AMF Index - Financial awareness up slightly among Quebeckers


Montréal - Quebeckers say they have adopted better financial behaviours. The AMF Index (in French only), which measures the level of financial awareness among Quebeckers, increased from 58.5% in 2012 to 60.1% in 2014. The findings were released as part of the 5th Journée éducation financière [financial education day], which is organized by the Autorité des marchés financiers (the AMF).

The AMF Index highlights the behaviour of Quebeckers in the areas of fraud prevention, retirement planning, investments, personal finances, insurance and relationships with a representative. The survey was conducted by CROP on behalf of the AMF between February 11 and 18 among 1,500 individuals in charge of managing their household/personal finances.

"Helping Quebeckers improve their financial awareness is an essential part of our mission to protect consumers and a major challenge. The information gathered from the Index helps us better target our financial education activities to achieve significantly better results," noted Louis Morisset, the AMF President and CEO. "By supporting consumers who are becoming increasingly responsible in managing their personal finances, our numerous financial education initiatives, in conjunction with those of our partners, are bearing fruit. However, it is important to maintain sustained and concerted awareness efforts because financial education, like many other pursuits, is a long-term process. The AMF has made this a priority," he concluded.

The 2014 AMF Index shows that weaknesses in financial behaviours among Quebeckers are still substantially the same as in 2012, despite a few major improvements. Far too many Quebeckers are still not adopting certain basic financial behaviours related to retirement planning. Less than one Quebecker out of two (46%) has determined whether they have enough savings to retire; only about half of them have taken into account important matters such as inflation (55%) and longer than average life expectancy (54%) in planning for retirement.

The ability of Quebeckers to establish a clear and transparent relationship with their representative is also a challenge. Only about one quarter of Quebeckers who do business with a representative (27%) have asked how he is compensated, and over one third (39%) have never asked about his fees. The AMF will pursue its financial awareness initiatives in a continuing effort to overcome these weaknesses.

The Index also shows that less than half of Québec investors (47%) check whether their representative is authorized to sell the product being offered, something that is simple to do by consulting the register on the AMF website.

Noteworthy progress
Quebeckers improved their behaviour most notably in the areas of credit management and personal finances. Their behaviour toward retirement planning also improved, although this is still a weak area. The survey also confirmed the trend observed in 2012 whereby Quebeckers who have a business relationship with a representative have better financial behaviours: These Quebeckers score an AMF Index of 62% compared with 52.9% for those who do not have a relationship with a representative.

Over half of Quebeckers are financially "knowledgeable"
The AMF Index draws a portrait of three types of consumers of financial products and services (knowledgeable, ambivalent and indifferent) and identifies their main traits.

The proportion of Quebeckers considered "knowledgeable," i.e., those having good knowledge of behaviours that should be adopted and who say they put this into practice, has risen from 50% in 2012 to 55% in 2014. A proportionately higher number of knowledgeable consumers are age 55 and over, retired, married, own their own homes and have a university education.

Consumers with good knowledge of behaviours that should be adopted but who do not regularly apply them, considered "ambivalent," still represent approximately one-third of the individuals surveyed (31% in 2014 v. 30% in 2012). This segment is overrepresented among individuals under age 45, men, persons in the labour force and persons who rent their homes.

"Ambivalent" consumers, who have a vague understanding of good financial behaviours, now represent only 14% of the individuals surveyed, down from 20% in 2012. This segment is overrepresented among women, persons who rent their homes, persons who are not in the labour force and are less educated as well as persons whose annual income is less than $40,000.

The Autorité des marchés financiers (the AMF) is the regulatory and oversight body for Québec's financial sector.

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