A lawyer’s career is a demanding one. For equity partners, the stakes are higher given the financial commitment required and the increasing expectations from both the firm and clients. The challenges of balancing career and life are also far greater as personal time is at a premium.
As you reach this milestone of achievement, it makes good sense to take stock and reassess both your career plan and financial plan.
Understanding your career lifecycle
As recruiters who specialize in the legal sector, The Counsel Network has worked directly with lawyers of all levels. We’ve had countless heartfelt, confidential conversations about their careers and aspirations. From 30 years of engaging with and listening to equity partners, we have noticed a few similarities and common themes in their backstories. What has become clear to us is a common cyclical progression experienced by lawyers as their knowledge, expertise and comfort zone within the profession evolve.
We have identified four phases in this progressive cycle, each with a unique impact on the lawyer’s life, family and future. There is no set timeline for one to travel through the four phases – in fact, a lawyer might experience the cycle or portions of it several times throughout their career.
Like anything that’s new, you may face a steep learning curve as a freshly appointed equity partner. The work is challenging and there is excitement in your new role. You may feel overwhelmed, but you are taking it all in stride.
You’ve got some time and experience as an equity partner under your belt. You feel confident and are motivated. You are achieving targets and making a valuable contribution.
You’ve established your place in the firm, so your foot eases off the gas. You’ve hit a plateau. You begin to experience boredom and declining motivation. Your mind wanders to thinking the grass might be greener elsewhere.
You’re feeling frustrated and unhappy. You start seeing a lot of negatives in things that did not bother you before and may be heading for burnout.
As an equity partner, you should take these developmental phases into consideration when developing an effective plan at the pinnacle of your career and as you build a lifestyle that will eventually take you into retirement. Until that time arises, it is important that you proactively seek learning opportunities that combine your talents, values and aspirations as you navigate the four developmental phases. This might mean exploring new roles inside or outside your firm. Critically, this means recognizing the tell-tale signs and laying the groundwork for new learning opportunities before you hit the cruising phase – or worse, slip into disengagement. A misstep here could trip up the long-term health of your career and reputation, as well as your family life.
Thriving professionally and preparing for retirement
As an equity partner, you are in a period of professional success and personal fulfilment. If you are a parent, you may be seeing your children finishing school and leaving home, which can lead to more time and freedom for you to explore personal interests. At the same time, at the peak of your career, you are witnessing your experience and expertise reflected in your professional recognition and remuneration.
So what are the key financial considerations that should be on your radar?
- Becoming an empty nester
- Having more time for hobbies and charitable/philanthropic work
- Preparing for early retirement
- Spending time abroad (vacation home/traveling)
- Spending time with family/grandchildren
- Suffering from additional health problems
- Caring for elderly parents
- Dealing with the death of a spouse
A unique set of personal and professional developments have shaped your life up to now, so your financial needs may differ from those of your peers. Nonetheless, there are basic financial steps that generally make sense for equity partners.
Ensuring your family’s financial goals are met
From a financial perspective, your family’s financial goals should be on track. If this is not currently the case, make the necessary adjustments to avoid surprises. While you may experience an increase in disposable income if your children move out or you finish paying off your mortgage, it’s important to ensure your future financial needs are taken care of before you rush off to spend your surplus income.
Here are eight key steps that you can take – in addition to the steps that you took during your path to partnership [hyperlink to sr. Associate article] – to ensure you stay on course for a bright financial future:
- Start planning now for succession of your practice. After spending years building a successful practice and portfolio of clients, the last thing that you or your firm wants is the client relationships falling apart or fading away once you’re out of the picture. This is why succession planning is critical. Finding the right team of lawyers to take over important client relationships takes time, but this is time well spent if it leads to a smooth transition.
- Free the trapped surplus in your professional corporation. There’s a good chance you’ve built a significant financial surplus in your corporation over the course of your career. As you now inch closer to retirement, you may be wondering how to maximize the amount of this surplus that will end up going to your family rather than taxes. One tax-efficient strategy to consider is corporate-owned life insurance. By purchasing life insurance with dollars taxed at the corporate tax rate rather than your personal tax rate, you can potentially save many thousands of dollars in taxes when the proceeds of this policy are eventually paid out to your family. This is most effective when implemented while you still have a suitable career runway to justify the placement of corporately owned insurance.
- Top up your RRSP. Many lawyers are near the peak of their earning potential at this point of their career, making this a great time to maximize RRSP contributions. This is especially true if your household expenses have declined – for example, if you’ve paid off your mortgage. By directing surplus income to your RRSP, you can reduce your tax bill now when it’s at its highest and defer the tax until you start making RRSP withdrawals in later years, at which point you may be in a lower tax bracket.
- Grow your RRSP while managing risk. The closer you are to retirement and the time when you will start drawing on your RRSP, the more important it becomes to reduce the risk profile of your investments as you will have less time to ride out a major market downturn. As your RRSP may be a key component of your retirement plan, it’s crucial to protect and optimize
- Choose assets aligned with your changing risk profile. As your risk appetite declines, permanent life insurance remains a versatile financial tool that can help you transfer wealth to your loved ones in a tax-efficient manner. Even in your 60s and beyond, if your health permits, you can purchase additional coverage, or better yet, convert term insurance that you bought in the past into permanent life insurance. The latter approach lets you bypass medical testing, so it’s an option even if your insurability is questionable due to health reasons. Permanent life insurance may include tax-free investment growth with the policy and a low- or no-tax payout to your beneficiaries upon your death.
- Get your estate in order. Caring for your family is of utmost importance, and estate planning is a critical component of this. Yet nearly one in six Canadians has a will that is not up to date, according to an Angus Reid Institute poll. Taking the time now to establish clear plans can save your loved ones significant stress following your death – a time when they should instead be focused on grieving. In addition to having an up-to-date will, another key aspect of a solid estate plan is ensuring that your loved ones are looked after financially after you’re gone.
- Obtain long-term care insurance. A loss of independence following an accident or due to a long-term illness is one of the greatest challenges that some Canadians face as they grow older. Statistics Canada data suggests that 6.8% of Canadians over 64 years old live in a nursing home or seniors’ residence. Long-term care insurance can complement disability and critical illness insurance to provide additional financial support if you become unable to care for yourself. This coverage can help provide peace of mind that you will be able to afford in-home care or extra support in a retirement home should you one day require it.
- Plan your legacy. The wealth that you build during your lifetime will, with good planning, likely outlast you, so what do you want it to do after you’re gone? To develop a clear purpose, it’s important to ask big questions so that you can see the big picture. While you will likely leave some of your wealth to loved ones, you may also have the ability to make a significant impact in areas meaningful to you by directing some of it toward philanthropic causes. The key is to approach this issue thoughtfully with input from family members and advisors so that you can make meaningful decisions.
Staying on track with a clear plan
If you find yourself riding high on personal and professional achievements as an equity partner, remember to keep pushing ahead with your wealth management plan so that these good times can continue into retirement and beyond. On the other hand, if you feel financially unprepared at this juncture in your career, the good news is that it is never too late to take action and improve your situation.
For any lawyer, there is great value in working with trusted individuals who can act as a sounding board and guide you toward choices fully aligned with your needs. And while it’s beneficial to start with both career and financial planning as early as possible, it’s never too late to begin tackling these important issues.
What comes to mind when you hear “life insurance”? A monetary gift for your children? An old-fashioned financial tool? An unnecessary expense?
Life insurance is many things, including misunderstood. Many people have only a vague idea – and sometimes significant misconceptions – about how this type of insurance works and the value that it offers. In a well-rounded financial plan, however, life insurance is actually a key pillar alongside TFSA and RRSP accounts, real estate, wills and trusts, and other core financial tools.
If you’re a bit fuzzy on the benefits of owning life insurance and the ways that you can use it as part of your overall financial plan, read on as we share – and bust – three myths about life insurance.
Myth 1: I don’t need life insurance because I have a large investment portfolio
Having a large investment portfolio is of course a good thing, but you never know how the markets will be performing at the time of your death. If you happen to die while financial markets are weak, your estate may have to liquidate significant investments at low prices to cover any tax bills – for example, to pay capital gains tax when passing on the family cottage. Life insurance can play a complementary role alongside your investment portfolio by providing liquidity upon your death for your estate to pay this or other tax bills.
Myth 2: Life insurance is important only for young families
For young families, having life insurance policies for the parents is an important risk mitigation strategy to ensure the family’s financial needs will be taken care of if one or both parents die unexpectedly at a young age. Beyond this, however, life insurance can offer significant advantages at any age. For example, if you are older and have built up significant value within a whole life insurance policy, you can tap into this value and use it to generate cash flow by using your policy as collateral for a loan.
Myth 3: Life insurance is not tax efficient because premiums are not tax deductible
Although the premiums you pay are indeed not tax deductible generally, life insurance nonetheless offers significant tax advantages. For example, the cash value component within a whole life insurance policy can be invested and grow on a tax-sheltered basis. This means the investments within your life insurance policy can grow into a sizeable nest egg faster than if you were to hold the same investments in a non-registered account without preferential tax treatment. In addition, the death benefit of your life insurance policy is paid out to your loved ones on a tax-free basis upon your death, allowing them to benefit from the full value of the policy.
Tapping into the true value of life insurance
There are many myths about life insurance, including misconceptions about what it can and cannot do. The reality is that life insurance is a versatile tool that can play a valuable role in your overall financial plan.
Whatever the size of your existing investment portfolio, your current age and life stage, and your tax-related objectives, life insurance can be used strategically to advance your financial goals.
To learn more about using life insurance to grow your wealth and protect your loved ones, contact Rubach Wealth at (647) 349-7070.
In mid-2019, the total debt held by Millennials in Canada climbed above half a trillion dollars to $515.9 billion, up 12.3% from mid-2018 according to a recent TransUnion report.
Aside from being a huge number, this figure – and the rapid year-on-year increase – is worrying given that Millennials report having relatively low financial literacy. According to a PWC report, 24% of Millennials indicate having only a basic level of financial literacy while only 8% rate their financial literacy as high.
Why does this matter? Because adopting bad financial habits at an early age can have long-lasting negative consequences, from falling into a long-term debt trap to missing out on valuable long-term benefits.
The good news is that if you’re a Millennial, there’s plenty that you can do now to put yourself on track for better financial outcomes, even if you owe a good chunk of that half-a-trillion debt.
Small steps toward large goals
When it comes to your finances, little things can add up to a big impact – especially when time is on your side. Here are several financial tools and strategies that you can use to make relatively small changes with the potential for large payoffs:
- Keep your debt to a minimum. If you have student loans, it may take you 9–15 years to pay them off according to data from the Canada Student Loans Program. While you can’t avoid this, you can do yourself a huge favour by not going further into debt. Opting for a used car rather than a new one and paying off your credit card bill in full each month will help you maintain a healthier financial position.
- Power up your savings. If you set aside some savings each month after covering all your essentials, you’re already on the right track. However, this money won’t grow much in a simple savings account. By depositing these funds in a registered investment account such as a tax-free savings account (TFSA) or registered retirement savings plan (RRSP), you can use time and tax advantages to help your money grow.
- Safeguard your financial well-being. When you’re young and healthy, it’s easy to feel invincible. Yet the sad reality is that many young people still suffer major accidents and illnesses each year. With disability and critical illness insurance, you can protect your financial well-being. If an injury or illness leaves you unable to work, this insurance can help you focus on recovery rather than how to pay your bills.
- Protect your loved ones while investing wisely. Life insurance is a powerful tool for ensuring your loved ones will be protected financially when you’re no longer around while also providing you with valuable opportunities for tax-efficient investing. And because premiums are based on your age and health, the earlier you obtain coverage, the lower your premiums will be.
Personalized approach, rewarding outcomes
From finances to musical tastes to how you like your coffee, everyone is unique. Nonetheless, there are various financial milestones that many Millennials will likely face at some point in their 20s and 30s – for example, starting a new career, paying off student debt, getting married, and saving up for or buying a first home.
Regardless of where you are in your journey, boosting your financial literacy and implementing sound financial practices can help bring you closer to your goals. To discuss your path to a brighter future, contact Rubach Wealth at (647) 349-7070.
As far as taglines go, “You are not the client*” may seem an unusual message. Yet, if the new Rubach Wealth tagline makes you pause to ponder its meaning, then it’s doing its job.
When we introduced this new tagline as part of a recent rebranding effort, we hoped it would spark conversations and reflection. In this blog post, we explain the thinking behind this bold statement and how it underpins our approach to providing customized financial planning and family office services.
Helping those you hold dear
As the asterisk implies, there’s deeper meaning behind “You are not the client*” than might be obvious at first glance.
At Rubach Wealth, we work with successful professionals and business owners. However, a lot of the financial planning work we do with them is aimed at providing for others – typically the people and causes that they care about. Enter the asterisk.
In this sense, the actual client is the spouse or children or other loved ones who will benefit from the financial plans and insurance strategies that we put in place. In other cases, the true client is a foundation or charitable cause that will benefit from financial gifts aimed at supporting its worthwhile work.
No matter how successful you are, you need a financial plan to ensure that the people and causes you care about benefit in the way you want them to. A failure to plan can mean leaving behind a mess for the people you hold dearest. You can’t sort this out or influence outcomes after you’re gone – this is something you need to tackle now. Our role is to help you do what’s needed to drive the best results for the ultimate client*.
Holistic Family Advisors™
Your wealth does not exist in a bubble separate from the rest of your life. Instead, it is closely interconnected with all facets of your family, professional and personal life. We help you see the big picture and develop holistic solutions that enable you to take care of the ones you love.
In terms of services, this entails providing comprehensive financial planning and insurance strategies to help you grow, protect, enjoy and share your wealth.
In terms of experience, however, we work with you on a more profound level. We ask tough questions. We guide you through the sometimes-emotional process of financial decision-making. We dig into the complexity of your situation to shape solutions that truly fit. We draw upon our deep resource pool to deliver the support you need, and we connect you with the best external experts when something is beyond our expertise.
Ultimately, this holistic approach leads to better outcomes by ensuring greater harmony between you, your family, your causes and your wealth.
Customized service, now and always
Our recent branding refresh was aimed at achieving better alignment between what we do at Rubach Wealth and how we communicate it. While our tagline and the articulation of our guiding principles have evolved, one critical element has remained steadfast: our commitment to providing customized service.
From day one, Rubach Wealth has recognized and respected every client as the unique individual they are. We know that providing you with the best advice and holistic service starts with building a deep understanding of your life – from your family and career to your worries and aspirations. This has always been the foundation of our tailored approach to providing exceptional service, and it always will be.
If you would like to learn more about how we can support you – and help you help others – with financial planning and family office services, please contact Rubach Wealth for a consultation.