Scotiabank 2021 Retail Investor Sentiment Report:
Canadian Investors Optimistic but Cautious

2020 was a year of surprises. The economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic affected Canadians in a myriad of ways and prompted many to reassess their personal finances in a way like never before.

While many parts of the country are dealing with continued lockdown measures, there is a hope that this is the beginning of the end for the pandemic. As vaccinations rollout, Scotiabank Economics expect acceleration of Canada’s economy.

The Scotiabank 2021 Retail Investor Sentiment Survey revealed that 55% of Canadian investors are feeling optimistic about their financial future. But despite the optimism, many remain cautious about their financial futures. For Canadians thinking of retiring, 72% report feeling worried they are not saving enough for retirement, one third (32%) say they won’t be able to retire when they had planned because of the pandemic, and 28% report they won’t be able to pay off their debt before retirement.

1 in 3 Canadians plan to contribute to an RSP before the 2020 tax year contribution deadline (32%). However, more than half of Canadians (56%) won’t be contributing and 12% are unsure. 47% of Canadians state they plan to contribute to a TFSA this year.

Canadians are cautiously optimistic about their investments as well. 67% still see an opportunity in the current market environment and one in five Canadian investors (20%) report feeling increased confidence in the financial markets since the COVID-19 vaccine approval. However, while the pandemic has been a global reality for almost a year, most Canadians (70%) admit it’s hard to know what to do when it comes to their investments in this current environment, while 33% of Canadians investors say they are holding off on investing entirely right now due to the uncertainty they feel caused by the pandemic, according to the Scotiabank Survey.


Men (62%) are feeling more optimistic about their financial futures than more women (48%). Younger Canadians (18-34-years) are the most optimistic (68%).

Managing your financial future

As Canadians continue to deal with the financial implications of COVID-19, it’s understandable they feel unsure about how to approach their investments. But there are key steps Canadian investors can follow to help manage the uncertainty they feel and help their financial future stay on track. 


  • Identify your goals. 
    Are you saving for retirement, your kids’ education, a big purchase? Having clear goals will help determine the right investment plan for you.

  • Seek financial advice and develop a plan. Your advisor will discuss your goals, risk tolerance, investment time horizon, investment options, current financial situation and future cash requirements and can develop a plan that’s tailored specially for you. There are also lots of great online tools you can leverage to help guide your investment decisions. Scotia Advice+ Centre is an online hub that provides a comprehensive self-help approach to financial planning, with the option to book an in-person appointment with a Scotia advisor for more personalized, tailored advice.

  • Understand and manage your feelings.
    There are many variables to consider when making investment decisions and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Combine that with the highs and lows of managing financial gains and losses, emotions can get the best of any investor.  However, letting emotions guide investment decisions may lead to missed opportunities and unfavourable outcomes that can lead investors away from their financial goals. Recognizing the emotions that are tied to investing is the first step in managing short-term outcomes and allowing investors to focus on their long-term financial goals instead. An  advisor can help investors ‘keep calm and invest on’ by building a diversified portfolio that is aligned to their risk tolerance, time horizon and financial goals.
55% of Canadians are relying on advice of a financial advisor to help them weather market ups and downs.

The 2021 Scotiabank Retail Investor Sentiment Survey was conducted on behalf of Scotiabank by Maru Blue from January 5 - 6, 2021. The online survey captured the opinions of 1,523 Canadians across the country and results of this study are weighted by education, age, gender and region (and in Quebec, language) to match the population, according to the most recent data.