Inflation adds uncertainty for Canadians trying to look past the pandemic and refocus on their financial future

With inflation reaching the highest levels in the past 30 years, Canadians trying to refocus on their financial future now face a new uncertainty: the effects of rising inflation on their retirement savings. According to RBC’s annual Financial Independence in Retirement Poll, inflation has now moved into the top three concerns Canadians have about retirement for the first time in more than a decade.

Inflation is also limiting the ability of Canadians to increase any savings, as it continues to drive up the costs of fixed expenses – a key savings barrier referenced by 29% of poll respondents, with the largest number of these (40%) being aged 25 to 34. A majority (85%) of this younger age group also worries the most about trying to balance saving for today versus saving for their future.

There is a key difference across all age groups, however, despite the uncertainties posed by the pandemic and rising inflation. Today, almost half (48%) of Canadians have a financial plan and the majority (86%) of those say they are feeling positive about their financial future because of that plan.

One strong indicator that Canadians want to refocus on their financial future: RRSPs are making a big comeback. After seven years of trending downward – and last year’s historic low of 46% – RRSPs have rebounded and now over half (53%) of Canadians have RRSPs in place to save and invest for their retirement. Also, within those RRSPs, more Canadians are holding mutual funds (36% vs. 30% last year), stocks (20% vs. 14%) and ETFs (11% vs. 7%).

Another future-focused indication in poll findings: the percentage of Canadians who are building their investment portfolios has risen to 28% from 25% last year (and 10 points higher than a decade ago). Of particular note, younger investors aged 25 to 34 are also expressing the most interest in building these portfolios (32%). Since the onset of the pandemic, these younger investors are also focusing more attention on the value of their investments (22%) and almost half (48%) indicate they are willing to pay fees if this offers the opportunity to gain higher returns on those investments.

Fast Facts: RBC 2022 Financial Independence in Retirement Poll
Selected findings – National and regional

Top concerns about
retirement finances
Having enough savings47%43%44%47%47%52%44%
Maintaining my standard
of living
Impact of inflation29%33%31%28%29%26%32%
The cost of healthcare27%30%25%21%24%31%29%
Outliving my savings25%29%30%29%28%16%29%
Barriers to saving moreNAT’LBCABSK/MBONQCAC
Income too low36%38%41%45%37%30%34%
Fixed expenses too high29%35%38%37%29%22%24%
No money left over at the
end of the month to save
Unexpected expenses
(dentist, car repairs, etc.)
Unsteady work income13%13%17%9%14%11%10%
Have a financial plan?NAT’LBCABSK/MBONQCAC
Yes, I do48%47%49%49%51%44%46%
Yes, I have an RRSP53%50%51%55%56%55%44%
RRSP holds mutual funds36%42%40%40%38%27%35%
RRSP holds stocks20%30%11%19%22%15%11%
RRSP holds ETFs11%13%12%5%13%10%2%
Investing during pandemicNAT’LBCABSK/MBONQCAC
Building my investment
Focusing on the value of
my investments
Willing to pay fees for
higher returns

Fast Facts: RBC 2022 Financial Independence in Retirement Poll
Selected findings – National, gender and age group

Top concerns about
retirement finances
Having enough savings47%44%49%58%55%36%
Maintain standard of living36%33%38%44%40%31%
Impact of inflation29%30%28%32%26%34%
The cost of healthcare27%26%27%21%26%32%
Outliving my savings25%23%27%20%26%26%
Key barriers to saving moreNAT’LMF25-3435-5455+
Income too low36%32%40%41%35%32%
Fixed expenses too high
(rent, mortgage, food, etc.)
No money left over at end
of the month to save
Unexpected expenses
(dentist, car repairs, etc.)
Unsteady work income13%12%13%15%13%8%
Have a financial plan?NAT’LMF25-3435-5455+
Yes, I do48%49%48%47%44%53%
Yes, I have an RRSP53%57%51%53%61%54%
RRSP holds mutual funds36%35%37%33%38%38%
RRSP holds stocks20%25%12%21%19%16%
RRSP holds ETFs11%14%8%16%10%10%
Investing during pandemicNAT’LMF25-3435-5455+
Building my investment portfolio28%33%24%32%27%26%
Focusing on the value of my investments 22%26%19%22%19%27%
Willing to pay fees for higher returns46%49%43%48%46%43%