Most boomers aren't saving enough for retirement, actuaries say

Only a third of Canadians hoping to retire in 2030 are saving enough to guarantee a comfortable retirement, according to a new study.

Only a third of Canadians hoping to retire in 2030 are saving enough to guaranteea comfortable retirement, according to a new study that looked at howbaby boomers will likely fare in the decades to come.

"The message for most Canadians in their early to mid-40s is they will need to save more if they expect to enjoy an independent retirement," saidNormand Gendron, president of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries, which sponsored the study.

The findings were notencouraging for many of those born in the early to mid-1960s. Peoplein that age group who are counting ononly one kind of savings to fund their retirement will likely have to work past age 65 or increase their savings to avoid financial hardship.

The study —which was carried by a research team atthe University of Waterloo—found that it tended to takesome combination ofpersonal savings, RRSPs, company pensions and home ownership to fill the gapleft bythe "modest income base" provided by such government retirement plans as the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security.

Growing equity in a home is an important retirement savings tool, the authors said.So many boomers will likely need tocount on their homes to help fund their retirements, the study's authors recommend thatmortgage interest on a principal residence be made tax deductible, as it is in the United States.

"We found that home equity can make a significant contribution to narrowing the gap, provided your home is paid for when you retire," said Steve Bonnar, one of threeactuaries who directed the study. "Yet while home equity is important, on its own, it is not enough to close the gap."

The study's findings — that most boomers are off coursefor a well-fundedretirement— are at odds with the perceptions of the boomers themselves.

A survey the actuarial body carried out in April showed that 55 per cent of Canadians aged 40 and over feel confident they'll have enough accumulated to retire comfortably.

The actuaries' figures suggest that many Canadians will get a nasty surprise once they leave the workforce.

"Many people don't have a good grasp of how much money it takes to pay for a comfortable retirement," Bonnar told CBC News Online.

He cited an actuarial rule of thumbthat it takes $20 of capital to provide $1 of annual pension income. Assuming it takes $23,000 a year to pay for necessary living expenses, that means it would take almost $500,000 to provide that, he said. That can come from a mix ofpersonal savings, home equity, or a company pension plan. Only part of it will come fromgovernment retirement programs.

"There's a message for those in their 20s and 30s," Bonnar said. "That is tothink broadly aboutsaving for retirement. You can't start saving too early."