Miniature of business men observing maze risk concept

The pandemic has resulted in many Canadians feeling less sure about investing as well as about their financial futures.

In a Scotiabank retail investor survey, conducted in January and released Monday, most respondents (70%) said it was hard to know what to do regarding investments in the current environment.

One-third of investors polled (33%) said they were holding off on investing or were moving to lower-risk options due to pandemic-related uncertainty.

Even more were holding off on RRSP contributions: more than half of respondents (56%) said they weren’t making contributions this year, and less than one-third (32%) planned to make contributions before the 2020 tax year deadline, the survey found.

Worsening economic conditions in recent weeks may have influenced Canadians’ decisions about RRSP contributions they had planned to make.

Consider, for example, that a BMO survey said a much larger proportion of Canadians (64%) had already made RRSP contributions or planned to do so — a percentage consistent with the previous year, BMO said. That poll was conducted several weeks earlier, in mid-November.

The Scotiabank poll found that 47% of respondents planned to contribute to TFSAs, perhaps highlighting a desire to keep cash at hand.

Despite the apparent uncertainty related to investing, many Canadians may be open to exploring their investment options.

More than two-thirds of respondents to the Scotiabank poll (67%) said they saw opportunity in the current market environment. However, optimism about finances was somewhat muted, with 55% of respondents saying they felt optimistic about their financial futures.

Retirement was a key concern, with nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents worried they hadn’t saved enough, the survey found. Further, about one-third (32%) said they wouldn’t be able to retire because of the pandemic.

Debt was part of the problem, with more than one-quarter (28%) of respondents saying they wouldn’t be able to pay off their debts before retirement.

About the survey: The 2021 Scotiabank Retail Investor Sentiment Survey was conducted on behalf of Scotiabank by Maru Blue from Jan. 5 to Jan. 6, 2021. The online survey captured the opinions of 1,523 Canadians, and results were weighted by education, age, gender and region (and in Quebec, language) to match the population, according to the most recent data.