Average amount held in RRSPs rises by 21% since 2016

By The IJ Staff | January 30 2019 09:30AM

The average amount held in RRSPs nationally is $101,155. This is an increase of 21 per cent increase compared to $83,635 in 2016, according to BMO Financial Group’s annual RRSP study.

By region, the study found the average amount held in RRSPs is lowest in the Atlantic provinces at $78,454. The region with the highest average amount is the Prairies ($129,545).

Millennials versus Boomers

BMO’s report showed that Millennials are outpacing Boomers when it comes to RRSP account growth. Millennials accounted for the highest percentage increase with 87 per cent since 2016 ($28,821 vs $15,377 in 2016).

Boomers’ accounts increased on average by 30 per cent over the same period ($178,664 from $137,360 in 2016).

"While balances typically rise due to contributions and asset appreciation, it is important to note Canadians of all generations are saving for retirement despite financial priorities and market volatility," said Robert Armstrong, Vice President, Multi Asset Solutions, BMO Global Asset Management. "It is encouraging to see a national shift in the attitude and approach to retirement – especially amongst Millennials surveyed."

Contributions average $5,247

Contributing to their RRSPs before the deadline is also a priority for those surveyed, with 62 per cent having already done so or are planning to do so, the survey found. Those who have already contributed put in an average of $5,247 in 2018.

RRSP withdrawal frequency has declined by one third since 2017. “However, Canadians who decide to dip into their retirement savings before age 71 are taking out larger amounts,” according to BMO’s survey. The 2018 national average withdrawn was $25,779 compared to $20,952 in 2017.

Home Buyers' Plan

"Buying a home remains the top reason for withdrawing funds according to those surveyed," notes Robert Armstrong. "While they are taking a concentrated look at retirement investments and saving for their futures, Canadians continue to take advantage of the federal government's Home Buyers' Plan through RRSP withdrawals."

The program allows first-time home buyers to withdraw up to $25,000 tax-free from their RRSPs to purchase or build a qualifying home. The withdrawal must be repaid to the RRSP over a 15-year period.