Skip navigation

BMO survey finds Canadian women are 16 per cent less confident in retiring compared to men

March 7, 2023 | Customers, Financial inclusion

A special report from the BMO Real Financial Progress Index focusing on women and financial confidence discovered a stark contrast regarding how women and men feel about one of life’s top priorities retirement. The report found that a significantly lower number of women (52 per cent) feel financially confident about retiring at their target age compared to 68 per cent of men. In addition, almost three quarters (73 per cent) of women have no financial plan in place to reach their goals compared to 64 per cent of men with no plan.

Among the women who are not confident in their retirement plans, saving more (32 per cent) was reported as the top action they should take to retire on time, followed by investing (12 per cent), limiting spending (10 per cent) and earning more (9 per cent). Despite this, 74 per cent of women said they feel in control of their finances compared to 84 per cent of men.

In Canada, women on average earn 89 cents for every dollar earned by men according to Statistics Canada[i], affecting the amount of money the average woman can save and invest for retirement. Adding to financial stress among women, BMO’s survey found 87 per cent reported having a fear of unknown expenses and 63 per cent said keeping up with monthly bills causes them anxiety.

“As the cost of inflation and the financial impacts of the pandemic have significantly affected many women, it’s understandable that they are feeling the need to rebuild their savings and feeling less confident about retiring at the age they had planned,” said Gayle Ramsay, Head, Everyday Banking & Customer Growth, BMO. “Financial planning and financial literacy are imperative when navigating finances to ensure customers are making real financial progress. With most women reporting they have no financial plan in place, they can start to alleviate their anxiety and take control of their finances by evaluating their budgets, adjusting spending habits accordingly, and committing to a savings and retirement plan.”

“At BMO we provide a wide range of tools and services that can help customers manage their day-to-day cashflow and establish savings goals that will provide women with the confidence to achieve their financial goals, continued Ms. Ramsay. “Free digital banking tools and apps like Savings GoalsPre-authorized Payment Manager, BMO Insights, and BMO CashTrack help track spending patterns and set financial goals. If customers are looking for more guidance, BMO offers Real Financial Progress Checks – just go into your branch and a banker can discuss your financial goals and give advice based on your individual situation.”

Financial literacy gender gap stems from childhood upbringing

BMO’s survey also found a gap between how women and men report being educated about personal finance from a young age. When asked about whether respondents received family support around financial literacy by having conversations around budgeting or financial planning, 61 per cent of women said they did not receive support compared to 57 per cent of male counterparts.

The report also found the following differences in financial confidence when it comes to gender:

  • Almost three quarters (73 per cent) of women reported not having a written financial plan in place compared to 64 per cent of men
  • More men have a financial advisors (42 per cent) compared to women (37 per cent)
  • Only 17 per cent of women use free digital tools compared to 25 per cent of men

BMO offers the following tips to help Canadians take control of their finances:

  • Be informed about incoming and outgoing money flow and have regular discussions to ensure you are making the financial progress needed to achieve your short, mid, and long-term goals.
  • Establish and build your credit. Take advantage of credit building solutions such as a credit building loan or secure card and monitor your credit report score and activity often.
  • Make a budget or savings plan for large purchases like a car, vacation, or new appliance.
  • When evaluating what you owe, pay down debt with the highest interest rate first.
  • Assess ongoing expenses such as streaming services, cable and internet plans, gym memberships or phone providers and negotiate lower prices when possible or work to reduce or eliminate programs you don’t use often.
  • Speak with a financial advisor to make sure your savings and payment patterns are on track to reach both near- and long-term goals and that you have the right financial tools in your toolbelt to achieve goals.

BMO believes in supporting and championing women by promoting their progress, which is part of its commitment to Zero Barriers to Inclusion for all. As a bank, BMO prioritizes investing, giving and engagement in its local communities, along with creating financial progress for every woman. 

BMO is committed to supporting the advancement of women within the bank and beyond:  

  • In 2022, BMO supported over 130,000 women entrepreneurs across Canada and re-committed $5 billion over five years to Canadian women-owned businesses.
  • As part of BMO’s Zero Barriers to Inclusion 2025 strategy, BMO reached its North American enterprise goal of 40 per cent sustainable gender equity and will continue forward with bold targets for robust representation of women in senior leadership roles across the bank.
  • BMO established customer programs, BMO for Women (CAN) and Women in Business (US), in 2016. The programs focus on gender parity for the bank’s clients, supporting the growth of women-owned businesses and empowering women to feel confident about their finances and their financial futures.
  • BMO EMpower is a series of long-term commitments launched in 2020 to advance inclusive economic recovery in the United States. The bank has pledged $5 billion over five years to address critical barriers faced by minority businesses, communities, and families.

To learn more about how BMO can help customers make financial progress visit and to learn more about how BMO supports women visit,

[i] Pay gap, 1998 to 2021 (

Related Insights