By 2028, women in Canada will control 42% of the country's wealth, but there are still challenges to achieving financial empowerment

Toronto, March 8, 2021 - "The majority of women in Ontario still face economic inequalities that affect their financial empowerment. However, there's some good news on the horizon: by 2028, women in Canada will control 42% of the country's wealth[1]. Desjardins Wealth Management salutes Canadian women who have a financial plan in place to achieve their goals, and commends their willingness to take an active part in managing their personal or family finances," said Monique Dubois, Certified Financial Planner at Desjardins Ontario Credit Union, in celebration of International Women's Day.

Thanks to the surge of women in the workforce in recent decades, Canadian women's share of wealth has been consistently on the rise. According to Investor Economics, it will reach $3,200 billion in 2028 (42%), compared to $1,400 billion, or 35%, in 2016. This increase is also due to the assets women are set to inherit in Canada, a transfer estimated at $900 billion between 2016 and 2026[2].

Despite these encouraging numbers, women confront real challenges in Canada when it comes to wealth management. On average, Canadian women earn less than men, regardless of their level of education or where they live in the country, as seen in the table below.

Average employment income by education levels for Ontarians aged 25 to 65 working full-time, year-round, by gender (2016 census)

table 1 wealth management.PNG

Source: Niveau de scolarité et revenu d'emploi (in French only), Institut de la statistique du Québec, 2018

These wage gaps affect Canadian women's ability to save, and consequently mean that their RRSP contribution room (18% of their taxable income, up to a maximum of $27,830 in 2021) is lower than that of their male counterparts. This partly explains why women's retirement savings, on average, are about 80% of men's.

Wealth management for women

Monique Dubois wants everyone to remember three important steps to financial empowerment: budgeting, retirement planning (knowledge of registered plans) and estate protection (legal aspects) and offers these examples of successful strategies you can adopt.

Budgeting

Women's disposable income, and their ability to save, is impacted if they exit the workforce to have children. Women who are caregivers (of children with disabilities or aging parents), face similar financial consequences.

  • The most recent statistics indicate that 23% of women take part in managing their finances. Helping to manage the household budget is a way for you to share responsibilities and set common goals.
  • 31% of Canadian women consider themselves financially literate; 75% wish they had gotten an earlier start. One way to become more financially literate is to establish a personalized individual or joint financial plan.
  • Studies show that working with a financial advisor and reviewing your financial plan every year helps increase the value of your assets. One study by CIRANO, for example, revealed that Canadian households working with a financial advisor for 15 years or more accumulated 290% more assets than households without an advisor.
  • Pre-authorized transfers make it easier to reach your saving goals; making transfers on a more frequent, regular basis (weekly, bi-weekly or monthly) instead of once a year will generally deliver higher returns because savings benefit from the power of compound interest over a longer period of time.

Retirement planning

Canadian women have a life expectancy of 84.1 years, versus 80.2 for men, which extends the stage of their life when they'll receive money from government and private pension plans (if offered by the employer) and have to manage the income from their personal savings.

  • With help from your advisor, evaluate tax optimization strategies for using your and your spouse's RRSP contribution room, TFSA contribution room and the conditions of your registered education savings plan (RESP) if you have children.
  • When determining your investor profile, make sure you thoroughly understand your portfolio mix and the volatility it could face. 46% of Canadian women are interested in responsible investing; according to Morningstar, 42% of sustainable equity funds ranked in the top quartile in terms of performance in 2020.
  • When you retire, if you can afford it, it's worth considering deferring your CPP benefits, since they'll go up if you wait until at least age 65 to collect. After that age, CPP benefits increase by 0.7% per month up to a 42% increase by age 70.

Estate protection

Canadian baby-boomer widows outlive their partners by 10 to 15 years, and for every four widows in Canada, there is one widower.

  • Are you married or in a common-law relationship? If so, it's important to remember that you need a will to protect your surviving spouse. Under Ontario's Succession Law Reform Act, in the absence of a will, common-law spouses aren't recognized as heirs, and married spouses are rarely the sole heir.
  • For example, if you don't have a will and you leave behind a spouse and a child, your spouse would receive the preferential share of $200,000 and then split the remainder of the estate with your child. If you leave behind a spouse and multiple children, your spouse would receive the first $200,000 and a third of the remainder of the estate, while your children would receive equal parts of the remaining two-thirds. The surviving spouse inherits the entire estate only if the couple has no children.
  • If you have a tax-free savings account (TFSA) and your will pre-dates 2009, you need to add a TFSA-specific clause. That way, in the event of your death, the money can be transferred to your spouse without affecting their contribution room.
  • With a power of attorney for personal care and a continuing power of attorney for property, you can name someone to make decisions for you if you're unable to do so. This allows you to choose someone you trust to look after you and manage your property if you can't.
  • Even if you have designated a beneficiary in your pension fund or will, it's important to know that priority is given to the spouse recognized under the plan, unless this person has waived their rights in favour of your heirs. The term "recognized spouse" may vary from one plan to another, so be sure to check with your plan administrator to find out what rules apply to your situation in the event of your death.
  • The two main tax consequences of death are the deemed of disposition of capital property at fair market value (FMV), and the inclusion of the value of the registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) in the deceased's income. There are a few solutions to consider depending on the situation. If there is a surviving spouse, it's possible to leave some or all of the assets and registered plans to them. This solution is commonly known as the spousal rollover, and it defers the taxes payable until the surviving spouse disposes of these assets, withdraws the funds from the registered plans or dies.

Desjardins Wealth Management is proud to support Canadian women by offering strategies that reflect their priorities. For some, this may be saving for their children's education, protecting their income in the event of an illness or establishing a savings strategy so they can enjoy their retirement when the time comes. For those enjoying their retirement, this may mean ensuring their financial security so they can make the most of this phase of their life. We offer support that's personalized and based on their reality, whether they're employees, self-employed or business owners. The important thing for women is that this planning makes sense and they can see how it will help them and their loved ones.

About Desjardins Ontario Credit Union

Desjardins Ontario Credit Union serves 130,000 active members mainly in the private, commercial, real estate and agricultural sectors and has 51 branches. It has a business volume of more than $17.1 billion and assets of more than $8.5 billion. This strong, high-performing organization, with rich and diverse expertise, has 650 employees, making them a major employer in Ontario. It is governed by a board of directors consisting of 17 elected directors and 2 young intern directors. This new credit union ranks 2nd among Ontario caisses populaires and credit unions according to assets and business volume.

[1] The Private Wealth Industry Demand, Investor Economics, ISSMI Market Intelligence, October 2020

[2] Unless otherwise indicated, the source for the data in this press release is: Women and Wealth. The changing face of wealth in Canada and its implications for financial advisors, Investment Planning Counsel, 08-2017

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