Canadian HRReporter just put out an article that sums up the Canadian retirement landscape wonderfully.  Lack of personal preparedness, lack of a plan – personal or corporate, unrealistic retirement expectations, and mis-aligned corporate support for employees and employee goals and needs.

Retirement Regret

TD Bank surveyed over 1,100 people and the result was that over three-quarters regret not preparing for retirement earlier.  A growing number of Canadians not only do not have corporate pension plans, but they are increasingly left to their own devices to determine how much they’ll need in retirement and they are not getting the support they need.  And so we retire unprepared and wish we never retired in the first place.

We all know that the time of spending one’s entire career with one firm has ended, and with this nomadic career lifestyle comes the responsibility to take care of oneself.  But our ability to plan for our future is hampered by a lack of education, support and utopian visions of retirement – margaritas on the beach, sailing, golfing – which are implanted in our brains from the retirement commercials the big banks are bombarding us with.

Mis-aligned Purpose

Meanwhile, those companies which do offer pension plans are focusing on funding down-the-road pension plan goals, which is good, but their employees are focusing on how they are going to pay the rent.  If I’m struggling to support my family now, how much time do I spend thinking about how I’m going to support my family in 15 or 20 years?  And so there is a lack of attention paid on retirement planning by employees.

TD’s Jennifer Diplock wisely suggests companies provide resources and programs to support and educate employees about their future retirement.  Help employees understand the realities of retirement (health, inflation, etc.), the true cost of retirement, help them plan for retirement.  Whether the company has a pension plan in place or not, provide support for their workers to help them face a brighter retirement later and less stress now.

But until that day comes when others have our backs, we’re on our own.  It’s up to us individually to educate ourselves on the true nature of retirement, develop a clear and realistic plan, and stick to it.