Fewer Canadians intend to contribute to their registered retirement savings plans (RRSP) this year, according to the Toronto-based Bank of Nova Scotia’s Annual Investment Poll.

The survey, which was released on Monday, found that 31% of Canadians intend to contribute to their RRSP for the 2013 tax year, down from the 39% of Canadians who said the same thing in 2012 and 2011.

The top reason for not contributing this year, according to Scotiabank, is a lack of funds. Seventy-four percent of Canadians with an RRSP surveyed said they simply do not have enough money to put aside in the accounts.

For Mike Henry, senior vice president, retail payments, deposits and lending, Scotiabank, advisors need to go back to the beginning of the financial planning process to help clients struggling to make RRSP contributions.

“The key to success, from our point of view, it really is starting off with the basics,” says Henry. Advisors need to help clients prioritize what’s important to them financially and put together a plan that balances expenses but also helps them to reach their financial goals.

Furthermore, 40% of those Canadians with an RRSP said they have withdrawn funds within the past year, up from 36% in 2012. The three top reasons for taking money out of an RRSP are to take advantage of the Home Buyers’ Plan (16%), to cover day-to-day expense (8%) and to pay down debt (8%).

Henry says its heartening to see that many people are using their savings to purchase homes, however, the need to cover expenses and pay down debt further emphasizes the importance of creating financial plans with clients.

“That really heightens the need to have planning conversations with [clients],” he says. “[And to] craft plans that ultimately help them balance their goals and help them to get ahead.”

Study results were gathered from 1,029 online surveys completed between November 12, 2013 and November 27, 2013 by Canadian members of the Harris/Decima’s online panel.