By David Agnew
RBC Wealth Management has been supporting people, communities and businesses from coast-to-coast for over 100 years and has weathered market uncertainties and health epidemics such as SARS and H1N1. However, in my 35 years in this industry, I have never experienced a crisis of the magnitude that we are facing today.
COVID-19 has created an unprecedented situation that has forced us to adjust both our daily habits and our long-term plans. For many Canadians, this pandemic has caused tremendous hardship, impacting physical and mental health as well as financial stability. As a firm, we believe we have a responsibility to our clients, employees and communities to be a source of support, strength and stability through these challenging times and afterwards, as we slowly rebuild our economy and social systems.
We are committed to serving high-net-worth individuals, families and businesses and providing investment and wealth planning strategies to respond to the current situation as well as prepare for the future. We are also committed to helping vulnerable members of our society who require additional support and guidance by making philanthropic donations and collaborating with charity partners in the communities where we live and work.
Recently, I had an interesting conversation about the impact of COVID-19 on older persons with Dr. Samir Sinha. Dr. Sinha is the director of health policy research at the National Institute on Ageing (NIA) at Ryerson University, and the director of geriatrics at Sinai Health System and the University Health Network in Toronto. I asked him where he saw the greatest need and what we could do, as a firm, to help. He was quick to identify two areas: financial education and fraud protection for older Canadians.
We have all read in the media about the increased risk of COVID-19 to Canada’s older population. Although 92 percent of older adults live in their own home, 82 percent of Canada’s over 5,000 COVID-19 deaths have been amongst those living in nursing and retirement homes. A stunning case fatality rate of up to 33 percent in these settings hasn’t eased the worry among older Canadians – or among their caregivers and families.
In addition to health worries, the implications of financial downturns can be detrimental to older people who rely on their investments to support them through retirement. Without the necessary time or resources to recover from an economic downturn, the average Canadian without a proper wealth plan may have to curb their spending and scale back their living standards. There are several new government programs available to help families navigate through this challenging time and RBC Wealth Management can help them understand the benefits and create a wealth plan for the more immediate future.
According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, Canadians 60 years of age and above represent 29 per cent of the country’s fraud victims. Sadly, frauds and scams have increased during COVID-19 with a specific focus on older adults. For example, some fraudsters claim they will deliver food to self-isolating older persons if they give them their credit card information first, while other fraudsters will imitate government agencies to defraud older adults.
Recognizing this serious issue for Canadians, RBC Wealth Management is pleased to partner with the National Institute on Ageing, a Ryerson University think tank focused on researching and developing healthcare, financial security and social well-being policy solutions for our ageing population. Through the NIA, we can share our expertise in financial literacy and cyber and fraud security to help organizations educate older people on how to manage their finances, plan for their future and protect themselves and their wealth from fraud.
Canada’s Baby Boomers are contributing to a larger-than-ever aging population, and helping older Canadians better prepare themselves will protect us all. This is an opportunity for communities to come together and support those who live among us whose life experience, wisdom, and accomplishments warrant honour and respect.