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Consumer Trends Report – Chapter 6: Consumer Assets: Summary

Chapter 6 – Consumer Assets: Summary

The assets of Canadian families have increased over the 1984 to 1999 period, primarily due to gains experienced by wealthier family units. Canadians' homes continue to be their most valuable asset. Some evidence suggests that, as a whole, Canadian renters are in a precarious financial situation. The fastest growing financial asset held by Canadian families over the past two decades has been Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs), due to the rapid increase in their ownership and in overall contributions. This trend involves diverse types of investment vehicles, including mutual funds.

The expansion of investment vehicles has raised many consumer issues, such as the complexity and disclosure of financial information and the added risks associated with equity-based investments.

Research opportunities include the need to know more about the financial situation of homeowners who are using financing options that "withdraw" money from their homes. More detailed analysis of the financial situation of renters would also be useful, given how much they lag homeowners in asset accumulation. Finally, research should continue to investigate potential solutions to, and impacts of, the mismatch between consumers' literacy level and the complex information associated with many financial instruments.

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