New Zealand Law Society - Legal Tender: Enduring Wealth Management for Busy Legal Professionals

Legal Tender: Enduring Wealth Management for Busy Legal Professionals

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Reviewed by Geoff Adlam

Are you a Family Steward, a VIP, or perhaps an Independent? If you’re a lawyer, the chances are you’re not a Mogul or an Innovator.

Authorised Financial Adviser Laetitia Peterson has published what has to be the first-ever book written for New Zealand lawyers on all the things they should consider when it comes to managing their own finances and planning for the future. Written in an easy-to-read style, this is a book which lawyers of any age in any part of the profession will derive value from.

Cover of the book Legal TenderThe book is structured around a survey and interviews with 65 lawyers. There is no overall summary of their demographics and indications are that the 65 (of whom 61 consented to personal interviews) are not a representative sample of the New Zealand legal profession (64% were male and over 26% were from Christchurch, compared to 53% and 9% in reality). However, while a statement that 15% of lawyers have no financial strategy needs to be taken in context of the sample, the lawyers’ views and stories drive a very helpful and informative discussion of financial planning from a lawyer’s perspective. It’s essentially like listening in to an engaged and articulate focus group with helpful information and comments from the facilitator.

Returning to the Family Steward and VIP etc, Ms Peterson starts by looking at nine money personalities. From her discussions she found that a very high proportion of the lawyers identified as Family Stewards (“ensuring sufficient assets to provide for my family’s security and well-being”), VIPs (“having sufficient assets to enjoy a good lifestyle”) and Independents (wanting to attain and maintain financial freedom). Moguls (who seek power, influence and control) and Innovators (focused on leading-edge products and services) were absent.

From identification of your personality, the discussion moves to money-making decisions and financial literacy, including just how much the group of lawyers knew about KiwiSaver – with 61% of those surveyed contributing. Buying a family home and investing were the dominant wealth-creating strategies of the lawyer group.

Ample reward

Any lawyer who uses the book to review their situation and financial behaviours will find ample reward. Inevitably it moves towards the endgame of any financial management: Retirement. Along the way there are many helpful insights and suggestions on things to consider when you’re trying to match a fulfilling lifestyle with prudent financial planning.

Ms Peterson’s fluid writing style leads easily from one topic to another. A good example of this comes in her introduction to the section on wealth management processes: “After asking lawyers about their wealth strategies, the next logical question had to be about execution. The proof, after all, is in the pudding, not the recipe. I wanted to determine the ideal process or level of personal involvement for lawyers in managing their wealth. Formulating a strategy is one issue. But the execution in implementing, monitoring and augmenting that strategy requires an ongoing level of focus and commitment.”

The book is not long and is very well structured. Diagrams and tables along with easy-to-follow headings make it very readable. I am sure that most lawyers will find it well worth reading.

Legal Tender: Enduring Wealth Management for Busy Legal Professionals, The Private Office, May 2015, 978-1-508753-0603, 183 pages, paperback and e-book, US$9.99 (Kindle), US$12.99 (Amazon).

Geoff Adlam is New Zealand Law Society Communications Manager. He almost certainly is a Family Steward.

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