A new survey by investment firm BlackRock finds half of Canadians see investing as a form of gambling and almost as many say investing is not for people like them.

Confidence to make their own investment decisions was particularly low among women respondents, with only 26 per cent of women saying they were knowledgeable about investing, compared to 43 per cent of men.  

Asked whether they agree with the statement "I am comfortable making my own investing decisions," only 37 per cent of women said Yes, compared to 51 per cent of men.

 The results were based on BlackRock's Global Investor Pulse online survey that interviewed more than 31,100 respondents around the world, including 2,000 in Canada between July and August 2015.

As the questionnaires, administered by Cicero Group research firm, were filled out online, the survey does not have a margin of error. BlackRock says the 2,000 survey were a "nationally representative sample" but also included 586 people who had net worth of over $150,000.

Don't know how much to save

Among those surveyed, there was an awareness that they ought to save for retirement, but only 42 per cent said they knew how much they had to save each year to retire comfortably.

Respondents were also uncomfortable with investments other than cash, with 46 per cent saying they preferred cash because they could always take it out and 24 per cent saying they didn't want to risk the money.   

Karrie Van Belle, managing director at BlackRock, expressed concern about women saying they lacked confidence to invest and everyone keeping too much cash.

"We are seeing more and more women categorize themselves as savers versus investors and they're sitting on the sidelines in cash," Van Belle said.

"Over time, cash is likely not going to get you where you need to get to for your retirement."

The survey was performed last summer, when markets had not yet begun the wild ride that kicked off after China devalued its currency in August and oil sank below $30.

When asked about potential threats to their financial future, 46 per cent mentioned the state of the Canadian economy.

But the biggest perceived threat, cited by 67 per cent of respondents, was the high cost of living. 

With files from the Canadian Press