Cambrian Retirement Survey Results

Senior couple drinking coffee

Everybody’s retirement needs and plans are unique, but we wanted to know what makes a person truly confident in their ability to retire. In order to find out, Cambrian conducted a survey of over 5,500 Canadians between December 2017 and March 2018 to learn about the retirement planning and savings habits of the average Canadian, and we’re here to share some of the success stories that we learned.


  • Average age: 52.45
  • 50.77% of respondents were female
  • Approximately 35% were retired

When Do Canadians Retire?

More than three-quarters (77%) of retirees indicated that they had retired before the age of 65, but those who are still in the workforce are less confident in their ability to retire that early. Among non-retirees, only 56% of respondents had a goal date of 64 or younger. Almost 8% of those in the workforce indicated that they do not have a retirement date in mind.

What Do Canadians Do When They Retire?

The most popular answer among both retirees and those who haven’t yet retired is that they plan to travel during their retirement years, with over 75% of respondents answering that travel is their primary goal. Other popular answers were spending more time with family, volunteering, and golf.

How are Canadians Funding Retirement?

The most common sources of retirement income for both retirees and non-retirees are the Government of Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security supplement. Employer pensions are becoming a less common source of anticipated retirement income for those who are still working, meaning non-retirees are more likely to require personal RRSP savings plans to fund their retirement.

Part-time work in retirement is an expectation of many pre-retirees, with almost 40% expecting to rely on part-time employment to make up some of their retirement income. About 1/5 of retirees indicated they currently work part-time.

Some pre-retirees believe luck is truly on their side, with 4.6% of them believing they will fund their retirement using lottery winnings. It might be wise to have a back-up plan in place, since the true odds of winning a lottery jackpot are approximately 1 in 14 million.

How Confident Are We?

The possibility of funding a long retirement seems to be weighing on those still in the workforce. When asked to rate their confidence level from 0 to 100 on their ability to fund their retirement long-term, the average response for pre-retirees was 59%, compared to 79% for those who have already retired.

Part of this may have to do with a lack of planning – approximately ¼ of those who are not yet retired do not have a formal retirement plan in place, compared to only 4% of retirees. The primary challenge identified for pre-retirees was a lack of room in their budget (33%) followed by starting a savings plan too late (32%). Professional advice plays a significant role as well – the average confidence level of an individual who works with an advisor is over 9% higher than someone who does not.

The Value of Advice

We asked our respondents if they could give one piece of advice to themselves at age 18 regarding retirement saving. The most common response? Start saving early in order to help you reach your goals.

Find out if you’re on track for a comfortable retirement by taking our 5-minute online retirement assessment.

If you ever have questions about your retirement, we’re here to help. Cambrian’s team of expert advisors have years of experience in helping our members plan and save for retirement while they’re working, and assist with planning and managing retirement income once it’s time to leave the workforce. To meet with one of our advisors, just call your local branch to schedule an appointment.