Canadians’ stress has worsened even as financial positions have improved: Manulife Investment Management study | Manulife Investment Management

Manulife Canada Retirement Study: Stress, Finances, Well-Being, commissioned by Manulife Investment Management

News Release

C$ unless otherwise stated
For Immediate Release
January 25, 2022

Toronto - Manulife Investment Management today announced the results of its second Canada Retirement Study: Stress, Finances, Well-Being of Canadians. The survey provides a timely snapshot of how plan members are feeling about their well-being, overall financial security and retirement preparedness. It reveals most Canadians want to be more confident in their financial decisions, and are interested in receiving help from their employers. 

“Canadians are feeling the impacts of the pandemic, which include financial stress for so many. The study’s findings underscore the importance for individuals to seek, and workplaces to provide, continued financial guidance,” said Brett Marchand, Head of Retirement, Manulife Investment Management, Canada. “Advisors and workplaces have an opportunity to help reduce Canadians’ financial stress by offering support that will help increase their knowledge of investment opportunities and confidence when making financial decisions.”

The study found six core stresses affecting Canadian workers and future financial plans:

  • Financial positions have improved, but stress has worsened: Seven in ten people surveyed rate their financial position as good or better than it was pre-pandemic, but more than twice as many workers surveyed report major stress during the pandemic compared to before, with 30 per cent feeling extreme stress in the past six months.
  • Mental health continues to be impacted throughout the pandemic: COVID-19 has had a negative impact on workers mental health, with 36 per cent reporting personal finance as their main source of stress as well as workload (34 per cent), relationships (31 per cent) and work-life balance (30 per cent). And, plan members are split on what comes next, 40 per cent feel optimistic that things will get better in the year ahead, whereas another 40 expect things to stay the same for a while.
  • Financial stress is prevalent both at home and at work: Workers spend an average of 5.8 hours per week on personal finances at work, and 60 per cent say they worry about personal finances at work at least once a week. Of those who worry about personal finances, almost seven in ten believe they would be at least somewhat more productive if they did not spend time worrying at work. In addition, three-quarters state a financial wellness program would have/has at least some impact on reducing financial stress, recommending someone to their company, or likelihood to stay at current job.
  • Retirement plan participants are taking better care of their finances, with three common goals: The study found that more people are taking better care of their finances by checking credit reports and scores. Three in five report they will retire about when they originally planned to or earlier. And, those with a financial wellness plan offered by their employer (11% vs 4%) are more likely to say that they plan on retiring earlier than planned.
  • Workers are concerned about basic needs (health care and daily expenses) in retirement, but are unsure whether they’re ready: Just under half of the respondents have a comprehensive financial plan for retirement, and seven in ten are at least moderately interested in receiving recommendations on Canada Pension Plan strategies from their employers.
  • Gender plays an important role on sentiment when it comes to financial positioning: Males and workers with financial wellness plans are more likely to cite their current financial situation as very good/excellent. Compared to females (36 per cent vs 46 per cent males) who are less comfortable with the amount of debt they are carrying and are more concerned about basic expenses like food, transportation and taxes in retirement (29 per cent vs 22 per cent).

How can employers help?

The takeaway of this year’s study is the interplay of trends that raised workers awareness about the precarious nature of their finances. Almost half of workers would like to be more confident about making financial decisions, creating an opportunity for employers to review programs that better support employee and organizational wellbeing. Employers can incentivize workers by providing flexibility and expanding financial wellbeing supports and offerings.

Expansion of financial supports and wellness offerings:

  • The value in employer-sponsored retirement plans is broadly acknowledged with 84 per cent seeing it as a critical company benefit. In fact, six in ten say they would not be likely to work for a company that doesn’t offer a retirement plan.
  • Three-quarters state a financial wellness program would have/has at least some impact on reducing financial stress, has a positive impact on their productivity and recommending someone to their company, or keeping them at their current workplace.
  • Almost three in five would be interested in receiving help from their employer when it comes to opening an emergency savings account, education savings tools, or managing their budget. Also, 45% feel that a consultation with a financial advisor could have a major impact on preparing financially for retirement.

 “With just under half of respondents saying they have a comprehensive financial plan for retirement and half expressing a desire to be more confident about making financial decisions, the potential impact of offering an expanded financial wellness program in the workplace is clear,” said Marchand.


Manulife Investment Management is not affiliated with Greenwald & Associates and is not responsible for the liabilities of the other. The 2021 Financial Stress survey was commissioned by Manulife Investment Management and John Hancock Retirement and conducted by Greenwald & Associates. The online, bilingual survey of 1,002 plan members drawn from a panel of everyday Canadians was conducted from August 25th through September 4th, 2021.

Click here to view the detailed financial stress survey whitepaper. 

About Manulife Investment Management

Manulife Investment Management is the global brand for the global wealth and asset management segment of Manulife Financial Corporation. We draw on more than a century of financial stewardship and the full resources of our parent company to serve individuals, institutions, and retirement plan members worldwide. Headquartered in Toronto, our leading capabilities in public and private markets are strengthened by an investment footprint that spans 18 geographies. We complement these capabilities by providing access to a network of unaffiliated asset managers from around the world. We’re committed to investing responsibly across our businesses. We develop innovative global frameworks for sustainable investing, collaboratively engage with companies in our securities portfolios, and maintain a high standard of stewardship where we own and operate assets, and we believe in supporting financial well-being through our workplace retirement plans. Today, plan sponsors around the world rely on our retirement plan administration and investment expertise to help their employees plan for, save for, and live a better retirement.

As of September 30, 2021, Manulife Investment Management’s assets under management and administration, including assets managed for Manulife’s other segments, totaled CAD $1.1 trillion (US $835 billion). Not all offerings are available in all jurisdictions. For additional information, please visit

About Manulife

Manulife Financial Corporation is a leading international financial services provider that helps people make their decisions easier and lives better. With our global headquarters in Toronto, Canada, we provide financial advice and insurance, operating as Manulife across Canada, Asia, and Europe, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States. Through Manulife Investment Management, the global brand for our global wealth and asset management segment, we serve individuals, institutions and retirement plan members worldwide. At the end of 2020, we had more than 37,000 employees, over 118,000 agents, and thousands of distribution partners, serving over 30 million customers. As of September 30, 2021, we had CAD$1.4 trillion (US$1.1 trillion) in assets under management and administration, and in the previous 12 months we made CAD$31.6 billion in payments to our customers.

Our principal operations are in Asia and Canada, and the United States, where we have served customers for more than 155 years. We trade as 'MFC' on the Toronto, New York, and the Philippine stock exchanges and under '945' in Hong Kong. Not all offerings are available in all jurisdictions. For additional information, please visit

Media Contact

Cheryl Holmes