07/18/2013 01:50 EDT | Updated 09/17/2013 05:12 EDT

Most Canadians wish they'd discussed money before marrying

Most married Canadians regret not discussing their financial situation with their partner before their marriage, according to a survey released today by BMO Wealth Planning Group.

Money is a significant source of friction in many marriages, and different values and interests is the number one cause of divorce cited in Canada.

Yet BMO’s survey found that 43 per cent of married couples said they had different investing styles than their spouses, and that about one-quarter of couples fight over money.

About 98 per cent of married couples think it is important to be on the same page financially as their partner, the study found.

The results are based on an online survey of 1,000 Canadians, conducted by Pollara between May 27 and 28. A probability sample of this size would yield results accurate to ± 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Despite the importance for couples of working out a way to manage money together, most people seem to postpone the conversation about bank balances, credit card debt and spending habits until after they've wed.

Less than half the engaged couples polled had talked about how they would handle money in their marriage.

“While it’s encouraging that many couples recognize the importance of being on the same financial page before they head to the altar, our study clearly shows that many are not having thoughtful discussions around finances before marrying,” Caroline Dabu, head if BMO's wealth planning group, said in a news release.

The topics married people wished they had discussed include:

- Establishing emergency funds for unexpected expenses (28 per cent).

- Identifying personal short- and long-term financial goals (25 per cent).

- How to manage everyday household finances (24 per cent).

- Creating and updating a will (19 per cent).

Dabu recommends that couples develop a budget together and make a financial plan that will help them meet goals such as saving for a home or planning to have a family. Couples need to agree on both short- and long-term goals, and how to manage their money.

One key to that all-important talk about finances is to be honest, BMO said. It’s better to reveal any high-interest debt before marrying than letting it be a surprise after you’ve tied the knot.