Almost half (46 per cent) of retired Canadians and only one-in-four (23 per cent) Canadians who are not yet retired have determined the amount of money they will need for a comfortable retirement, according to the 23rd Annual RBC RRSP Poll. Those who are not yet retired have significantly reduced their retirement savings goal by more than $200,000 to an average of $564,000 in 2012 from $778,000 in 2011. Prior to retirement, retirees estimated that they would only need an average of $347,000.
The gender gap has significantly narrowed between men's and women's retirement savings goals, from a difference of $280,000 in 2011 down to $86,000 in 2012. Men had an average retirement goal of $732,000 in 2011, which fell 42 per cent to $424,000 in 2012, while women had an average retirement goal of $452,000 in 2011, which increased 13 per cent to $510,000 in 2012.
"When looking at your percentage of pre-retirement income needed in retirement, some say 75 per cent, some say 85 per cent and some even say 110 per cent - we say everyone is different," said Jason Round, head, Financial Planning Support, RBC Financial Planning. "While it's important to have a retirement savings goal, there isn't one number that's right for everyone. Your goals and dreams for retirement deserve a plan that's personalized to you and takes into account many other relevant factors."
The RBC poll also found that Canadians have had a relatively consistent view of how they are doing with their retirement savings over the past four years. More than half of Canadians (53 per cent in 2012) say they are at or ahead of where they should be in terms of retirement savings.
Round notes that using a rule of thumb approach in planning can be useful in getting started when retirement is many years away but, as retirement nears, averages are less helpful. There comes a point when you need to dig a little deeper and create a plan for you based on you and the reality you will face in retirement. For example, consider the following factors that will shape your retirement:
Longevity: Canada's aging population is a reality. According to Statistics Canada, Canadians aged 65 in 2012 can expect to spend more than 20 years in retirement. The average male retirement expectancy is 18 or more years; for women it is 21 plus years. Retirement is not a single phase of your life but a series of stages and living longer does not necessarily mean living the same. How will your time horizon impact your retirement savings? (Time horizon is a term used to describe how a person thinks about the future, so if you have a short time horizon, you may only plan a year to five years ahead; if you have a medium time horizon you may plan five to 10 years ahead; if you have a long term time horizon, you may plan 10 to 20 years ahead)
Health: Your personal health can affect your enjoyment of your retirement years as well as your income. Almost one third (30 per cent) of retirees say the cost of healthcare is among the top concerns in retirement. Do you have health concerns? Have you planned to ensure healthy aging? Have you considered the costs associated with potential or real health concerns?
Inflation: One-third of retired Canadians (32 per cent) state that inflation and the effect it might have on their retirement finances is among top concerns. What measures have you taken to manage inflation? How will you maintain a sustainable level of income in retirement amidst unforeseeable circumstances?
Work: Among the Canadian working population, 42.4 per cent are between the ages of 45 and 64, a record high proportion, according to Census Canada 2011. Canadians are increasingly choosing to continue to work or return to work after retirement. The RBC Poll found 27 per cent of Canadians say they will never retire and 23 per cent plan to open a business in retirement. Have you considered whether you would choose to fully retire or return to work during retirement?
"Planning for retirement is so much more than just a magic number and this is where financial advice can ensure all aspects of retirement are explored to ensure you have the retirement you want," added Round
The 23rd Annual RBC RRSP poll was conducted by Ipsos Reid between and via a random sample of 1,225 Canadian adults in the general population (aged 18 and over). The results are based on samples where quota sampling and weighting are employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the actual population according to Census data. Quota samples with weighting from the Ipsos online panel provide results that are intended to approximate a probability sample. A weighted probability sample of 1,225 Canadian respondents, with 100 per cent response rate, would have an estimated margin of error of ±3 per cent, 19 times out of 20.