Canada Markets close in 1 hr 40 mins

Canadians prefer fun over finances when online

Ashleigh Patterson

Finding the right mutual fund is not easy, but roughly half of Canadians who own them say they'd rather spend more time planning luxuries like tech gadgets instead of researching investments.

Canadians spend 3.4 hours a year planning their mutual fund investments, a survey published this week by ING Direct shows.

By comparison, Canadians spend 5 hours planning a major technology purchase such as a smartphone, television or computer, and 6.6 hours on the Internet planning a vacation. They spend the most annually researching a car purchase or lease at 9.2 hours.

"It's more exciting isn't it? said Silvio Stroescu, head of mutual funds at ING Direct.

"The findings are not surprising to us, but I think it's just a little bit discouraging because if you look at the benefits to Canadians of taking a little more time to do some research on what you're investing in, those far outweigh the benefit of buying a car or buying a smartphone."

Stroescu says 73 per cent of mutual fund investors turn to a banker or financial advisor when looking for advice in choosing mutual funds, while 7 per cent turn to family. A small percent turn to friends and media for investing tips.

The key reasons behind the reluctance to get educated include lack of time, having too many choices or feeling overwhelmed by the investment process, says the survey, which was conducted online in December on 1,008 people.

Last fall, the Canadian Securities Administrators, the umbrella group representing the country's 13 provincial and territorial securities regulators, said that 40 per cent of Canadians failed a general investment knowledge test.

The findings were part of a report that was based on a survey of 6,911 people online in May 2012.

"A lot of it has to do with being motivated," said Stroescu.

"We're human, we're built for that instant gratification. If you're doing research for a car you're going to drive, you know you're going to pick up that car next week and you're going to be in that car."

Groups like the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada and the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada offer resources to help Canadians get educated, while banks and other financial institutions offer online tools to help people manage budgets and retirement.