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REPEAT-BMO Annual Financial Literacy Report Card: 91 per cent of Canadians Give Themselves a Passing Grade


Majority of Canadians confident in their knowledge of RRSPs, TFSAs, GICs; however confidence level down from 2012


Majority of Canadians confident in their knowledge of RRSPs, TFSAs, GICs; however confidence level down from 2012

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Nov. 2, 2013) - Heading into Financial Literacy Month, BMO Financial Group has released its third annual BMO Financial Literacy Report Card which gauges the personal finance knowledge and understanding of Canadians.

The majority of Canadians (91 per cent) give themselves a passing grade for their level of financial literacy. That's down slightly from 2012 (93 per cent), and up from 2011 (89 per cent).

For a breakdown of how Canadians graded themselves, this year's report revealed:

Financial Literacy Grade 2013   2012  
A 10 % 10 %
B 35 % 41 %
C 35 % 33 %
D 11 % 9 %
F 4 % 3 %

"Financial literacy is an issue that affects Canadians of all ages, and continuing to put programs in place to support the improvement of these skills will contribute greatly to the well-being of families, as well as the overall economy," said L. Jacques Ménard, Chairman of BMO Nesbitt Burns and Financial Literacy Task Force Vice-Chair. "In order to achieve this, it needs to remain a focus for all stakeholders involved to ensure Canadians at large gain the knowledge, skills and confidence to make responsible financial decisions at all stages of their lives."

Mr. Ménard added that BMO strongly supports the efforts and recommendations put forth by the federal government, including the Task Force on Financial Literacy and the adoption of the Financial Literacy Leader Act in March 2013.

The report, conducted by Pollara, also revealed how confident Canadians are in their knowledge of various financial terms compared to a year ago. As in 2012, Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) and Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) are the types of investments with which Canadians are most familiar, although the numbers have decreased slightly:

  • Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) - 77 per cent; down from 79 per cent
  • Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) - 67 per cent; down from 72 per cent
  • Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) - 59 per cent; down from 62 per cent

Meanwhile, Canadians continue to feel least knowledgeable about:

  • Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) - 24 per cent
  • Dividend Reinvestment Plan (DRIP) - 24 per cent
  • Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) - 22 per cent

Financial Literacy Quiz Scores Slipping Slightly

According to the report, many Canadians may have a false sense of confidence in their level of financial knowledge. As part of the report card, Canadians were quizzed on three questions related to common financial concepts. The report revealed:

  • Nearly one-third (31 per cent) of those who give themselves an "A" were not able to answer more than half of the questions correctly. 
  • Moreover, while Canadians say they are most familiar with RRSPs, 66 per cent correctly answered that you only pay taxes on RRSP investments when they are withdrawn - down from 80 per cent in 2012.
  • Fewer than half (48 per cent) understand the benefits of compounded interest, down from 57 per cent last year.
  • Younger Canadians have more trouble with these questions, with only 39 per cent of those under 35 passing the test.

"The numbers show that there remains a need for programs that will help to build or improve upon the fundamental financial knowledge and skill sets of Canadians of all ages," said Gary Rabbior, President, Canadian Foundation for Economic Education (CFEE).

Mr. Rabbior added that CFEE, in partnership with BMO, launched the Talk With Our Kids About Money program last year. The initiative - designed to help families, students and teachers learn more about money and personal finances - includes a home program that provides families with online access to ideas, activities, stories, resources, tools, videos, and more to begin - or continue - money-related conversations at home. Support resources are organized by age range and focus on activities that are fun, engaging and educational.

For more on the Talk With Our Kids About Money program, please visit Canadians can also visit the Government of Canada's Financial Literacy Month website, as well as BMO's Financial Literacy online resource.

Regional and Demographic Breakdown

Category Overall   Atlantic   Quebec   Ontario   Prairies   Alberta   B.C.  
Give self "A" or "B" 45 % 38 % 39 % 50 % 41 % 58 % 43 %
Knowledge of RRSPs 77 % 66 % 75 % 80 % 72 % 83 % 77 %
Knowledge of TFSAs 67 % 54 % 57 % 72 % 61 % 73 % 73 %
Knowledge of GICs 59 % 50 % 48 % 66 % 54 % 68 % 60 %
Category Overall   Men   Women   18-34   35-44   45-54   55-64   65+  
Give self "A" or "B" 45 % 51 % 41 % 45 % 41 % 43 % 47 % 55 %
Knowledge of RRSPs 77 % 79 % 75 % 68 % 75 % 78 % 80 % 89 %
Knowledge of TFSAs 67 % 66 % 67 % 68 % 63 % 58 % 66 % 76 %
Knowledge of GICs 59 % 62 % 57 % 52 % 55 % 56 % 63 % 77 %

The survey was conducted by Pollara between October 11th and October 16th, 2013 with an online sample of 1,215 Canadians. The margin of error for a probability sample of this size is ± 2.8%, 19 times out of 20.

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly-diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $549 billion as at July 31, 2013, and more than 46,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.

Media Contacts:
Matt Duffin, Toronto
(416) 867-3996
[email protected]

Valerie Doucet, Montreal
(514) 877-8224
[email protected]

Laurie Grant, Vancouver
(604) 665-7596
[email protected]

Twitter: @BMOmedia

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