Albertans more worried about cash flow, saving for retirement amid COVID-19 pandemic, says RBC poll

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Cash-strapped Albertans are paying more attention to their finances amid the COVID-19 pandemic, shows an RBC Financial poll.

About 47 per cent of Albertans say they’re paying closer attention to day-to-day living expenses while more than half don’t have a financial plan in place, according to the poll released on Tuesday. Only 24 per cent of Albertans say they’re giving more attention to having enough money on hand if the pandemic worsens compared to the national average of 25 per cent.

Dawn Tam, a regional financial planning consultant with RBC, said managing debt has become a larger priority for Albertans as cash flow has become a bigger concern.

“We’re starting to perhaps run out of our savings or emergency funds that we might have had if we had one set up prior to the pandemic,” she said. “Future cash flow may be a concern if our cash flow doesn’t improve.”

According to the poll, 14 per cent of Albertans felt their cash flow improved during the pandemic while 33 per cent said it had gotten worse. Nationally, nearly 70 per cent of Canadians feel they are behind in saving for their retirement.

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Tam said that feeling is also shared among Albertans.

“A lot of people in Alberta are feeling like they haven’t saved enough for retirement,” she said. “Sixty-eight per cent of Albertans haven’t connected with a financial adviser over the last year. We’ve got these concerns of managing debt and managing cash flow and making sure that we’ve saved enough for retirement and yet we haven’t reached out to an adviser. That’s also a little bit concerning.”

Tam said Albertans may be reluctant to go in to see an adviser but many financial institutions now offer online options to make that easier. She said an adviser can also provide a better sense of where someone is financially by looking at cash flow, net worth, home value and liabilities.

Once an adviser has an understanding of someone’s financial situation, they will be in a position to provide options, Tam said.

“They can figure out what resources they might have available to maybe improve cash flow over the short term,” she said. “What we’re finding is that Albertans may find themselves in one of two places. There’s the first situation of those who have been impacted severely by the pandemic … and then we’ve got the other camp of people … that are not as impacted financially. We’re actually seeing some of our clients here at RBC actually able to save money during this pandemic.”

Tam said there’s no time limit to start a financial plan even if someone is close to retirement.

“I always say having a plan is better than no plan,” she said.

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