May 9, 2018

Toronto, Canada

Mercer Study Finds Financial Worries Span All Income Levels; Most Workers Over 50 Don’t have a Retirement Savings Strategy; Women Score Lower than Men


  • Only one-third of respondents over 50 say they have a strategy for managing and spending their retirement savings
  • Of the women surveyed, less than half (43 per cent) say they are knowledgeable or fairly-knowledgeable about financial matters (vs. 58 per cent of men).
  • Nearly 20 per cent of employees in households making $100,000 - $150,000 a year surveyed say they don’t feel in control of their financial situation

Mercer, a global consulting leader in advancing health, wealth and career, and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), today announced findings of its Inside Employees’ Minds Financial Wellness survey. More than 1,500 employees across Canada were asked about their financial attitudes, preferences and behaviours to identify steps employers need to take to help workers achieve it.

Findings suggest that although financial literacy levels are high, knowledge is not translating into action and financial security and wellness. Among the findings was the fact that just over half (51 per cent) of respondents stated they were knowledgeable about financial matters – the same percentage of respondents that also scored high in the global financial literacy test. However, seven out of 10 respondents stated difficulty in managing a financial shock (such as 3 months of work); 39 per cent stated their total monthly loan payment is more than their take-home pay; and 51 per cent stated they are stressed by financial matters.

“Something we see time and time again is financial literacy doesn’t translate into financial wellness,” says Jillian Kennedy, Leader of Canadian DC and Financial Wellness at Mercer in Canada. “It’s a trend that spans all ages, income levels and gender. From productivity to engagement to employee health, it’s becoming increasingly important for employers to be a part of the solution in bridging wellness and literacy for employees.”

Financial wellness reaches beyond retirement security or financial literacy. Mercer research shows there are four questions that must be answered when determining whether a person has achieved financial wellness:

  • Do people feel they have control over their day-to-day and month-to-month finances? Do they know what’s coming in and going out, and are they comfortable with it?
  • Do people have the ability to absorb a financial shock? If they had to come up with $500 right away, could they do it?
  • Are people making real progress in achieving their financial goals? Not just saving for retirement, but meeting more immediate goals such as upgrading a home or saving for a vacation?
  • Do people have the financial freedom to make choices that allow them to enjoy life? For example, can they afford to travel? Can they retire when they want?

Findings also suggest while financial wellness programs are viewed as a major factor in selecting a new employer (30 per cent), few trust their employers when it comes to financial information or advice. In fact, only 40 per cent of workers surveyed say they trust their employers, compared with 72 per cent who trust their personal finance advisor.

It’s important for employers to find ways to foster trust and support employees’ financial wellness, especially those that need it most including women and people nearing the age of retirement.

Of the women surveyed, less than half (43 per cent) say they are knowledgeable or fairly-knowledgeable about financial matters (vs. 58 per cent of men). In addition, 67 per cent of women surveyed are stressed about their financial situation. Tips for employers to personalize financial wellness programs for women include: peer-to-peer counselling amongst women and running financial wellness workshops from women advisors from outside of the company.

While retirement is a topic closely tied to financial wellness, employees can’t save for retirement if they’re not financially well on a day-to-day basis. Employers need to help their workers today before they can tackle the future.

“There’s no one-size-fits all approach for employers to help their employees,” continued Kennedy. “It’s important to tailor wellness programs to each companies’ workforce to drive productivity and engagement, not to mention general health overall.”

Mercer Canada has launched its Mercer Financial Wellness Index where organizations can benchmark its workforce against the wider Canadian marketplace.

Boston Research Technologies conducted an online survey on behalf of Mercer of n=1,500 Canadian employees between the dates of May 23 2017 and May 29 2017. The associated margin of error for a randomly selected sample of this size is ±2.5% at a 95% confidence interval.

Mercer delivers advice and technology-driven solutions that help organizations meet the health, wealth and career needs of a changing workforce. Mercer’s more than 23,000 employees are based in 44 countries and the firm operates in over 130 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), the leading global professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people. With more than 65,000 colleagues and annual revenue over $14 billion, through its market-leading companies including Marsh, Guy Carpenter and Oliver Wyman, Marsh & McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment. For more information, visit Follow Mercer on Twitter @MercerCanada.