Financial planning questions every legal professional should ask

Keep your money as busy as you are. Aim to make it grow for when you have time to enjoy it.

As a partner, you may not be sure what your annual income will be, which can make managing your money more challenging. We have financial specialists experienced in looking after legal professionals and professional partners. Here are some of their top questions to ask yourself…

How long am I going to practise for?

We understand that the demands of the legal profession can be tough – long hours, high pressure and unpredictable outcomes. Some of our clients thrive in this environment and aim to make hay for as long as the sun shines. They might be senior partners with no immediate plans to wind down. Some choose to step back or sideways into something gentler, or have a defined timeline to retirement.

Try to come up with a financial plan that fits with your life plans. Our sophisticated cash flow planning expertise can help you explore your options and the possible financial outcomes. For example, you might ask, ‘When’s the right time for me to step down as a partner or take on non-executive director roles?’. Many of our clients even ask, ‘How can I support the causes I care about?

What’s on my financial ‘to do’ list when I become a partner?

When you become a partner, you may lose benefits that you had as an employee, like income protection, private medical insurance, life insurance and pension contributions. You might like to sort out all these things for yourself. Or you might prefer to ask someone else. We can help here.

Am I maximising my money?

We find that our legal professional clients often earn well until they’re about 60. Then it can be time to move on. If you’re 35, you could have only about 25 years to make the bulk of your money. We suggest you invest wisely for the future and make the most of all the tax-efficient opportunities currently available.

The sooner you start investing, the more benefit you can get. Your money will have more time to grow, enjoying the effects of compounding. Make the most of the additional rate tax relief options that are available. Tax-efficient investment vehicles like pensions, Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) and Junior ISAs can help make sure you don’t pay more tax than you need to.

Can I afford my lifestyle?

A fabulous house, top private schools and exotic holidays can eat up even substantial earnings. With rising interest rates, your £20,000 annual mortgage payments could jump to £60,000. School fees continue to increase, with some private school fees soaring above £50,000 a year.1 Meanwhile, some who moved to the country during lockdown underestimated just how expensive rural life can be. Heating, fuel, repairing the roof – the bills can be eyewatering. And those with domestic staff are finding that the cost-of-living crisis is pushing their employees to ask for more pay. 

We are also aware that billing and profit-share levels have fallen in some legal firms. So, profits are down, and prices are up. You could be under enormous financial pressure that you didn’t anticipate.

We’re seeing more stretched and stressed clients than ever before, looking for advice and solutions. They’re not talking about it with their colleagues, but with our help they’re facing up to changing circumstances and reorganising their finances to help them sleep at night.

Am I dealing with my debt?

Paying off your debt should always be your first financial priority. Legal professionals tend to spend a significant proportion of their wealth on houses and mortgages, as they don’t have time to spend it on much else. With growing mortgage burdens, if your home is your castle, it can be a worrying time. There’s been a drive in the mortgage world for fixed-rate terms to be shorter, and this is coming back to haunt many.

We help our clients to gauge the level of debt they can afford over the long term and encourage them to pay it off as soon as possible.

Do I feel pressure to ‘keep up with the Joneses

The Joneses have always been doing well, but these days they’re endlessly popping up on Instagram to remind you.

It can be wonderful to live in luxury, but is it really what’s most important? Will you even enjoy it if it’s creating financial anxiety? Maybe you could trim the trimmings and spend more time with the family feeling more relaxed instead?

Success in legal and professional life covers a broad spectrum of incomes. Prioritise what’s really important to you and don’t worry about what those Joneses are getting up to.

Am I doing enough to prepare for retirement?

Your high-earning years could be quite short, your lifestyle could be expensive, and perhaps you’re incredibly busy. We find that this combination of factors can put legal professionals at risk of being underprepared for retirement.

Life expectancy in the UK has increased over the last 40 years,2 and as legal careers often wind down early, your retirement could be longer than most. See our previous question on maximising your money. Start early and take every tax-saving opportunity you can.

Make sure you’ve factored in realistic costs for the kind of lifestyle you’d like and can potentially afford. Don’t forget to consider rising care costs. We have some clients paying in excess of £2,000 per week for care.

Having a decent retirement fund is going to change the shape of your future. Make sure your potentially long retirement is one you’re going to really enjoy. You deserve it.

Should I do this myself?

You definitely have the intellect, but managing money also takes a high level of application. Spend your time doing what you do best. It makes sense to bring in the professionals who, like you, are living and breathing what they do.

Wealth managers don’t expect you to have any financial knowledge at all. We’ll be focused on helping make your goals happen so you can concentrate on what is important to you. The best thing financial advisers and investment managers can give you is peace of mind. You’ve made the money, so make the most of it. Prioritise your family and future happiness, and don’t be afraid to seek help.

If you’re a legal professional or partner looking for help from a financial professional, get in touch for a free, impartial conversation.

Contact us

0203 418 0257


The Telegraph – Private school fees soar above £50,000 a year

2 Office for National Statistics – National life tables – life expectancy in the UK: 2018 to 2020


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