Men in a relationship are twice as likely to consider themselves the key decision maker compared to their partner.

Is the man or the woman of the household the lead decision-maker on retirement planning issues? Among most Canadian couples, there is little consensus on this question, according to the Fourth Annual Valentine’s Day RRSP Study from BMO Financial Group.

The report indicates that 87 percent of those who are married or in a serious relationship have had a discussion with their partner about retirement. But just a quarter of the couples have had a detailed discussion. And fewer than half have covered key topics such as how they envision their ideal retirement or how they expect to achieve their retirement goals.

When asked who is the key decision-maker in the relationship, the study finds that men in a relationship are twice as likely to consider themselves the key decision maker compared to their partner (41 percent think they are the boss, 15 percent think their partner is the boss). But women are also more likely to consider themselves the key decision maker compared to their partner (32 percent think they are the boss, 19 percent think their partner is the boss).

The same holds true when asked who is more focused on saving for retirement:

  • Men in a relationship are twice as likely to consider themselves more focused on saving compared to their partner (42 percent think they are more focused, 19 percent think their partner is more focused);
  • Women are also twice as likely to consider themselves to be more focused on saving compared to their partner (44 percent think they are more focused, 21 percent think their partner is more focused).

“Our study has revealed that there’s a clear disconnect with regards to who’s taking the lead on retirement-related issues among Canadian couples,” says Chris Buttigieg, senior manager, wealth planning strategy, BMO Financial Group. “If both partners in a relationship feel they’re calling the shots and they have different views, then there’s going to be conflict at some point down the road.

It’s critical to communicate, be open to compromise and be prepared to talk frankly about financial issues, including your plans for retirement and how they’ll be funded,” he adds.

The BMO study also reveals discloses these findings:

  • Men in a relationship are twice as likely to point a finger at their partner for spending too much money instead of saving for retirement (37 percent blame their partner, 23 percent take ownership of the issue). Men are also twice as likely to blame their partner for not taking saving for retirement seriously (35 percent blame their partner, 18 percent take ownership);
  • Women in a relationship are also more likely to accuse their partner for spending too much money instead of saving for retirement (36 percent blame their partner, 25 percent take ownership). Women are also twice as likely to blame their partner for not taking saving for retirement seriously (39 percent blame their partner, 21 percent take ownership).

The study also examined what Canadians think are the top reasons which could cause a couple to divorce; 68 percent identified conflict over finances, ahead of infidelity (60 percent) and disagreements about family (36 percent).