Canadians’ focus on debt reaches highest point in five years: Manulife Investor Sentiment Index

For Immediate Release
January 11, 2011
Canadians’ focus on debt reaches highest point in five years: Manulife Investor Sentiment Index
WATERLOO- More Canadians say their top priority is to tackle their debts as they head into the New Year, according to the
latest national poll for Manulife Financial, Canada’s leading insurance and wealth management company.
Those who say their top financial priority is to pay down credit cards, lines of credits and mortgages hit a new five-year high in
Manulife’s poll, conducted in mid-December by Research House, an Environics Company.
More than a quarter of Canadians (29 per cent) said their top priority is to pare back their consumer credit, up from a low of 20
per cent heading into 2008. The next most-important priority – paying down the mortgage – was chosen by 14 per cent,
identical to a year ago, but up from 11 per cent the prior year.
The third-ranked priority cited in the poll, to save for retirement, was named by 13 per cent of the 1,000 respondents, up from
11 per cent a year ago.
“Paying down debt is central to a successful financial plan and it’s encouraging that many Canadians are growing more
focused on taming their credit, mortgages and other bills: said Paul Rooney. President and CEO, Manulife Canada. “Given
the recent economic challenges so often in the news, we shouldn’t be too surprised that Canadians are working harder to get
their finances in shape.”
When asked about their overall financial position, almost half (49 per cent) said they are better off than five years ago.
Another 28 per cent say they’re in the same financial spot as in 2005, while less than a quarter (23 per cent) say they are
worse off.
Manulife provides financial solutions to more than one in five Canadians with a wide range of financial services and products,
he said, and one of our key goals is to help them make better financial decisions.
“We always encourage people to work closely with an advisor and stick to a financial pian,” Mr. Rooney added. “People with
integrated financial plans, working with strong, reliable and trustworthy companies, are generally better prepared for the future,
are more confident about reaching their goals and can deal with the ups and downs in the economy.”
Overall index
The 48th quarterly Manulife Investor Sentiment Index fell back six points in mid-December mainly driven by less interest in
investment real estate, equities and balanced funds.
The index closed out 2010 at +20, two points ahead of its level a year ago, following some wide swings earlier in 2010-
particularly an eight-point drop in June on the heels of a record leap of 15 points in March, the biggest gain since 1999.
The quarterly index monitors how Canadians say they feel about investing in 11 different categories and vehicles. The index
reflects the percentage of those who say they believe it is a good or very good time to invest minus those who feel the
Since its launch in 1999, the Manulife Investor Sentiment Index has remained in positive territory overall. It peaked at +35 in
early 2000, but fell to +11 in December 2001. During the past several years, the index had generally remained near six-year
highs, above +20. But the index suffered a sharp drop in late 2008, to reach an all-time low of +5.
In the most recent survey, all 11 categories covered in the poll lost some ground. The largest declines in the latest survey were
for Registered Education Savings Plans, segregated funds, investment property, stocks and balanced funds.
Principal residences still remain the most popular investment category – with a wide lead over every other area.
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