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Generations have different priorities, but all burdened by debt

By Andrew Rickard | December 01 2015 09:45AM

A survey commissioned by AGF Investments asked Canadians from various demographic groups to identify their top priorities: not many people are concerned about preparing for their old age, since just 18% of respondents ranked retirement savings as their number one priority.

AGF's report, called The Great Divide, revealed the following differences between the generations’ immediate priorities:

  • Golden (Aged 65 + years): 69% are focused on living the good life now
  • Baby Boomers (Aged 50 – 64 years): 46% are saving for a major planned expenditure/rainy day
  • Generation X (Aged 35 – 49 years): 34% are focused on paying/saving for their children's education
  • Millennials (Aged 18 – 34 years): 43% are saving to own a condo or a house, 21% are paying/saving for their children's education and 15% are taking care of elderly parents.

The survey also looked at the way men and women approach investing; on average men start investing at 28-years-old, while women wait until they are 31. "Before choosing an investment, men are more likely to read websites/blogs/posts online, while women look to trusted sources such as parents/grandparents and their financial advisor." reads the report. "Men are focused on funding their retirement goals, while women are focused on current living expenses and paying off short-term debt."

Finally, the poll examined the divide between do-it-yourself (DIY) investors and those who use an advisor. Half of DIYers have never used an advisor, although one out of five indicated they would consider doing so when have enough money saved up or when they feel like they are no longer successfully investing on their own. Overall, most investors believe that someone needs to have at least $25,000 in savings to make it worthwhile to see a professional.

One unifying factor was the fact that all groups owed money. "Debt unites Canadians across every generation," says AGF. "The survey found that 31% of Canadian investors reported paying off current financial obligations as their number one priority."

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