Wealth managers battle Canadian reluctance to save

Tue Jan 15, 2013 5:10pm EST
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* More Canadians say they can't afford to invest

* Younger people spending more, saving less

* Economic conditions, cynicism, influence saving rate

By Andrea Hopkins

TORONTO, Jan 15 (Reuters) - With more Canadians saying they can't afford to invest, the country's big banks are struggling to persuade people that socking away a little money now is the only path to a secure retirement.

While Canadians once outpaced their U.S. counterparts in terms of savings, the nation's luck in avoiding the worst of the recession and financial crisis meant few learned the painful lesson of too much debt, and fewer than ever feel able to save for retirement.

Sixty-four percent of Canadians said they can't afford to invest more, up from 59 percent in 2011 and 53 percent in 2010, according to a poll released on Tuesday by Scotiabank, Canada's third-largest lender. Confidence in levels of current savings wasn't high, either, with only 19 percent saying they had already invested enough, down sharply from 29 percent in 2010.

"In general when it comes to affordability, (the poll numbers) show the strain that we've all experienced over the last couple of years with the economic volatility and global concerns out there," said Mike Henry, head of retail payments, deposits and lending at Scotiabank.

The online poll of 1,003 adult Canadians was conducted from Nov. 28 to Dec. 13.   Continued...