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Not all Canadians share the same financial confidence or ease of access to financial services, a survey for FP Canada says. In response, the financial planning organization has established a benchmark to measure the industry’s progress in reaching underserved groups including Indigenous people, women, the LGBTQ+ community and Canadians with disabilities.

On Tuesday, FP Canada published its first Imagine 2030 Benchmark Report, which highlights the survey research on financial well-being and access.

“The results of this benchmark report are eye-opening, and frankly, disconcerting,” said FP Canada president and CEO Tashia Batstone in the report’s opening note.

The survey clearly reveals that not all Canadians experience the same level of confidence or well-being when it comes to their finances, and not all Canadians believe they can access financial services.”

The report measured Canadians’ financial well-being, confidence, access and trust on a score of 0 to 100.

It found that only half feel they can afford professional financial advice (49%) or know what questions to ask (46%). Only one in four (27%) said financial professionals often look like them, and about four in 10 (39%) said they find dealing with financial professionals “intimidating.”

FP Canada will conduct the survey annually to measure progress until 2030.

The report found Indigenous people scored below the national average on all four indices, as did women. New Canadians scored below average on three of the four.

It also found that Indigenous people, the LGBTQ+ community, new Canadians and people with disabilities are more likely to worry about discrimination from financial professionals. This lowers trust and affects perceptions about access.

“With results that show every diverse community represented in the research has less trust than the average Canadian, the impact of this low trust is less ability to access professional help and a lower level of comfort while doing so,” the report said.

That ultimately translates into lower financial well-being and confidence, FP Canada said.

Other reports have found that systemic racism prevents access to financial services. A survey last year found that only 19% of Black entrepreneurs said they trust banks to do what is right for them and their community.

Batstone said the FP Canada benchmark report is a “call to action.”

“When it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion, it’s time for meaningful action in the financial planning profession,” she said.

To that end, FP Canada said it would work with industry firms and offer professional development opportunities focused on diversity, equity and inclusion. It also said it would work with post-secondary institutions to promote financial planning as a career among diverse student populations.

Innovative Research Group conducted the online survey of 4,103 Canadians outside Quebec in September 2021. Online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population. This survey was weighted to ensure a more accurate representation.