How to stay on top of your financial planning with a demanding career

At a glance

  • As professionals in accountancy or law, you might already be confident in your understanding of financial affairs and feel that spending time and money working with an adviser isn’t necessary. However, there are still great benefits to this, particularly for a high-earning professional.
  • For time-poor associates and partners in a major firm, a dedicated financial adviser can lift the load, creating and implementing a financial plan on your behalf that you may be too busy to do yourself.
  • Cash-flow modelling is a valuable service that an expert financial adviser can offer, to help you understand what you want your retirement to look like and how much you’ll need to make those goals a reality.

If you’re a lawyer or accountant, your work may overlap with the world of financial services, meaning you’d be justified in feeling confident in your understanding of important money matters.

So, you might wonder whether spending your valuable time talking to a financial adviser is worth it, particularly if you have a job that’s demanding and time consuming.

Flip the argument over, however, and you have some very good reasons why you might benefit from taking advice, especially if you’re at the higher end of the income scale.

Taking the strain

Anyone with a challenging job knows how hard it can be to stay on top of things at home as well as at work. Keeping track of your finances and ensuring your money works as hard as possible can be tricky when there are other matters to think about. However, there’s no need to try and keep that extra plate spinning when you can delegate it to a specialist.

Lawyers and accountants can be very time poor, which often means personal life administration gets left at the bottom of the pile. They’re often too busy with their day job to put a strategy in place.

This is especially the case for business owners, who often have very little distinction between personal and business planning.

Someone in their mid-40s for example may have significant demands on their time and income, and they’re focused on work, family and sometimes ageing parents too, with no time for their own planning.

Those short-term challenges can make it difficult to take a step back, look at the big picture and plan for the life ahead. A financial adviser will help them understand what’s important to them and what good looks like in terms of when they can slow down later on.

The part where an adviser will ask them to invest their time is in working with them to understand what their financial freedom looks like. It’s about helping them see a way through, so they have options.

Once you’ve worked with an adviser to build a picture of what you have and where you want to go, they can be left to get on with a lot of the job on your behalf.

Making it work harder

Advice can add particular value for high earners when it comes to pensions – a frequently complex area where the rules have a habit of changing on a regular basis. While long-term financial plans are often built on the foundation of tax wrappers such as pensions and ISAs, it’s easy to miss out on the tax reliefs and allowances that can make such a big difference in the long run.

For equity partners, for example, the difference to their tax liability from maximising their pension contributions can add up to huge savings. These allowances are there to use, but people often haven’t had the time to look at what they can do.

Most advisers now use cash-flow modelling software to help clients visualise how their financial future might be mapped out under different scenarios and understand the impact that their choices may have.

When they go along to do reviews and talk about increased contributions, for example, they can show the impact very quickly and the difference it would make to their plan.

The bigger picture

Financial advice and planning isn’t just about money. It encompasses much more than that – hopes and fears, lifestyle and ambitions, security and peace of mind. In that sense, financial advice isn’t so much the vehicle as the roadmap, helping someone get to where they want to go in life.

So, investing a bit of time and money in financial advice can play the same role for your financial wellbeing as exercise and a good diet can for your physical health.

It’s about more than numbers – it’s someone’s life. A financial adviser will ask people a lot of questions to get them thinking about things they haven’t thought about before. Any plan they put in place has to be sustainable and fit around their life.

Let’s use the example of a client who has reached their mid-40s and begun to worry about the longer term and how prepared they are financially. They might have three or four different pension policies and know they should do something about planning for later life, but never get around to it. This can be stressful, and they’re not aware of what they’ve got.

An adviser can help them take control while also liaising with other professionals – such as a client’s accountant or solicitor – to ensure they benefit from a joined-up approach.

Once an adviser has spent time with you as a person, they can get on with the work of putting everything in order, so that you can carry on doing what you’re good at.

The value of an investment with St. James’s Place will be directly linked to the performance of the funds you select and the value can therefore go down as well as up. You may get back less than you invested.

The levels and bases of taxation, and reliefs from taxation, can change at any time and are generally dependent on individual circumstances.

SJP Approved 18/06/2024