“Canadians are financially squeezed at present and do not feel very optimistic about their finances as they face myriad financial challenges in the form of persistent inflation, high interest rates and tepid economic growth. A majority of consumers would like to manage their finances better as some struggle due to impulsive spending not backed by a sufficient financial cushion.”
– Sanjay Sharma, Senior Financial Services Analyst

This Report looks at the following areas:

  • This Report explores consumers’ personal finances, debt amounts, type of debt owned, personal finance habits, consumer confidence, financial engagement/wellness and general attitudes towards debt and finances.
  • It was written between May 15 and June 14, 2023.

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • Key issues covered in this Report
    • Definitions
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Consumer trends
    • Half of consumers have cut spending due to high inflation
    • Four in five Canadians pay their bills on time
      • Figure 1: Financial habits and attitudes, 2023
    • Competitive strategies
    • Improving the financial health of Canadians
    • Market predictions
      • Figure 2: Outlook for consumer debt and finances, 2023-28
    • Opportunities
    • Discouraging bad debt
    • South Asians are more likely to have a second mortgage
  3. Market Factors

    • Newer Canadians are a major growth market for financial institutions…
      • Figure 3: Distribution of foreign-born population, by region of birth, 1996-2036 (projected)
    • …but they are financially stressed
    • Canada’s inflation rate inches up, while the economy is resilient
      • Figure 4: Changes in Consumer Price Index, 2020-23
    • Canada’s increasing household debt and the latest interest rate hike
    • Housing market is slowly rebounding
    • What does this mean?
  4. Competitive Developments

    • Crypto platform Binance to exit Canada
    • Neo Financial launches new hybrid Neo Money
      • Figure 5: Neo Financial Facebook ad, 2023
    • Borrowell partners with Fig
    • Scotiabank launches new AI-powered investment management tool
    • connectFirst and Servus Credit Unions announce intent to merge
  5. Marketing Campaigns

    • TD Bank conceptualizes the anxiety around home buying
      • Figure 6: Speed up or slow down payments with a flexible TD Mortgage, 2023
    • Tangerine’s “hoops” campaign
      • Figure 7: Tangerine | Jumping Through Hoops, 2023
    • HomeEquity uses a deepfaked Keanu for good
    • CIBC makes hearts for financial conversations
      • Figure 8: Financial Stress Companions: A CIBC Experiment, 2023
  6. Consumer Debt and Finances – Fast Facts

  7. Debt Overview

    • Two in three Canadians owe less than $100,000
      • Figure 9: Total debt owed, 2023
      • Figure 10: Total debt owed, by age, 2023
  8. Secured Debt Ownership

    • At least half of Canadians have secured debt
      • Figure 11: Secured debt ownership, 2023
    • 35-54s are understandably the most likely to have a mortgage
      • Figure 12: Home-related secured debt ownership, by age, 2023
      • Figure 13: easyfinancial Facebook ad, 2023
    • Auto loans represent a big piece of secured debt
      • Figure 14: Secured debt ownership (select), by age, 2023
  9. Unsecured Debt Ownership

    • Half of Canadians have unsecured debt
      • Figure 15: Unsecured debt ownership, 2023
    • Ownership of most products declines among over-55s
      • Figure 16: Unsecured debt ownership, by age, 2023
    • Around two in five 18-54s have credit card debt
    • South Asians are more likely to have personal loans
    • One in 10 Canadians have an unsecured line of credit balance
      • Figure 17: Scotiabank line of credit email (portion), 2023
    • Growing student debt is a concern
    • Men and 18-54s more likely to have investment loans
    • Newer Canadians are more likely to have an instalment loan
      • Figure 18: Affirm Canada Facebook ad, 2022
    • Financially vulnerable Canadians have more unsecured debt
      • Figure 19: Unsecured debt ownership (select), by current financial situation, 2023
    • Some types of unsecured debt can be dangerous
  10. Attitudes towards Debt

    • Most consumers would prioritize paying off debt over saving
      • Figure 20: I would prioritize paying off debt over saving (% agree), by age, 2023
    • Over-55s less likely to have credit card debt due to spending
      • Figure 21: Attitudes towards credit card debt (% agree), by age, 2023
    • Debt has impacted the relationships of two in five 18-34 year olds
      • Figure 22: The amount of debt I have has negatively impacted my personal relationships (% agree), by age, 2023
      • Figure 23: CIBC desktop display ad, 2023
  11. Personal Finances

    • Half of consumers have cut spending due to high inflation
      • Figure 24: I have cut spending due to high inflation, by current financial situation, 2023
    • Women and younger consumers are more likely to have cut spending due to high inflation
      • Figure 25: I have cut spending due to high inflation, by age and gender, 2023
      • Figure 26: CIBC Facebook ad, 2023
    • Improving the financial health of Canadians
      • Figure 27: I have more than $5,000 in savings for an emergency, by age, 2023
    • Concerns about being unable to afford a home are real
      • Figure 28: I am concerned that I will be unable to afford to buy a home, by age, 2023
    • Retirement concerns and automatic savings programs
      • Figure 29: Retirement income and automatic savings, by age, 2023
      • Figure 30: RBC Facebook ad, 2023
    • ATM fees
  12. Consumer Confidence

    • Consumer confidence is middling
      • Figure 31: Consumer confidence-related attitudes and behaviours, 2023
    • Older Canadians are better placed financially
      • Figure 32: Consumer confidence-related attitudes and behaviours, by age, 2023
      • Figure 33: RBC Wealth Management Facebook ad, 2023
    • Three in 10 employed Canadians living from paycheque to paycheque
    • Older consumers are less likely to struggle with their mortgage payments
    • Over-55s more likely to have overdraft protection
    • Women feel less in control of their finances
      • Figure 34: Consumer confidence-related attitudes and behaviours, by gender, 2023
  13. Financial Habits

    • Four in five Canadians pay their bills on time
      • Figure 35: Financial habits and attitudes, 2023
    • Over-55s generally have sounder financial habits
      • Figure 36: Financial habits and attitudes, by age, 2023
      • Figure 37: Capital One Canada Facebook ad, 2023
    • Younger consumers are least likely to contribute regularly to retirement savings
      • Figure 38: Stash Instagram post, 2023
  14. Financial Wellness and Engagement

    • Two in three Canadians claim to be knowledgeable about different financial products
      • Figure 39: Attitudes related to financial wellness, 2023
    • Younger Canadians keener on learning how to manage finances better
      • Figure 40: Attitudes related to financial wellness (% agree), by age, 2023
    • Online banks are being used for better value
      • Figure 41: I am using an online bank for better value (% agree), by age and gender, 2023
      • Figure 42: Tangerine Facebook ad, 2023
    • Few Canadians follow the stock market and financial topics on social media
      • Figure 43: Financial engagement-related attitudes and behaviours (% agree), 2023
      • Figure 44: Invstr Instagram post, 2022
    • Younger men more likely to follow financial topics on social media
      • Figure 45: I follow financial topics on social media (% agree), by age and gender, 2023
    • Most Canadians do not agree that managing finances is a chore
      • Figure 46: Financial engagement-related attitudes and behaviours, (% agree), by age and gender, 2023
    • 18-34s more likely to use personal finance apps
      • Figure 47: YNAB Instagram post, 2022
      • Figure 48: Scotiabank Facebook ad, 2023
  15. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Consumer survey data
    • Consumer qualitative research
    • Abbreviations and terms

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