Leverage Financial Planning to Bring More Value to a Legal Practice

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Legal and financial issues can sometimes blur. Whether it’s taxation laws, divorce cases or estate planning documents, clients often ask their lawyers for financial advice in addition to standard legal counsel. Their financial situations can determine their legal needs, and legal matters can have a long-term impact on their financial well-being and goals. But unless properly credentialed to provide financial guidance, lawyers can only refer their clients elsewhere for financial advice and strategy. That’s lost business.

Lawyers who become financial professionals can use skills they’ve already learned in law school and use every day in their work, such as thinking critically, communicating well and building plans, to provide broader, more thoughtful and informed financial expertise to their clients. Supplementing your current services with financial planning may better assist clients, build longer-lasting relationships, expand your client base, and ultimately, have a more fulfilling legal career.

Transferable skills to expand capabilities

Lawyers often play multiple roles for clients, and becoming certified in financial planning can help expand a legal professional’s capabilities and increase their client services. As an example, sometimes a client will ask their lawyer to work directly with their financial adviser to ensure their financial plan aligns to their legal needs and goals. A lawyer also certified as a financial planner can provide a more informed perspective on legal needs, become a one-stop shop and offer bigger-picture advice related to an individual’s unique scenario.

With financial planning certification, a lawyer can recognize a problem they’ve seen from estate planning in their legal work and provide financial guidance with a more in-depth perspective for a client. For example, with insurance policies or annuities in an estate plan, a lawyer who also has financial planning capabilities has deeper knowledge of the components that make up an estate plan which may provide greater credibility with clients. Additionally, many lawyers prepare legal documents, such as wills or estate plans. Having a financial background allows a lawyer to help maximize their client’s estate plan goals because they truly know and understand the client’s financial situation and objectives.

There are several designations one can attain that will align with your current practice such as the Financial Services Certified Professional (FSCP), the Certified Exit Planner (CExP) which can help serve the business owner community and the Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP).

Boost business growth

Leveraging a financial planning skillset can also spark business growth. Clients often work with accountants on taxes, financial professionals on financial needs and lawyers for legal matters. Lawyers who get certified for financial planning become a one-stop shop, which can offer a true competitive advantage. With an array of skills and knowledge that can be applied holistically to both legal and financial needs, an attorney can attract a more diverse client base to grow his or her practice. Having a financial planning certification also differentiates a lawyer from legal peers, which can ultimately lead to more clients and generate additional income.

Build long-term client relationships

Financial planners build long-term relationships with their clients, which often lawyers don’t have the opportunity to do.  For instance, clients usually hire a lawyer for a specific legal need. In many cases, once the lawyer resolves the legal issue, the client no longer needs to retain the lawyer’s services. In contrast, clients hire their financial planners, build an ongoing relationship and expect to get advice for the rest of their lives, as their situations and goals evolve.

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Lawyers who acquire a financial certification have the opportunity to build long-term relationships with clients. It gives them the chance to help clients course-correct, foresee and prepare for future opportunities. Offering both legal and financial planning capabilities leads to fulfilling client relationships that help people with their needs across a broader spectrum while also creating opportunities for growth.

For lawyers who want to supplement their careers or offer added services to their clients, a financial planning certification complements much of the work legal professionals already do and provides immense benefits to clients. Start by having a conversation with a current financial professional about what the work is like and how it could enhance legal services, this may be just the outlet you need to invigorate your practice.

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