Canadian Investor Confidence Improves

Manulife Financial Investor Sentiment Index reveals financial concerns and priorities for 2012

  • Investor confidence improved by five points in Q4 2011.
  • Debt reduction is the top finance-related New Year’s resolution for 2012.
  • Six out of 10 Canadians are optimistic about their financial future.

WATERLOO, ON, Jan. 11, 2012 – As we begin a new year, results from Manulife Financial’s latest quarterly Investor Sentiment Index (ISI) showed an increase of five points – indicating that Canadians’ confidence in their investment options began to improve in late 2011.

This increased optimism was driven by enhanced confidence in a number of vehicles including: fixed income products (+10), balanced funds (+7) and investment property (+6). Fixed income investments such as bonds, GIC’s and income funds saw the sharpest increase in investor confidence (up 10 points over the last quarter). Out of the six different investment categories reviewed, only confidence in cash investments decreased this quarter (-3).

Canadians are clearly feeling it is a good time to invest in Tax Free Savings Accounts, RRSP’s and mutual funds with confidence increasing by 11, eight, and five points respectively.

“As 2011 came to a close, Canadians were clearly finding reasons to be more optimistic about their investment options,” noted Paul Rooney, President and CEO of Manulife Canada. “A five point increase in investor confidence will not turn things around overnight, but it is a positive sign we ended the year moving in the right direction.”

2012 Financial Concerns and Priorities Focus on Household Debt

While Canadians are feeling more optimistic about their investment options, one in five noted they are most concerned about managing their debt. Another 16% are worried about saving for retirement. Canadians are also troubled by the possibility that their investments will decrease (13%) while others fret that they may not have enough money if they become disabled (12%). Another 11% of Canadians listed job security as their top financial concern for 2012.

To address these concerns, over a quarter of Canadians have made reducing household debt (mortgages, credit cards and other non-mortgage debts) their top finance-related New Year’s resolution. A total of 14% made trimming household budgets their goal for 2012 while another 12% resolved to save more for retirement. Only 6% planned to do something big like buy/sell a home.

Canadians Optimistic About their Financial Futures

Looking longer down the road, the ISI revealed that six out of 10 Canadians believe they will be in a better financial position five years from now. The index noted that this optimism was most felt by 92% of Canadians between 18 and 29 years old and trended downward with age.

Key Findings for Q4

  • The Manulife Investor Sentiment Index rose five points to +26 from September, 2011 and six points from December of 2010.
  • This increase was driven by improved confidence in a number of vehicles including fixed income products, balanced funds, and real estate.
  • While confidence in stocks saw some improvement, they still remain in a negative position (-5, up from -9 in Q3 2011).
  • Confidence in fixed income saw the sharpest increase for investment vehicles (+23, up from +13 in Q3 2011).
  • Canadians showed less confidence in cash investments (+19, down from +22 in Q3 2011).
  • Investors’ confidence in Tax Free Savings Accounts increased (+66, up from +55 in Q3 2011) and confidence in RRSP’s increased (+56, up from +48 in Q3 2011).

For more information on the Manulife Financial Investor Sentiment Index, including further details on the issues of most concern to Canadian investors, visit

About the Manulife Financial Investor Sentiment Index

For 12 years Manulife Financial’s Investor Sentiment Index has been measuring Canadian’s opinions about whether it’s a good time or bad time to invest in different asset classes and investment vehicles. This index is based on a phone survey of 1,000 Canadians aged 18 and older between December 6 and December 11, 2011. Conducted by Research House, an Environics Company, the survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.1, 19 times out of 20.

About Manulife Financial

Manulife Financial is a leading Canada-based financial services group operating in 21 countries and territories worldwide. In 2012, we celebrate 125 years of providing clients strong, reliable, trustworthy and forward-thinking solutions for their most significant financial decisions. Our international network of employees, agents and distribution partners offers financial protection and wealth management products and services to millions of clients. We provide asset management services to institutional customers worldwide as well as reinsurance solutions, specializing in property and casualty retrocession. Funds under management by Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were C$492 billion (US$473 billion) as at September 30, 2011. The Company operates as Manulife Financial in Canada and Asia and primarily as John Hancock in the United States.

Manulife Financial Corporation trades as ‘MFC’ on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under ‘945’ on the SEHK. Manulife Financial can be found on the Internet at