About 50% of Albertans are struggling to save for retirement, survey says

Close to half of Albertans are falling behind in saving for their retirement, says the latest ATB Investor Beat survey.

'Albertans are tightening their belts right now,' says Chris Turchansky, president of ATB Investor Services

The economic downturn has affected almost half of Albertans as they prepare for retirement, says the most recent ATB Investor Beat survey. Cost of living and unexpected expenses are to blame, respondents said. (Getty images)

Close to half of Albertans are falling behind in saving for their retirement, says the latest ATB Investor Beat survey.

The quarterly review says 48 per cent of Albertans are struggling to build nest eggs for the future. That's up eight per cent from the last survey done in July.

Those surveyed said cost-of-living and unexpected expenses are the main reasons for not keeping up with savings.

Albertans are clearly feeling the pinch right now, said Chris Turchansky, president of ATB Investor Services.

Financial institutions need to help Albertans deal with the new financial reality many are facing and help them stay focused on their investment and savings goals, he said.

The economic downturn caused by plunging oil prices has had a dramatic impact on Albertans, the review says.

Forty-five per cent polled said the downturn has affected them personally. Among them, 41 per cent have seen their salaries frozen or reduced. Another 19 per cent have lost their jobs.

Predictably, the survey says, Albertans are reducing spending, have stopped some regular savings contributions and withdrawn some long-term savings and investments.

"People have less disposable cash in difficult economic times here in Alberta, to put away for their long-term investing," Turchansky told CBC Monday.

"What we encourage people to do is to stay focused on the long term, and don't make short-term decisions based on their emotions. Investments are an emotional thing."

He added many Albertans are "taking the right actions" by putting off vacations and large purchases, such as TVs.

Slumping markets in 2015 didn't help either, Turchansky said.

"The overall markets ... had for the first time in a fairly long time a relatively difficult year."

Last year the TSX energy composite along "was down over 22 per cent."

Meanwhile, only 10 per cent of respondents felt it's not a good time to invest or save; 31 per cent believed it's a good time to invest.

Thirty-four per cent of those polled didn't know how much income they will need annually in retirement.

For those on the brink of retirement, Turchansky said they can help themselves by working longer and by drawing on investments that haven't been affected by the slumping economy.

"It's more important than ever to have a clear vision of what you want your future to look like, even though the present is taking up more of your resources," Turchansky said.

"Albertans are tightening their belts right now, and that might affect the way they think about saving and investing. Talking to a financial advisor is the best way to prioritize where your money is going, for today and tomorrow."

The current ATB Investor Beat survey was conducted in October 2015, included 1,024 respondents and is considered accurate to within +/- 3.5 percentage points.


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