summated averages across the attributes which make up an index.

Age groups were divided by workers in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60+ and by three ranges of total assets, not including the net worth of the person’s place of residence (less than $100K, between $100K and $500K, and greater than $500K). This sample has a margin of error of 2.9 per cent at the 95 per cent confidence interval.

About Sun Life Financial

Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth accumulation products and services to individuals and corporate customers. Chartered in 1865, Sun Life Financial and its partners today have operations in key markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China and Bermuda. As of September 30, 2008, the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets under management of CDN$389 billion.

Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under ticker symbol SLF. For more information on Sun Life Financial, visit