By Cary List, CA, CPA, CFP
President and CEO of the Financial Planning Standards Council
Canadians are losing sleep over money – and they are lying about it. A new national study, conducted by Leger, The Research Intelligence Group on behalf of the Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC), reveals these and other startling findings about the role financial stress can play in the lives of Canadians.
According to the study, Canadians struggle with regret over financial decisions, argue over spending, feel pressure to keep up with friends or colleagues, and bend the truth to friends and family about their financial situation in order to save face. In many cases, the primary response to financial stress is denial.
It’s time we talked about it. Putting off difficult conversations about finances isn’t just a harmless form of procrastination; it can actually affect our mental and physical well-being and the quality of our lives. The longer we stay silent about challenging financial situations, the bigger money challenges can become.
Our national sheepishness about discussing money issues is rampant from coast to coast. Because so many of us shy away from talking about our finances in an honest way, we fail to realize how many others have similar worries and concerns. So we carry our financial burdens in silence. In fact, more than three-quarters of Canadians report having financial regrets, many of which stem from not having created a financial plan earlier in their lives.
Developing a plan
Interested in the connection between health and personal finances, FPSC, in partnership with the Financial Planning Foundation, commissioned a longitudinal study spanning three years and including close to 15,000 Canadians from all socio-economic backgrounds. This comprehensive study, entitled the Value of Financial Planning, clearly reveals that Canadians with a financial plan in place, prepared in conjunction with a qualified professional financial planner, are better able to stop worrying about money and start enjoying the experiences it provides. In fact, Canadians who engage in comprehensive financial planning report significantly higher levels of financial and emotional well-being than those who do no planning or only limited planning.
The study showed that those with comprehensive financial plans feel:
- More on track with their financial goals and retirement plans;
- Their ability to save is vastly improved;
- More confident that they can deal with financial challenges in life; and
- Better able to indulge in their personal spending goals.
The truth is, financial well-being requires knowledge and careful planning. Few of us would be embarrassed if we didn’t know how to treat a disease, repair a car engine or rewire our homes. Yet for some reason, we feel inadequate if we don’t have expert knowledge in personal finance. Just as we would turn to a doctor, a mechanic or an electrician for their specialized expertise, we need to consult a qualified professional to guide us through the financial planning process.
An expert professional qualified as a financial planner will look at your entire financial situation and understand how each area affects the next – from investment choices to income tax issues to insurance to retirement planning – helping you build a successful financial future based on a solid foundation. A comprehensive financial plan takes into account all aspects of your finances, balancing what you need and want today with the personal goals and requirements you have for the future.
Finding a trusted financial planner
An appropriately qualified financial planner, such as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional, meets stringent proficiency and ethics requirements, including high levels of education and experience, and has a written obligation to put their clients’ interests ahead of their own. These certified professionals can point you in the right direction and relieve you of the burden of trying to figure out how to achieve your goals on your own.
It’s time we recognize financial planning as an important element to an overall wellness strategy for all Canadians. So let’s talk about it, openly and honestly. It could be just the cure Canadians need.
To find a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER professional in your area that will help guide you financially, use our Find Your Planner tool.
For more on calming financial stress and getting started with the right planner, read 5 tips to fight anxiety about money, How financial stress can affect your life and health and 10 questions to ask your planner.
Cary List is President and CEO of the Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC), a not-for-profit standards-setting and certification body that develops, promotes and enforces professional financial planning standards through CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® certification.
42% of Canadians (excluding Quebecers) ranked ‘money’ as their greatest stress
Women are significantly more likely to lose sleep over financial worries than men (51% vs. 40%)
Couples that share details about their personal finances argue significantly less about money than those who are less transparent (58% vs. 30%)
Leading sources of financial disagreement within relationships: spending habits (58%); lifestyle decisions (54%); managing debt (34%); saving for the future/retirement (17%); investment choices (13%)
Canadians with comprehensive financial plans reported higher levels of well-being and contentment than those without a plan:
- financial well-being (85%);
- emotional well-being (62%);
- overall contentment (45%).
Principles of CFP Profession Code of Ethics:
- Put Client Interests First
- Act With Integrity
- Be Objective
- Maintain Competence
- Be Fair & Open
- Maintain Confidentiality
- Act Diligently
- Be Professional
For a full description of the Code, visit www.fpsc.ca