Pension saving
iStockphoto/Galeanu Mihai

The proportion of Canadians with a negative outlook on retirement is growing thanks to rising inflation, poor economic growth and rising interest rates, according to a report from Fidelity Investments Canada ULC. But having a financial plan and an advisor could change people’s outlook.

The 2024 Fidelity Retirement Report found that while most pre-retirees and retirees continue to have a positive outlook on their retirement, that share has steadily decreased over the past few years.

Sixty-nine percent of Canadians expressed having a positive outlook on retirement in this year’s edition of Fidelity’s annual survey, down from 73% in 2023, 75% in 2022 and 77% in 2021.

However, Canadians with a written financial plan and a financial advisor were more likely to be optimistic about retirement, the survey found.

“Despite uncertain economic times, working with a financial advisor, developing a written financial plan, sticking to that plan, and especially staying invested can help Canadians live the retirement they envision,” said Peter Bowen, vice-president of tax and retirement research with Fidelity, in a release.

Several macroeconomic factors are affecting Canadians who are gearing up for or already in retirement, the survey found.

Roughly 82% of survey respondents said increases to the cost of living are negatively affecting them financially in retirement, while 58% said poor economic growth is to blame.

Stock market volatility (45%) and rising interest rates (44%) were also cited as factors affecting Canadians’ retirement plans.

Having a financial plan, advisor affected outlook

The decline in the outlook of Canadians this year was driven by those without a written financial plan, the survey found.

In 2024, 92% of retirees and 81% of pre-retirees with a written financial plan said they have a positive outlook on retirement. That’s largely similar to sentiments expressed over the past two years (91% of retirees and 85% of pre-retirees in 2023; 93% of retirees and 86% of pre-retirees in 2022).

Retirees and pre-retirees without a financial plan were less likely to express a positive outlook on retirement, and those figures also remained mostly steady.

In 2024, 73% of retirees without a financial plan and 54% of pre-retirees without a financial plan were optimistic about their retirement. Those figures were 79% and 55% in 2023, and 77% and 62% in 2022, respectively.

Despite this correlation, only 27% of Canadians said they have a written financial plan, and of those that have one, 85% worked with a financial advisor to create it, the 2024 survey found.

Quebecers are most likely (34%) to have a written financial plan that specifically deals with their retirement compared to the rest of Canada (26%). Meanwhile, Canadians living in the Prairies (50%) and B.C. (49%) are more likely to work in some capacity in their retirement compared to Canadians residing elsewhere (41%).

The 2024 Fidelity Retirement Report surveyed 2,000 Canadians aged 45 and older online between Jan. 9 and Jan. 23, 2024, with a disproportionate sample of pre-retirees and retirees. The results were then weighted to reflect the national proportionate distribution of the over-45 population.

Total sample results are accurate to plus or minus 2.31 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.