The majority (86 per cent) of Canadian women have at least one challenge when it comes to finances and investment, according to a new survey by the Financial Planning Standards Council.
Published to coincide with International Women’s Day, the survey found 38 per cent of respondents admit they know very little about finance and investment. And single women (47 per cent) are more likely than their married counterparts (35 per cent) to admit they know very little about issues related to finance and investment.
The numbers represent a wakeup call and an opportunity for employers to help employees with a better understanding of finance and investment, says Kelley Keehn, a personal finance educator and consumer advocate for the council. She suggests employers take money straight off of employees’ paycheques for group registered retirement savings plans or tax-free savings plans, maximize pension benefits and stock options and offer financial education seminars.
“There’s so much opportunity for employers to engage employees in lunch and learns, education opportunities and opportunities to connect with money groups, just having conversations about whatever is seasonal at that time of the year. It’s those red hot moments,” she says.
“These are people that can be reached right now,” adds Keehn.“They’re there, they’re at work, they have the opportunity to have a positive nudge . . . to take money off of their paycheque to go into an RRSP or a TFSA. They have, oftentimes, an employee pension plan they can contribute to or stock options. They have opportunities that a lot of other people don’t have that they may not be aware of, may not fully understand, may not be taking advantage of.”
The survey also found 34 per cent of respondents have more debt than savings and 19 per cent don’t keep track of their spending. More than half (56 per cent ) don’t have a written financial plan, with that percentage rising to 60 per cent for women aged between 45 and 54.
Keehn refers to another Financial Planning Standards Council survey that cited money as the biggest stressor in a person’s life and one that is often brought into the workplace. “I’ve talked to a lot of organizations that offer the benefits for employees and they talk about how much that stress leave, medications for anxiety . . . traced back to its roots, it’s a money issue, it’s a financial issue.
“There’s just so much opportunity for employers to help their employees be a lot less stressed financially,” she adds.