Canadian parents could use some help with teaching their children about money, and this presents an opportunity for advisors to reach out to clients with kids.

Parents usually know best, but when it comes to setting a good financial example for their kids, a quarter of Canadian parents give themselves a ‘C’.

A new survey from ING Direct revealed that while 92% of Canadian parents believe they should be responsible for teaching their kids about money, 61% feel they could be doing more to educate their kids about the basics of saving and spending.

The online study, conducted in April 2012, surveyed parents across the country about educating their children on financial matters. An overwhelming 98% of parents polled feel it’s important to have conversations with their kids about money-related topics, but 28% say it’s not a priority at this time.

A third of parents surveyed say 7-9 is an appropriate age to start talking dollars and cents, while another third feel 4-6 years is the right age to begin discussions about money.

Many parents take advantage of everyday situations — like shopping (53%), planning a vacation (35%), making a major purchase (34%) or paying bills (22%) — as opportunities to talk to their kids about money.

Interestingly, when asked about their comfort levels with talking to their kids about various topics, those parents surveyed said they find it easier to talk about bullying (91%) and smoking/drugs (86%) than they do discussing family finances (77%).

“Canadian parents know the importance of teaching their kids good money habits, and while they agree the onus falls on them, many still feel unprepared to address issues like setting monetary goals, spending smartly, investing and using credit cards,” says Brenda Rideout, chief marketing and innovation officer, ING Direct.

“Having conversations with kids about money is important, and parents should feel confident enough to do so. Providing fun, interactive resources to guide parents and kids in this discussion is one way we hope to enrich the learning experience about money matters, and help nurture a new generation of financial role models.”

What can parents do?

In addition to their own life experiences and websites with tools and tips, 72% of parents consider online educational games useful in helping teach kids about personal finance.

“Online sources to teach kids about money are great because they speak the language of today’s younger generation,” says Robin Taub, Chartered Accountant and author of “A Parent’s Guide to Raising Money-Smart Kids.” “ING DIRECT’s Lil’ Savers Moneyland is a fun way for kids to learn about creating a budget, setting savings goals, investing and giving to charity.”

Taub added that kids who are taught about money management at home, and at an early age, feel more optimistic and confident about their financial futures, as well as feeling better prepared for major financial decisions they’ll face in the future. is an interactive site that takes kids through fun activities and games that teach them all about money – how to “grow it, save it, spend it, and share it”. It offers lessons for kids, as well as a very easy-to-follow parent interface to help create an experience for the whole family.

The online survey was conducted from April 5 to 10 among a sample of 1,001 Canadian parents who are also Angus Reid Forum panel members. The margin of error — which measures sampling variability — is +/- 3.10%, 19 times out of 20.