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Financial wellness is a result of more than the size of your client’s paycheque.

“High income does not guarantee financial comfort,” said a research paper released Monday from the Canadian Payroll Association and the Western-Laurier Financial Data Analytics Laboratory.

In fact, it found that 20% of working Canadians with a household income of at least $150,000 are financially stressed. (Based on an analysis of responses, survey respondents were categorized as financially stressed, financially comfortable or financially coping.)

And, while the research also found that 50% of those who are financially stressed are over age 40, neither income nor age — nor geography — were key characteristics affecting financial stress.

What most affected financial stress was respondents’ ability to deal with brief financial setbacks — like missing a paycheque — and their savings habits.

For example, those who were financially stressed found it difficult to manage a brief financial setback, had saved little to no money and had an increasing debt load.

“[W]hen we spend beyond our means, financial stress follows,” said Peter Tzanetakis, president of the Canadian Payroll Association, in a release.

Those who were financially stressed also placed greater emphasis on salary than on work-life balance.

In contrast, those who were financially comfortable could manage a missed paycheque, had saved money and prioritized work-life balance over salary.

Those categorized as “financially coping” fell between these two groups.

The research paper said that a “surprising” finding was that respondents’ willingness to seek paid financial advice didn’t result in any variation among the three categories. Other research has found that such a willingness is an important component of financial well-being, the paper said.

About the research: The Western-Laurier Lab used 11 years of Canadian Payroll Association National Payroll Week Survey data, totalling more than 35,000 responses. The data were analyzed using an algorithm-based methodology, known as cluster analysis, to arrange respondents into distinct groups based on their similarities to one another and differences from all other groups.