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					FOR IMMEIDATE RELEASE                                                            #debt
December 6, 2011                                                               #mortgage


      Canadians continue to miss easy-to-implement
     opportunities to reduce their personal debt faster
Waterloo – Manulife Bank of Canada‟s most recent consumer debt survey found that, despite a
record number of Canadian homeowners putting a high priority on becoming debt-free (77%),
many Canadians continue to miss a variety of easy-to-implement opportunities to pay down
their debts faster. These missed opportunities have led, in part, to more than six in 10 (61%)
Canadians struggling to reduce their debt over the past year -- either increasing their debt
(25%), seeing no change in their debt (15%), or reducing their debt, but by less than they
expected (21%).

When Canadians were asked what their primary obstacles are to becoming debt-free, the top
three barriers identified were a lack of extra money to put towards debt repayment (54%), the
overall amount of their debts (43%) and the interest rates they pay on their debts (39%) –
despite interest rates remaining at near historic low levels. Another quarter of Canadians (27%)
identified the number of different debts they have as a barrier to debt freedom.

“Many Canadians have told us they are unable to pay down their debts as quickly as they would
like because they don‟t have the money, their interest rates are too high, or they have too many
debts to deal with effectively,” noted Doug Conick, President and CEO of Manulife Bank.
“Canadians should be aware there are a variety of actions they can take to reduce their
personal debt more quickly that don‟t take a lot of time or effort. Create a financial plan that
include targets for debt repayment; consolidate debt at one low rate and, above all else, seek
advice from a professional financial advisor.”

The Manulife Bank survey results found that even in the face of these obstacles to debt
freedom, many Canadians are not taking advantage of a variety of strategies that would help
them overcome these barriers and reduce their debt faster. For example:

   4 in 10 Canadians (43%) do not plan to consolidate their debts at a single low interest rate.
    Consolidating debt is an easy way for people to get out of debt faster by ensuring more of
    their monthly payments are going towards the principle debt instead of interest costs.

   Among respondents with a mortgage, 70% did not make any extra payments on their
    mortgage in the past year. According the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada‟s online
          calculator, if a person with a $200,000 mortgage (25 year amortization, 4% interest rate,
          monthly payments) increased their payment by $100 per month, they'd save more than
          $17,000 in interest and pay off their mortgage almost three and a half years sooner.

         Two-thirds of homeowners (65%) did not compare mortgage products from more than one
          lender the last time their mortgage came due – an easy-to-implement strategy that can result in
          greater flexibility.

         More than half of Canadians (55%) do not plan to work with a professional financial advisor to
          get advice on how they can more effectively manage their debt; and fewer than six in 10
          Canadians (56%) have, or intend to create, a debt repayment plan that includes a specific date
          for when they expect to be debt-free.

      “Creating a plan to pay down your debts and getting expert advice from a financial advisor are
      the right places to start for Canadians looking to turn their good intentions with regards to debt
      reduction into reality,” concluded Conick. “A solid debt repayment plan and a good financial
      advisor can go a long way toward helping Canadians better understand the opportunities they
      have to pay down their debts faster – and this may involve nothing more than organizing your
      finances more efficiently.”

      The Manulife Bank of Canada poll surveyed 1,000 Canadian homeowners between ages 30 to
      59 with household income of more than $50,000. It was conducted online by Research House
      between October 25 and November 7, 2011. In a similarly-sized random sample survey, the
      margin of error would be plus or minus 3.10% at a 95% confidence level.

      Full results of Manulife Bank‟s most recent consumer debt survey can be found at
      manulifebank.ca/debtresearch.

      About Manulife Bank
      Established in 1993, Manulife Bank was the first federally regulated bank opened by an
      insurance company in Canada. It is a Schedule l federally chartered bank and a wholly-owned
      subsidiary of Manulife Financial. As Canada‟s first advisor-based bank, it has successfully
      grown to more than $20 billion in assets and serves clients across Canada. Manulife Bank
      believes that effective debt management is a key contributor to financial health and that, by
      working with a Financial Advisor to create a customized financial plan that incorporates debt
      and cash flow management, many people could save money, become debt-free sooner and
      achieve more of their financial goals. It‟s for this reason that Manulife Bank offers its innovative
      deposit and loan products through independent financial advisors to help individuals make the
      most of their financial plan. Manulife Bank employs a team of specialists across the country that
      work with homeowners and financial advisors to design cash flow programs that are more
      effective, efficient and flexible. For more information about Manulife Bank products, speak to
      your financial advisor or visit manulifebank.ca. To learn more about Manulife One or find your
      local Manulife Bank specialist ask your advisor for a referral or visit manulifeone.ca.

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Manulife Bank Consumer Debt Survey – December 6, 2011
      About Manulife Financial
      Manulife Financial is a leading Canada-based financial services group operating in 21 countries
      and territories worldwide. For more than 120 years, clients have looked 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
      provide asset management services to institutional customers worldwide as well as reinsurance
      solutions, specializing in property and casualty retrocession. Funds under management by
      Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were C$492billion (US$473 billion) as at September 30,
      2011. 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.

      A graphic highlighting the five common mistakes Canadians make with debt is available for
      download and use.

      Media contact:
      Michael May
      AVP, Media Relations
      Manulife Financial Canadian Division
      519-594-2660




                                                     3


Manulife Bank Consumer Debt Survey – December 6, 2011
      Manulife Bank Consumer
      Debt Survey




      December 6, 2011


      #debt
      #mortgage



                                                 4


Manulife Bank Consumer Debt Survey – December 6, 2011
      About this survey
      This Manulife Bank of Canada poll surveyed 1,000 Canadian homeowners between ages 30 to 59 with
      household income of more than $50,000. It was conducted online by Research House between October
      25 and November 7, 2011.

      With this survey, we asked a number of debt-related questions for three distinct age categories - 30-39,
      40-49 and 50-59 – to help understand attitudes and behaviors with regards to debt among these
      demographic groups.


      About Manulife Bank’s debt research
      Manulife Bank believes that, by managing debt more effectively, many people could save money,
      become debt-free sooner and achieve more of their financial goals.

      Effective debt management is a key contributor to financial health and, by conducting surveys and
      research into debt management, we’d like to:

       1. Inform and encourage a public discussion of consumer debt, in a way that helps people understand
          the role that debt plays in their financial health.

       2. Educate Canadian consumers on effective debt management by providing information and insights.

       3. Encourage Canadians to discuss debt management with their families and financial advisors and look
          for ways to manage their debt more effectively.




                                                         5


Manulife Bank Consumer Debt Survey – December 6, 2011
               Survey
               1.      On a scale of 1-10, where does becoming or being debt-free rank as a financial
                       priority, where 1 means it’s not a priority and 10 means it’s your top financial
                       priority?


                           Financial priority (8-10)
                 Overall            23%                24%                  30%           77%


              Ages 50-59          20%              24%                      36%              80%

              Ages 40-49             27%                     26%               25%         78%

              Ages 30-39            23%                22%               31%             76%

                                           8                 9         10



                           Not a financial priority (1-4)
                 Overall     3%


              Ages 50-59       5%


              Ages 40-49    2%


              Ages 30-39     2%



               Highlights
              The percentage of respondents indicating that being or becoming debt-free is a top
               financial priority (77%) represents a two point increase from the previous quarterly
               survey.




                                                             6


Manulife Bank Consumer Debt Survey – December 6, 2011
             2.       When you think about how your debt has changed over the past 12 months,
                      would you say you’ve:


                              Increased your total debt
               Overall                            25%
            Ages 50-59                         21%
            Ages 40-49                              27%
            Ages 30-39                                29%

                              Neither increased or decreased your total debt
               Overall                    15%
            Ages 50-59                     16%
            Ages 40-49                      17%
            Ages 30-39                  12%
                              Reduced your total debt
                  Overall         21%                    24%            7%    52%
            Ages 50-59           19%                    27%             7%      53%
            Ages 40-49           19%                    25%          6%      50%
            Ages 30-39                25%                 21%           7%    53%
               Reduced your debt , but by less than you had expected
               Reduced your debt by about the amount you had expected
               Reduced your debt by more than you expected


                              I haven't had debt during the past 12 months
               Overall             8%
            Ages 50-59                  11%
            Ages 40-49           6%
            Ages 30-39           6%


             Highlights
              52% of respondents saw some debt reduction over the past 12 months, compared to
                48% in the previous quarterly survey.
              One in four respondents increased their debt over the past 12 months.
              Just over three in 10 reduced their debt by as much as or more than they expected.
                                                    7


Manulife Bank Consumer Debt Survey – December 6, 2011
             3.         We’d like to understand what strategies homeowners use or plan to use to help
                        them become debt-free. For each of the following debt-management strategies,
                        please indicate whether you already use this strategy, do not use the strategy,
                        but plan to use it in 2012 or do not plan to use this strategy:



                                        Consolidate my debts at a single low rate

                                                                                   43%
                  Do not plan to use                                                 45%
                     this strategy                                                42%
                                                                                 41%
                     Do not use the                           23%
                   strategy, but plan                       21%
                                                              23%
                    to use it in 2012                            27%
                                                                          34%
                     Aready use this                                      34%
                        strategy                                           35%
                                                                        32%

                                                Overall             Ages 50-59              Ages 40-49      Ages 30-39




                                        Make extra payments on my debts, beyond what my lender requires

                                                            20%
                  Do not plan to use                          22%
                     this strategy                           21%
                                                          18%
                     Do not use the                              27%
                   strategy, but plan                         23%
                                                                  28%
                    to use it in 2012                             28%
                                                                                             53%
                     Aready use this                                                          54%
                        strategy                                                           50%
                                                                                              54%

                                               Overall          Ages 50-59             Ages 40-49        Ages 30-39




                                                                    8


Manulife Bank Consumer Debt Survey – December 6, 2011
                                     Work with a financial advisor to help manage my debt more effectively

                                                                                       57%
               Do not plan to use                                                        59%
                  this strategy                                                    52%
                                                                                     55%
                  Do not use the                        18%
                strategy, but plan                12%
                                                         20%
                 to use it in 2012                         23%
                                                               26%
                  Aready use this                                  30%
                     strategy                                    28%
                                                         21%

                                             Overall           Ages 50-59        Ages 40-49          Ages 30-39




                                     Always repay credit card balances in full before interest is charged

                                                     16%
               Do not plan to use                   15%
                  this strategy                        19%
                                                   14%
                  Do not use the                             25%
                strategy, but plan                       20%
                                                           22%
                 to use it in 2012                                 32%
                                                                                         59%
                  Aready use this                                                              65%
                     strategy                                                           58%
                                                                                     54%

                                        Overall     Ages 50-59      Ages 40-49   Ages 30-39




                                                               9


Manulife Bank Consumer Debt Survey – December 6, 2011
                                     Create a written budget to track and manage my spending

                                                                31%
               Do not plan to use                                32%
                  this strategy                                    35%
                                                          25%
                  Do not use the                          25%
                strategy, but plan                     22%
                                                        23%
                 to use it in 2012                              30%
                                                                            44%
                  Aready use this                                             46%
                     strategy                                             42%
                                                                             45%

                                        Overall   Ages 50-59     Ages 40-49     Ages 30-39




                                     Create a debt repayment plan with a specific date for when I want to be
                                                                  debt-free
                                                                            44%
               Do not plan to use                                           44%
                  this strategy                                               46%
                                                                         40%
                  Do not use the                           27%
                strategy, but plan                      23%
                                                          26%
                 to use it in 2012                                34%
                                                             29%
                  Aready use this                               33%
                     strategy                               28%
                                                          26%

                                        Overall   Ages 50-59     Ages 40-49     Ages 30-39



             Highlights
                More than four in 10 respondents do not plan to consolidate their debt at a low
                rate, despite this being one of the easiest ways to save interest costs.
                About six in 10 respondents pay their credit card balances in full each month before
                interest is charged.
                Just over four in 10 have a written budget to help manage their spending and fewer
                than three in 10 have outlined a plan for becoming debt-free.



                                                          10


Manulife Bank Consumer Debt Survey – December 6, 2011
             4.     [If respondent has debt] We’d like to better understand the obstacles that
                    homeowners face in becoming debt-free. Please indicate to what degree each of
                    the following factors makes it more difficult for you to become debt-free.

                    (Scale of 1-5, where 1 = Is not an obstacle to becoming debt-free and 5 = A
                    significant obstacle to becoming debt-free). The graphs show the percentage of
                    respondents scoring the item as a 4 or 5 out of 5, indicating the factor makes it
                    difficult for them to become debt-free.


                                 The amount of extra money I have available to put toward debt repayment
                       Overall                                                53%
                    Ages 50-59                                          47%
                    Ages 40-49                                                52%
                    Ages 30-39                                                      60%



                                 The amount of debt that I have
                       Overall                                        43%
                    Ages 50-59                                  37%
                    Ages 40-49                                         45%
                    Ages 30-39                                          47%



                                 The interest rate(s) on my debt
                       Overall                                   39%
                    Ages 50-59                                 36%
                    Ages 40-49                                   39%
                    Ages 30-39                                     42%


                                 Concern that, if I use my extra money to repay debt, I won’t be able to access
                                                        that money again if a need arises
                       Overall                                 35%
                    Ages 50-59                              30%
                    Ages 40-49                                  37%
                    Ages 30-39                                   38%




                                                       11


Manulife Bank Consumer Debt Survey – December 6, 2011
                                 The importance of debt repayment relative to my other financial priorities
                       Overall                               32%
                    Ages 50-59                            27%
                    Ages 40-49                               32%
                    Ages 30-39                                  36%



                                 Effort involved in making extra debt payments
                       Overall                                33%
                    Ages 50-59                             28%
                    Ages 40-49                                33%
                    Ages 30-39                                  36%



                                 The ability of me or my family to control spending
                       Overall                               30%
                    Ages 50-59                            26%
                    Ages 40-49                              29%
                    Ages 30-39                                     37%



                                 The number of different debts that I have
                       Overall                            27%
                    Ages 50-59                      21%
                    Ages 40-49                             28%
                    Ages 30-39                                33%



                                 Prepayment penalties on my mortgage and/or other loans
                       Overall                       24%
                    Ages 50-59                    20%
                    Ages 40-49                     22%
                    Ages 30-39                          29%



                                 My knowledge of debt-management strategies and products
                       Overall                      22%
                    Ages 50-59                15%
                    Ages 40-49                      22%
                    Ages 30-39                             29%




                                                          12


Manulife Bank Consumer Debt Survey – December 6, 2011
             Highlights
              The most commonly cited obstacle to becoming debt-free is the lack of extra money
                to allocate toward debt repayment.
              Almost four in 10 respondents cite “interest rate” as an obstacle to becoming debt-
                free, despite the fact that we’re in a very low interest-rate environment.
              More than a third of respondents may be avoiding making extra payments on their
                debt out of a concern that they won’t be able to access that money again if a need
                arises.




                                                   13


Manulife Bank Consumer Debt Survey – December 6, 2011
             5.     Did you make any extra payments toward your mortgage in the past year,
                    beyond what was required by your lender?


                                  Yes
                        Overall                              26%
                     Ages 50-59                            23%
                     Ages 40-49                              26%
                     Ages 30-39                                28%


                                  No
                        Overall                                                              59%
                     Ages 50-59                                                 48%
                     Ages 40-49                                                                    64%
                     Ages 30-39                                                                     66%


                                  Don't have a mortgage
                        Overall                      15%
                     Ages 50-59                                29%
                     Ages 40-49                10%
                     Ages 30-39           6%

             Highlights
              About one in four respondents (or 30% of those with a mortgage) made at least one
                extra payment on their mortgage within the past year.




                                                  14


Manulife Bank Consumer Debt Survey – December 6, 2011
             6.         If you answered “no” to the question 5, why not?


                                                                                                      51%
                                    I didn’t have any extra money                                      52%
                                                                                                         56%
                                                                                                44%
                                                                                  15%
                               Other spending priorities came up                 14%
                                                                                  15%
                                                                                  15%
                                                                                 14%
            I made extra payments towards other debts instead                   13%
                                                                               11%
                                                                                   18%

                  I've got a low rate on my mortgage so it doesn’t       6%
                                                                           9%
                        make sense to make extra payments               5%
                                                                       4%

             I didn’t want to lose access to the money in case I             7%
                                                                            6%
                        needed it for something else                       5%
                                                                               10%
                                                                       3%
                                             It wasn’t convenient     2%
                                                                        5%
                                                                       3%

               I don’t know how much extra money my lender           1%
                                                                     1%
                 would allow me to put toward my mortgage            1%
                                                                     1%
                                                                      1%
                                                           Other      1%
                                                                     0%
                                                                      1%

                                Overall            Ages 50-59               Ages 40-49   Ages 30-39



             Highlights
              By far the most common reason cited for not making an extra mortgage payment
                was a lack of extra money.




                                                            15


Manulife Bank Consumer Debt Survey – December 6, 2011
             7.        Last time your mortgage came up for renewal, did you:



                                                                                  20%
                                                                                  21%
                  Stay with my current lender and didn’t negotiate
                                                                               16%
                                                                                     24%



                                                                                                      45%

                    Stay with my current lender without shopping                                            52%
                      around, but tried to negotiate a good deal                                          48%
                                                                                              35%



                                                                                              35%

                      Compare products from several lenders and                         28%
                          choose the best overall product                                     36%
                                                                                                    41%


                              Overall            Ages 50-59          Ages 40-49            Ages 30-39



             Highlights
              Almost two in three respondents failed to compare products from various lenders
                the last time their mortgage came up for renewal.
              The youngest group was most likely to shop around (41%) but also most likely to
                accept their current lender’s offer without negotiating (24%).



                                                         16


Manulife Bank Consumer Debt Survey – December 6, 2011
      Manulife, Manulife Bank, the Manulife Bank For Your Future logo and the Block Design are
      trademarks of The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company and are used by it, and by its
      affiliates under license.



                                                   17


Manulife Bank Consumer Debt Survey – December 6, 2011

				
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