February 16, 2022

Pattie Lovett-Reid: How financially literate are you? Can you answer these 3 questions?

In a recent survey by J.D. Power, they challenged Canadians to a financial knowledge assessment and began by asking these three questions:

1) Suppose you had $100 in a savings account and the interest rate was 2% per year. After 5 years, how much do you think you would have in the account if you left the money to grow?

2) Imagine that the interest rate on your savings account was 1% per year and inflation was 2% per year. After 1 year, how much would you be able to buy with the money in this account?

3) Please tell me whether this statement is true or false: “Buying a single company’s stock usually provides a safer return than a stock mutual fund.”

(Don’t peak. The answers are at the bottom.)

The point is, only 42% of those surveyed answered all three financial literacy questions correctly.

Here is what they also found — financial health and education do not equate to higher financial literacy.

If you had difficulty answering these questions, you aren’t alone. Only 60% of bank customers with advanced degrees answered these three basic assessment questions correctly.

While your financial literacy may not be as high as you hoped, it doesn’t mean you are a financial disaster.

The survey also found:

  • 39% were considered to be healthy customers who found a balance between covering immediate financial needs and ensuring future finances are secure, leaving them with a solid sense of overall financial security.
  • 12% were overextended and struggled to cover immediate basic financial needs, but understood the importance of savings and even have a future financial plan. This leaves them a little nervous about borrowing from tomorrow to pay for today.
  • 13% were stressed, but manage to pay their bills and have a sense of basic security. They struggle, though, with long-term savings and planning.
  • 36% were vulnerable as they struggled to meet basic needs, like paying bills, while not being able to think about the future.

The J.D. Power report highlights banks could increase their levels of customer satisfaction by simply getting back to basics. When people feel they have the knowledge and power to improve their financial situation, it is liberating. They feel empowered and capable.

The financial institution that embraces financial education, even by way of digital tools, will likely win the bigger share of people’s wallets.

Bottom line: The J.D. Power 2021 Canada Retail Banking Advice Satisfaction Study found that 74% of customers who receive advice from their banks act on it. That’s important because just 39% of Canadian retail bank customers are financially healthy. Moreover, only 42% passed a basic financial literacy test.


1) More than $102

2) Less than today

3) False

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