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Canadians believe they emerged from the recent economic downturn in better shape than their fellow savers around the world when it comes to retirement plans, according to a new survey.

The global poll for HSBC found that only 18 per cent of Canadians feel the 2008-2009 recession had a "direct and significant impact" on their ability to save for retirement, the lowest of all markets tested and well below the international average of 26 per cent.

But the bank cautions that the research indicates Canadians "feel somewhat less prepared for the realities of retirement than their international peers."

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Four out of 10 Canadians polled said they are not confident in their ability to maintain a comfortable retirement, above the global average of 35 per cent.

"The global research suggests that Canadians may not be feeling the tailwinds of the economic downturn on their retirement savings simply because the chill of too much debt and a high cost of living is taking precedence," HSBC Bank Canada executive vice-president and head of retail banking and wealth management Betty Miao said.

Only 24 per cent of Canadians surveyed said they have managed to save more for retirement this past year than in the year before, compared to the global average of 40 per cent.

The majority of those polled in Canada – 52 per cent – said paying off their mortgage or other debts is preventing them from preparing sufficiently for retirement.

And 33 per cent of Canadian respondents said they are less able to put some money away than they were a year ago. That compares with the global average of 27 per cent.

The survey suggests that Canadians are also going against the current when it comes to planning to have retirement income besides government and private pension plans: 39 per cent intend to fund their retirement partly through investment properties, considerably below the global average of 65 per cent.

Canadians are also the least likely to fund their retirement through non-conventional investments such as jewellery, diamonds, gold or classic cars, but specific numbers were not provided.

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The survey reflects the views of more than 16,000 people – 1,000 in Canada – in 15 countries and territories worldwide. The findings are based on an online poll conducted by Ipsos MORI in August and September 2014. The margin of error for a sample of 1,000 respondents is plus or minus 3.1 per cent.

The other countries represented are: Australia, Brazil, France, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, Taiwan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Great Britain, United States.

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