Manulife Financial, John Hancock Investor Sentiment Surveys: Affluent North American Investors Believe They Are Financially On Track

  • Affluent Canadian and American investors optimistic about the future
  • Seventy per cent of affluent North American investors on track to meet financial goals
  • US investor sentiment holds steady while Canadian sentiment rises
  • Canadians and Americans aligned in financial New Year's resolutions and priorities

TSX/NYSE/PSE: MFC 
SEHK:945 

TORONTO, Jan. 21, 2013 /CNW/ - Affluent North American investors are feeling very optimistic about their personal finances heading into 2013. Seventy per cent of affluent investors in both Canada and the United States agree that they are either ahead of plan, or on track, to meet their personal financial goals and about 50 per cent anticipate that their financial position will improve over the next two years.

Six out of ten affluent Canadian and American investors say that they are on track to meet their current financial goals while roughly 10 per cent say that they are ahead of plan on their goals. Just one in five investors surveyed in both countries indicate that they are behind on their financial goals but they are likely to catch up.

"It's positive to see that, despite ongoing news about the fiscal cliff, global debt and U.S. debt ceiling, economic uncertainty and other challenges, our surveys indicate that affluent North American investors are feeling very confident about their financial future," said Paul Lorentz, Executive Vice-President, Investment and Insurance Solutions for Manulife Financial.

The findings are derived from a comparison of the results of the latest Manulife Financial and John Hancock Investor Sentiment Index surveys. The surveys - conducted in Canada and the U.S in December 2012 - measure affluent investors' feelings about whether or not this is a good time to invest in a variety of savings and investment vehicles and the likelihood of purchasing specific financial products and services.

Investor sentiment differs in North America
In Canada, overall affluent investor sentiment index strengthened in the second half of the year, rising to +31, from +26 in January 2012. In the U.S.,investors' confidence held steady in the fourth quarter of 2012, with the John Hancock Investor Sentiment Index® ticking upward slightly to +18 from a score of +17 in the third quarter of last year.

New Year's resolutions, financial priorities aligned
Other findings from the surveys show that Canadians and Americans are aligned in their financial New Year's resolutions and how they plan to achieve their top financial goals.

  • In Canada (31 per cent) and the United States (29 per cent), the top financial-planning related New Year's Resolution is to trim household budgets.
  • Rebalancing portfolios is the second top resolution for 19 per cent of Canadians and also for 19 per cent of Americans.

Top financial priorities for 2013 among affluent Canadians and Americans differ slightly.

  • Canadians' top three priorities are to manage/maintain current lifestyle (32 per cent), pay down debt (18 per cent) and save for retirement (15 per cent).
  • American respondents say their top financial priorities are the same: however, they differ in order with maintain/manage their current lifestyle (35 per cent) topping the list followed by, saving for retirement (29 per cent) and paying down debt (11 per cent).

Similar steps to achieving financial goals
When asked what steps, if any, affluent investors are taking to achieve their financial goals, Canadians and Americans identified the same top four steps. However, these steps varied in terms of priority.

Percentage of Affluent investors that indicated what steps they have taken to achieve their financial goals:

Step taken   Affluent Canadians     Affluent Americans  
Talked to a financial
professional for advice
45% 40%
Saved a certain amount on
a regular basis
41% 59%
Reduced spending 40% 45%
Calculated how much
money needed to achieve
goal
27% 41%

Seven in ten affluent Canadians work with a financial advisor to achieve their financial goals while in the U.S., five in ten affluent investors choose to seek professional financial advice. However, affluent investors in both countries indicated that they work with advisors for a similar reason. Seeking advice on how to get better returns is the main reason for Canadians (24 per cent) and Americans (56 per cent) to work with a professional financial advisor.

"We encourage people to work closely with an advisor and stick to a financial plan," Mr. Lorentz added. "People with integrated financial plans, working with strong, reliable and trustworthy companies, generally feel better prepared for the future, are more confident about reaching their goals and are better equipped deal with the ups and downs in the economy."

In both countries, those who do not work with a financial advisor say it is because they feel knowledgeable enough to manage their investments on their own (Canada, 26 per cent, U.S., 43 per cent).

About the Investor Sentiment Index Surveys
Both Investor Sentiment Index surveys are conducted in a similar fashion. The survey measures affluent investors' feelings about the current economic climate and their evaluations of what represents a good or bad investment given the current environment. The poll also asks consumers about their confidence in reaching key financial goals and the likelihood of purchasing financial products and services.

An online survey of 1,127 investors was conducted in the U.S. between November 26th to December 7th. In Canada, a sample of 1,003 investors were surveyed between November 30th to December 8th. Both surveys included household decision-makers at least 25 years of age, with a household income of $75,000 or greater and investable assets of $100,000 or more.

The Canadian research was conducted by Research House, an Environics Company. The U.S. survey was conducted by independent research firm Mathew Greenwald & Associates. 

In a similarly-sized random sample survey, the margin of error would be plus or minus +/- 3.10 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

About Manulife Financial
Manulife Financial is a leading Canada-based financial services group with principal operations in Asia, Canada and the United States. Clients look to Manulife for strong, reliable, trustworthy and forward-thinking solutions for their most significant financial decisions.

Our international network of employees, agents and distribution partners offers financial protection and wealth management products and services to millions of clients. We also provide asset management services to institutional customers. Funds under management by Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were C$515 billion (US$523 billion) as at September 30, 2012. The Company operates as Manulife Financial in Canada and Asia and primarily as John Hancock in the United States.

Manulife Financial Corporation trades as 'MFC' on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under '945' on the SEHK. Manulife Financial can be found on the Internet at manulife.com.

About John Hancock
John Hancock Financial is a division of Manulife Financial, a leading Canada-based financial services group with principal operations in Asia, Canada and the United States. Operating as Manulife Financial in Canada and Asia, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States, the Company offers clients a diverse range of financial protection products and wealth management services through its extensive network of employees, agents and distribution partners.

The John Hancock unit, through its insurance companies, comprises one of the largest life insurers in the United States. John Hancock offers a broad range of financial products and services, including life insurance, annuities, fixed products, mutual funds, 401(k) plans, long-term care insurance, college savings, and other forms of business insurance. Additional information about John Hancock may be found at johnhancock.com.

SOURCE Manulife Financial Corporation

Image with caption: "Affluent North American Investors Believe They Are Financially On Track(CNW Group/Manulife Financial Corporation)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130121_C7380_PHOTO_EN_22757.jpg



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