For many Canadians, retirement planning carries a worrying or even negative connotation, likely due to the fact that our financial lives have grown increasingly complex. A greater portion of people's net worth is tied up in real estate with less liquid assets. There is also a higher consumer and student loan debt burden, and greater intergenerational financial pressures and dependencies. But when approached in a methodical, sustainable, and responsible way, planning for retirement can bring peace of mind and long-term financial freedom long after you've stopped earning a salaried income.

Start slowly, steadily, and simply

When it comes to investing, time is your best friend.

In their 2018 study, Encouraging Retirement Planning through Behavioural Insights, the Ontario Securities Commission identified four roadblocks that hold Canadians back from planning for retirement. Namely, that retirement planning can seem hard to start, it's easy to put off until later, it can be easy to get overwhelmed, and it can be challenging to get the right advice.

When it comes to investing, time is your best friend. The principal amount invested earns monthly or annual compounding interest over time which means that the earlier you start, the less you have to invest monthly in order to have a larger nest egg at retirement.

How to choose your retirement investments

Between traditional investments like mutual funds, more conservative bonds and guaranteed investment certificates (GICs), high-growth equities, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), Canadian investors have more options for smart retirement savings than ever.

We are increasingly investing in low-cost, index ETFs through companies known as a robo-advisors. These services typically cost around 1% less than a professional investment advisor and are primarily done online. Similar to a mutual fund, an ETF can be held in a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), or a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA).

According to Tyler Fleming, Director of the Investor Office at the Ontario Securities Commission, investors should start by asking themselves the following questions when looking for a financial advisor:

  • What are my goals?
  • How much do I know about investing?
  • How much money do I plan on investing?
  • What sorts of products or services am I looking for?

Financial advisors can help you identify your financial goals and how to navigate the risks involved with different types of investments. Most advisors require permission when making trades on their clients' behalf. It's important to establish how often your financial advisor will meet with and communicate with you, so be sure to have that conversation and set expectations early on. Typically, most advisors have an annual or semi-annual check-in with clients.


Be proactive with your financial future.

Get Smarter About Money, an initiative by the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC), provides unbiased information and independent financial tools to help you make better financial and retirement planning decisions.


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