Financial stress and the value of financial advice for your employees

Our latest survey of Canadian workers reveals that more than 4 in 10 are unhappy with their financial situation. However, workers with a financial advisor are almost twice as likely to say they have a very good/excellent financial situation than workers without. Financial advisors can help reduce financial stress by helping your employees feel supported, informed, and confident about more than just retirement.

Workers are feeling worse about their personal finances  

After some improvements during the pandemic, workers are feeling worse about their finances. According to data from our third annual stress, finances, and well-being survey, rising interest rates, soaring inflation, and current economic conditions are causing financial stress.

The survey found that over the next three to six months, savings are Canadian workers’ top priority. But 37% admit that saving money right now is a challenge.

Personal finances, specifically debt and lack of short- and long-term savings, are a significant concern for Canadian workers, with more than half saying they worry a great deal about an aspect of their personal finances

And personal finances are taking up time at work: 8 in 10 report worrying about their finances at work at least sometimes. This makes financial stress not only a personal issue but a business issue that could have real costs for employers.

Retirement unreadiness

Under a cloud of economic uncertainty and market volatility, more Canadians feel like their retirement planning and savings are falling behind. And it’s not just boomers; there’s a feeling of retirement unreadiness across all generations. How do you plan for your financial future when you can’t afford your financial present?

With increasing life expectancy, Canadians will spend longer in retirement than ever before. This means their savings will need to last longer too.

Our survey found that 1 in 3 are worried a great deal about not having enough retirement savings. Close to half feel their retirement savings are behind schedule, and 1 in 3 expect to retire later than planned. Both represent a significant increase from 2021. 

Yet those who have a formal comprehensive plan for retirement and those who have worked with a financial advisor in the past year are more likely to be on track or ahead in terms of saving for retirement. Having these in place is connected to better mental health and stronger financial situations

Conversely, compared against 2021, fewer Canadian workers currently have a formal, comprehensive retirement plan or a financial advisor.

A chart that shows that despite Canadian workers’ concern about the economy, fewer people worked with an advisor within the past year than in 2021. 2022: 59% didn’t work with a financial advisor within the past year. 2021: 24% didn’t work with a financial advisor within the past year.

Source: Manulife stress, finances, and well-being survey, 2022.

The power of financial preparedness 

Offering resources—such as a consultation with a financial advisor, information on sources of retirement income, and professional management of retirement investments and savings—can significantly help your employees feel more prepared for retirement and less stressed.

And employees may welcome the support: 62% of Canadian workers are interested in getting help from their employer, and 61% of workers are interested in getting access to a certified financial advisor through their workplace. 

Our survey data shows that those who are financially stressed are even more likely to want help from their employer than those who aren’t. 

At least 4 in 5 employees report that learning about sources of retirement income, projections of income, and connecting with an advisor would encourage them to do more to prepare for retirement.

A chart that shows what Canadian workers think would help them feel more prepared for retirement. 88% say projections of estimated income and expenses in retirement, including healthcare. 88% say learning more about sources of retirement income. 85% say learning more about CPP/QPP strategies. 85% say a consultation with a financial advisor. 84% say professional management of retirement investments and savings.

Source: Manulife stress, finances, and well-being survey, 2022.

For employers, offering financial wellness programs, including financial advice, can also help with talent recruitment and retention at your organization. Our survey found that 7 in 10 are unlikely to work for a company that doesn’t offer a retirement plan, up from 6 in 10 in 2021.

Why financial advice matters

Canadian workers need—and want—help navigating economic events. And they want that help from a trusted source.

A trusted financial advisor understands employees’ concerns and helps them understand the advice they’re giving—explaining what’s unfamiliar, highlighting what’s important, and connecting it all to what matters—using language that’s straightforward and easy to understand. 

Certified financial advisors are trained to know how to respond to economic events and trends. Our survey found that the economy has had less of a major effect on the mental health of those with a financial advisor than those without. 

Overall, those who have retirement plans and financial advisors are in a better financial situation, have an easier time saving, and are more likely to be on track to retire.

  Good financial situation Ease of saving money On track for retirement savings
Advisor 68% 36% 47%
No advisor 54% 28% 34%

Source: Manulife stress, finances, and well-being survey, 2022.

  Good financial situation Ease of saving money On track for retirement savings
Has a plan 74% 41% 55%
Does not have a plan 52% 26% 3%

Source: Manulife stress, finances, and well-being survey, 2022.

Financial advice at work

Each employee is different, their challenges are different, and their goals are different. But employees who have more support may have better financial situations, be less financially stressed, and be less distracted at work.

Financial advisors are uniquely positioned to provide the one-on-one support that helps drive positive saving and investing behaviours. And through this support, they can help your employees confidently navigate events outside their control and keep their financial lives and retirement planning on track.

You can help your employees feel better about their personal finances by connecting them to trusted advice. The benefits to your employees of working with a financial advisor appear to be clear: less financial stress, higher productivity at work, and greater retirement savings. Reach out to your group retirement partners to learn more about the kinds of services they offer. 

All data is from the 2022 Manulife Retirement stress, finances, and well-being survey. This year’s survey was conducted with 1,551 Canadians using Angus Reid’s research panel. The survey was conducted in English and French from November 28, 2022, to December 8, 2022, with an average survey length of approximately 17 minutes per respondent. Survey respondents were age 18 and up, were employed, and contribute to an employer-sponsored retirement plan. The maximum margin of sampling error at the 95% confidence level is ± 2.3%. The 2022 stress, finances, and well-being survey was commissioned by Manulife and John Hancock Retirement and conducted by Edelman DXI. Manulife is not affiliated with Edelman DXI, and neither is responsible for the liabilities of the other. The commentary in this publication is for general information only and should not be considered legal, financial, or tax advice to any party. Individuals should seek the advice of professionals to ensure that any action taken with respect to this information is appropriate to their specific situation.

Fraser Wiswell

Fraser Wiswell, 

Head of Global Retirement Participant Engagement and Retention


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