Shot of a stressed businesswoman sitting on the floor outside the boardroom

Money remains the greatest source of stress for Canadians amid the pandemic, according to new research that also shows most Canadians don’t work with advisors.

On Wednesday, FP Canada published its latest financial stress survey, a followup report to studies from 2014 to 2018.

Consistent with previous years, money was the number one cause of stress for respondents — by a large margin.

More than one-third of respondents (38%) cited money as their greatest cause of stress, which outranked personal health (25%), work (21%) and relationships (16%).

The finding is particularly significant given the multitude of non-financial stresses related to the Covid-19 pandemic, FP Canada said in a release.

Four in 10 respondents said the pandemic had affected their financial stress levels, with 11% saying the stress effects were significant.

In some instances, differences in income levels didn’t mean a greater proportion of respondents experiencing financial stress. However, about half of those earning less then $40K ranked money as their biggest stressor.

The fallout from money stress spilled into other areas of respondents’ lives, such as their health (cited by 18% of respondents), relationships (15%) and work productivity (14%).

Compared to those who cited money as their top stress, an equal proportion (38%) said financial stress doesn’t affect their lives at all. Those with a financial planner were more likely to say their lives weren’t affected by financial stress (53%).

In the survey, financial planners included those with the designations of Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Qualified Associate Financial Planner (QAFP).

Paying down debt was cited by 38% of respondents as a way to reduce financial stress, while saving more (36%), establishing emergency savings (32%), creating a budget (25%), and building a financial plan (20%) were also popular responses.

The majority of respondents (78%) have taken at least one step to reduce their financial stress. These included tracking expenses (35%), paying down debt (34%) and saving more (32%).

Respondents also revealed their biggest financial regrets. Four in 10 (42%) would have saved more and earlier. One-third (34%) said they would have invested more/earlier/more wisely.

Few Canadians work with advisors

Getting professional help could help Canadians avoid financial regrets and stress.

However, the survey found that only about one-third of respondents worked with financial professionals (34%). Most respondents (60%) didn’t.

Nearly one in five respondents worked with an investment advisor (18%), and 14% worked with an insurance agent.

Only 12% worked with a financial planner (a CFP or QAFP).

Those aged 35 and over (relative to those younger) and those in Quebec (relative to the rest of Canada) were more likely to be working with a financial planner.

(Unlike other provinces, Quebec has regulated the title of “financial planner” since 1998.)

Who’s lying awake at night

The survey found that younger Canadians exhibited greater levels of financial stress.

One in four respondents (25%) aged 65 and older listed money as their leading concern, compared to 44% of 18- to 34-year-olds.

Canadians under 35 were also more likely to have lost sleep due to money stress than those over 35 (55% versus 46%).

Women were more likely than men to have lost sleep (54% versus 43%), as were those without planners (50%, versus 38% of those with planners).

Those who said the pandemic had financially impacted them were twice as likely to say they’ve lost sleep.

For full results, read FP Canada’s financial stress survey.

About the survey: An online survey of 1,510 Canadians was completed between May 21 and May 23, 2020, using Leger’s online panel. The margin of error for the survey was +/−2.5%, 19 times out of 20.