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Special Reports


Fewer Canadians planning and saving for retirement, according to RBC poll

20th Annual RRSP survey finds only one-in-three Canadians are planning to contribute to their RRSP

TORONTO, December 16, 2009 — According to the 20th Annual RBC RRSP Poll, one-in-three Canadians (32 per cent) have not started saving for retirement yet, compared to one-in-four (24 per cent) in 2008. The study also found only 36 per cent say they are planning or have planned for retirement, down from 42 per cent in 2008. The decline is most noticeable among those aged 55 and over, with fewer (53 per cent) doing any retirement planning compared to 2008 (67 per cent).

Just one-in-three Canadians (35 per cent) have contributed to or plan to contribute to an RRSP for the 2009 tax year. This is the lowest percentage of contributors since 1996 (34 per cent). Among those with an RRSP who are not contributing this year or who are reducing their contribution, half (54 per cent) say it is because of current economic conditions.

"With the recent economic uncertainty, we understand it may have been difficult for many Canadians to focus on planning for retirement," said Lee Anne Davies, head, Retirement Strategies, RBC. "It's not easy juggling many financial priorities especially during challenging economic times. That's why we recommend working with an advisor to review both your personal and financial goals, as well as consider the unexpected that may impact your lifestyle, and develop a realistic plan of action."

Respondents are divided over whether Canadians were better prepared for retirement 20 years ago compared to today, with 49 per cent saying that Canadians were better prepared 20 years ago versus 46 per cent who think we are better prepared today.

"Life may have been simpler 20 years ago, and with that, so was planning for retirement," adds Davies. "Today, retirement is more complex with many factors to consider, such as boomers faced with financially supporting adult children, family structure changes and elderly parents living longer. All of these can place big demands on your time, your focus and your money. Having a plan would not only make the most of your situation, but would also provide you with peace of mind knowing that your investments are on track to achieve your retirement dream."


  • Younger Canadians, those aged 18-34, (45 per cent) and females (37 per cent) are less likely to have started saving for retirement.

  • Many Canadians are waiting until the last minute to contribute to their RRSPs. One-in-three (35 per cent) who plan to make a one-time RRSP contribution expect to do so just before the March 1st, 2010 deadline.

  • Only one-in-four Canadians (24 per cent) plan to maximize their RRSP contribution for the 2009 tax year. Canadians aged 18-34 (35 per cent) are most likely to maximize their RRSP contribution.

  • Among Canadians who have an RRSP, 76 per cent plan to contribute at least as much as what they contributed in 2008.

  • Only one-in-three RRSP investors (31 per cent) make regular contributions through a plan.

  • Although mutual funds remain the top planned RRSP investment choice (42 per cent) for the 2009 tax year, they have been declining since 2006 (55 per cent). Younger Canadians (aged 18-34) are more likely to favour savings accounts (29 per cent) and cash (23 per cent).

These are some of the findings the RBC 20th Annual RBC Poll conducted by Ipsos Reid between October 21 and November 2, 2009. For this survey, a national sample of 1,457 adults from Ipsos' Canadian online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100 per cent response rate would have an estimated margin of error of ±2.56 percentage points 19 times out of 20 of what the results would have been had the entire population of adults in Canada been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

Your Future by Design® is RBC's distinctive approach to help clients identify, plan, and realize their goals for retirement. With the guidance of RBC financial planners and investment and retirement planners, Your Future by Design helps clients create a blueprint for a successful lifestyle and financial plan for retirement based on what is truly important to them in key areas in life, including family, health, home, lifestyle, work/business, mind and spirit, and legacy. To find out more about how RBC can help build a blueprint for the future, visit www.rbc.com/yourfuture or call 1-866-335-4055.

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Media contacts:
Suzanne Willers, RBC, 416-974-2727
Matt Gierasimczuk, Media Relations, 416-974-2124


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12/16/2009 09:16:35