Finances at the Bar

The demands of life as a self-employed barrister can mean that often your personal finances take a back seat. But in light of our recently acquired financial freedom, it is our responsibility to ensure we are representing our financial interests as effectively as possible.

Sex Discrimination Act 1975

Women were permitted to open bank accounts in their own right.

No matter what your age, or stage in your career, there are a number of actions you should take, with the support and guidance of a financial adviser, to provide you with peace of mind and ensure you are putting in place the financial foundations necessary to reach your financial goals and not leave anything to chance.


The foundations of your financial plan – protecting everything you have achieved so far and your future goals and objectives.

Without appropriate protection in place:

? How would you pay your bills without an income
? How long would your savings last
? If you were to die or become critically ill, how would your family manage financially at an already difficult and stressful time

69% of people in the UK don’t have any life insurance, critical illness cover or income protection to fall back on.(1)

What you can do:

Everyone’s circumstances are unique, but in all cases, speaking to a financial adviser:

  • To establish the suitability of financial protection you may already have in place
  • Identify any gaps that should be covered
  • Put in place appropriate solutions to secure your financial position 

Will ensure you are prepared for any unexpected risks you might face and safeguard the efforts you have made towards building both your current and future lifestyle.


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.  The value of any tax relief is dependent on individual circumstances.

(1) Aegon UK, Our insight to the nation’s financial wellbeing, 2022.


Creating the retirement lifestyle you want.


On average women retire with a 40.3% smaller pension pot than the average man’s.(1)


This is the annual income a single person requires per year for a comfortable retirement lifestyle.(2)

Whilst the above figures can in part be explained by issues facing women, such as the gender pay gap and maternity breaks, in light of the great steps we are taking in today’s society towards gender equality, it is time that women take control of their future and work to improve this disparity whilst also providing themselves with financial freedom at retirement.

What you can do:

The earlier you start saving for retirement, the easier it will be to create the retirement lifestyle you want. Speaking to a financial adviser they can help you to:

  • Determine what a good retirement looks like for you.
  • Establish a savings plan that is affordable and helps meet your retirement goals.
  • Ensure you are utilising the tax efficient advantages a pension provides.
  • Establish a plan to draw down on your pension when the time comes, that is both the most tax efficient and gives you the financial freedom you have worked hard to achieve. 


(1) Achieving Gender Equality in Pensions, Prospect 2021
(2) The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association/Loughborough University Retirement Living Standards, accessed January 2023.

Building Wealth

Dividing your resources between your short-, medium- and long-term strategies can help ensure your savings and investments help, rather than hinder you when working towards your goals.

Only a third (33%) of women see themselves as investors, much lower than their male counterparts (41%).(1) However, research suggests of those women that are investing, in general, they make better investors than men.(2)

Therefore we must use these investment findings to our advantage when building wealth.

What you can do:

As with all areas of financial planning, everyone’s circumstances are unique, but in all cases, speaking to a financial adviser can help to:

  • Ensure your savings and disposable income, are appropriately balanced between cash and investments.
  • Make the most of tax-efficient allowances available to you.
  • Implement a financial strategy which is suitable, taking into account your risk level and timeframes.
  • Understand the wider economic environment and make rational investment decisions whilst also avoid undue stress.


(1) Fidelity International, Global Women and Money Study, 2021.
(2) Nutmeg, Why Women are Better Investors, 2022.

Review your Financial Plan

This year, next year and every other year after that.

No matter what financial strategy you put in place at the start of your journey, it is likely that as you move through your personal and professional life, your needs, objectives, and circumstances will change.

One simple step is all it takes – regularly review with your financial adviser the plans you have in place, to ensure they continue to remain suitable to your individual circumstances and on track to meeting your goals.

What you can do:

  • Celebrate the wins – you will be surprised how much you are already doing towards achieving your financial goals.
  • Where there are gaps in your plan that need addressing – don’t panic, but equally don’t ignore them – be proactive.
  • If you aren’t already working with someone, find a trusted adviser you get on with, who you can build a long-term relationship with and who will be there along your journey to support you and give you peace of mind that your financial interests are being looked after.


Westgate Wealth Management, provides a friendly, female-led holistic financial advice service specialising in advice for members of the Bar – helping you take the right steps to managing your finances and reach your goals, and is backed by the strength and security of FTSE 100 company, St. James’s Place. 

Your home or other property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

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.

Trusts are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Westgate Wealth Management Limited is an Appointed Representative of and represents only St. James’s Place Wealth Management plc (which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority) for the purpose of advising solely on the Group’s wealth management products and services, more details of which are set out on the Group’s website www.sjp.co.uk/products. The titles ‘Partner’ and ‘Partner Practice’ are marketing terms used to describe St. James’s Place representatives.

Don’t leave your financial future to chance, take action and book your no obligation financial review with Westgate today:

Tel: 01962 353153

Web: https://westgatewealth.co.uk/specialist-advice/the-legal-profession/the-bar

Email: louise.crush@sjpp.co.uk

SJP Approved 28/02/2023

[1] Women and Protection during Coronavirus, Zurich, 22 June 2020.
Figures from LV= Risk Reality Calculator, based on a 40-year-old, non-smoking woman retiring at age 67
[3] A J Bell, 25 February 2019
[4] Retirement Living Standards, Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association, published 2021. Figure is for a standard single person net income. Calculated on an annuity of £4,800 per £100,000 and include an assumed State Pension of £9339 per annum (2021-22). The income figures do not take into account any housing costs. i.e. Mortgage payments or rent. The pension pot assumes any tax-free cash has already been taken.
[5] WealthiHer Network, The Changing Faces of Women’s Wealth, 2021, total number surveyed 22392
[6] Women in Wealth: Managing the Next Decade of Women’s Wealth, Boston Consulting Group 2020 (April 2020)

Her Bar’s top financial tips:

Taxes and Profits

Barristers are responsible for filing their own tax returns as a self-employed worker. Experts tend to advise saving 50% of every brief fee and placing this in savings in order to cover tax payments (both VAT and income tax). *REMEMBER* From April 2019 all businesses with turnover over the VAT Threshold (currently £85,000) are required to maintain digital records as part of HMRC’s scheme Making Tax Digital. 

It’s highly recommended to use an accountant when managing your business finances, but barristers are reminded that any expense incurred “wholly and exclusively in the course of your trade as a barrister” will be deductible in calculating your business profits.

Separate business & personal banking

Having a defined separation between business and personal finances are recommended when self-employed as good common accounting practice. Her Bar recommends setting up a separate business account with a debit and credit card and to have different budget spreadsheets/ accounts if dealing with your finances yourself. This can be done using excel, google sheets, by hand or perhaps through paid software – whichever way you find budgeting easiest.

On a monthly budget don’t forget to include the following expenses:
Income – in the form of billings
⦁ Rent contribution to chambers
⦁ Any tax payments
⦁ Expenses e.g. new technology, books etc…
⦁ Travel costs

Plan ahead of time for career changes

Career changes such as taking a break or achieve the position of a Queen’s Counsel can have a large effect on your  finances and thus it’s recommended to prepare in advance for any changes, ensuring have a buffer savings account.

Many don’t realise that taking Silk can cause your income to temporarily drop, as although fee briefs increase - many take on less cases annually and the demand can be less than for a ‘Senior Junior’ barrister. A classic accounting tip is to have at least 3-6 months of your essential ‘need’ costs e.g. rent, mortgage, food, bills saved, which can be drawn upon during times of financial uncertainty. Of course, the level of financial security will depend on every individual women barrister’s circumstances.

Consider wealth planning

Women in general invest 40% less money than men do, creating a £15 billion investment gap and results in women in their early 60s having on average £36,000 in their retirement pot, whilst men at the same age are able to enjoy an average pot of £142,000. Her Bar is dedicated to gender parity and encouraging women barrister’s to invest and plan their hard-earned wealth to ensure money grows for them is one way to achieve this.

There is a range of support available for women interested in wealth planning ranging from ‘free resources’ to ‘paid experts’, like Westgate Wealth Management featured above.