Canadian investors remain wary and continue to take a conservative approach to investment and savings vehicles as evidenced by a one-point dip (to +21) in the latest Manulife Financial Investor Sentiment Index.
Nowhere is investor scepticism more apparent than in Quebec where the index sits at +8 – only three points higher than pre-economic crisis levels in 2008 (+5).
Twice annually, the Investor Sentiment Index survey measures Canadian investors' views on a range of asset classes and savings and investment vehicles – as well as their confidence in these areas. It also asks Canadians a broad range of additional questions about topics including financial priorities and retirement.
"It is quite surprising to see that Quebecers recorded the lowest numbers across the entire investment and savings product spectrum. We really haven't seen any reason to suggest this kind of pessimism," said Guy Couture, regional vice-president, retail markets. "Quebecers don't believe it's a good time to put money into investment or savings products, nor do they find it a good time to be keeping cash, so maybe there are some well-padded mattresses in Quebec."
In fact, Quebec residents ranked whether it was a good time to invest in every investment and savings product – including stocks, real estate, your own home, cash, balanced mutual funds, fixed income products, TFSAs, RRSPs and Mutual Funds – substantially lower than Canadians in all other provinces.
Only 43 per cent of Quebec investors said it was a good or very good time to invest in your own home – the most popular investment choice across Canada – compared to 66 per cent in Alberta and 65 per cent in Atlantic Canada, the provinces where it ranked highest. Additionally, while Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSA) ranked highest as a savings vehicle across Canada – 71 per cent of Manitoba and Saskatchewan residents ranked it most popular – only 45 per cent of Quebec residents said it was a good or very good time to save using a TFSA.
"Quebecers may be overly cautious after the financial crisis, but it may be paying off in some regards," says Couture. "In comparison to other provinces, Quebec leads the way with more than half of residents reporting that they are on track with their financial goals (53 per cent). Another six per cent report that they are currently ahead of their financial goals, which is second only to Alberta at eight per cent. This is good news."
Alberta residents provided the highest Investor Sentiment Index scores with sentiment there reaching +30.
However, while Alberta residents were also the most likely to say they are ahead of plan on their financial goals (eight per cent), one in four Albertans (25 per cent) also said that they are in a worse financial position than two years ago. Albertans were also most likely to say that they will be in a worse financial position two years from now (10 per cent).
"Alberta's economic growth is predicted to lead the Canadian economy over the next couple of years. It may be the case that while there is a boom in the economy there and lots of jobs are being created, Albertans have fallen into a bit of a false sense of security and are spending what they make and perhaps beyond," says Couture. "It will take good savings discipline, the right financial plan and smart investments to ensure they continue to meet their financial goals."