The Lexis Nexis Bellwether report 2023 – Bold Ambitions

At FB Wealth we always try to ensure we are abreast of developments in the legal sector, and the challenges our legal friends face. Being members of SIFA Professional is integral to this of course, as is this regular newsletter output. Therefore, it was with great interest, in June, that we read this year’s Lexis Nexis Bellwether report, which assessed in detail, with the input from numerous solicitor contributors, the main challenges facing small law firms seeking to grow and be successful in 2023 and beyond.

The well-respected annual insight highlighted five main challenges, identified by a cross section of smaller law firms. These challenges are clearly shown in the image taken from the Bellwether report below:

From the perspective of a financial planning firm, keen to collaborate closely with smaller solicitor practices, it struck us very clearly at FB Wealth, that we can most definately assist with the first and third challenges highlighted.

Attracting new business

Those surveyed were expecting less growth in 2023 than in the previous two annual reports, and the need to attract new clients was a priority. What was interesting was that more than ever, the law firms spoken were citing business development strategies (88% and marketing (81%), which is perhaps not something that would in the past be associated with solicitors.

Certainly, social media is mentioned, as is the importance of testimonials, although the report is not clearly exactly whether the endorsements are directly elicited from clients or via comparison sites. However, it is hard to disagree with the contention that a personal recommendation for a service is without doubt, the best source of new clients, and an actual personal endorsed referral, will always be stronger than a testimonial on a website.

Coincidentally, in June, the SRA published its review from the 1st year of their price comparison website pilot and the findings seem to support the above contention. This quote from ‘Quality Indicators in legal services pilot report’ offers a real insight into the fact, that the public are far from convinced – “Looking at general online behaviour 88% of consumers surveyed said they regularly refer to review websites when shopping around for a new service/product. This figure fell to 22% when asked about legal services in particular”.

In the Law Society Gazette, following up on the SRA findings, the well-respected columnist John Hyde, in a piece on internet ratings reaffirmed this – “While holidays or restaurants seemingly cannot be booked without a stranger validating your decision, the public have consistently preferred to choose lawyers through word of mouth, or geographical familiarity.” (Gazette – 23/06)

It is in this arena, that we believe FB Wealth can actively support the growth, via new client acquisition, for the solicitor practices that have chosen to partner with us for third-party referral. Third-party referral works both ways, because as certainly as you will have clients in need for complementary financial planning advice, we at FB Wealth, will need safe pairs of hands to which we can confidently pass on clients needing legal advice or services.

It is self-evident that being passed new business, and hopefully a new client, courtesy of an endorsed recommendation from the client’s financial planner, will be superior to those generated by marketing or a comparison site. This is the strongest type of the ‘word of mouth’ that John Hyde referred to. That is not to suggest that self-promotion and marketing your services is not a sensible strategy, which is absolutely is, but we would hope to positively supplement that.

Retaining existing clients

In all honestly, we would see this challenge as inextricably linked to the previous one, because of the differing natures of legal services and financial planning. The report suggested that small law firms were concerned at retaining clients beyond a year, which is alarming, as the individualized touch with clients would traditionally be a strength of smaller law forms over their larger siblings.

83% of the respondents to the Lexis Nexis report suggested on the question if growth, that they would do so be attracting more business from existing clients. Indeed, one individual quoted some excellent early career advice: – “One of the wisest things I was told as a young lawyer was not to get so focused on getting new clients that you forget about the actual clients who are loyally with you right now.

Certainly, CRM was cited as being increasingly used to stay in touch with clients, offer them news and inform them of further legal services they might require. In the financial planning community, the CRM, has for some time been actively utilised in that way and we would happily discuss best practice in such use of technology.

What cannot fundamentally change however, and as such will always making it more difficult for law firms to retain clients, is the frequently transactional nature of the work and services provided. Individuals do not move house or get divorced regularly, nor do they need more than one LPA for example. Conversely in financial services, the development of a genuine financial plan with an individual or a couple, based on their life stages, goals and aspiration is the start on an ongoing journey. A journey with twist and turns, regular stop offs, surprises and one therefore, that has a route in need of regular review.

This is why we believe so passionately, not only that the modern-day client requires amore holistic overview and a plan for their affairs that includes legal with tax and financial, but that it is this joined up approach that ensures client retention. A client you refer to FB Wealth for financial advice will invariably be offered advice beyond the pressing need you identified and have a financial plan developed. At various points in that plan, we will need to underpin it with your legal advice and for this we will refer back to you, which obviously assists you congaing that customer into a retained client.

We will be sitting down with clients at least once a year, at every review we will be reinforcing the message that they are a mutual client of both us and the solicitor firm that originally referred them us. So, when you identify an individual, you are advising, needs some ancillary financial advice, whether it be on divorce, buying a house, investing in a trust, or aiming to minimise IHT, by making that positive referral to FB Wealth, you are not only working in their best interests but also in your own. The client will receive the holistic overview and advice they deserve, and this type of satisfied individual or individuals are the ones you will retain long-term.


We are working in professionally challenging times, with high inflation, a cost-of-living crisis, high interest rates, and where clients, or potential clients are seeking value. Value does not mean low-cost but it should mean a complete service for the price, and that will frequently mean joined-up advice from more than one professional. Solicitors working in hand in hand with high quality financial planners, it is our belief, will not only differentiate themselves in the eyes of the customer but the partnership will ensure a flow of new clients and the retention of them.

Please do get in touch to discuss how to align your firm with FB Wealth, so we can offer a better joined-up service to mutual clients and help your grow your business and deepen client relationships.

If you would like a CPD certificate after reading this blog, please complete the following information and we’ll send your certificate by email.

    Get in touch

    Talk to us about your financial objectives and lifetime goals. We’d be delighted to hear from you.