At some point in your career you begin thinking about retirement. For baby boomers the time is now or already here. The thoughts and questions often asked are daunting and create an element of uncertainty. Are you ready for retirement? How do you envision your next phase of life? Will you continue to remain engaged in the profession? Or will you transition into something new?
How is retirement different today?
The definition of retirement has changed dramatically over the last few decades. Lifestyle choices and preferences, along with increased life expectancy, have changed the expectations of each generation in each stage of life. A desire to remain stimulated and challenged mentally has increased in priority. However, the most influential change is in technology through the smartphone and accessibility to software solutions. Technology has enabled professionals to provide services unlike before and thereby opened opportunities that previously didn’t exist.
So many choices
The possibilities in the next phase of life are seemingly endless. But what do you plan to do? Travel, spend time with family and friends, go back to school or pursue a new profession? Financial and accounting professionals often find it hard to let their careers come to a screeching halt resulting in continuing work in a reduced capacity. It is natural to prefer to leverage your experience and capabilities by remaining engaged in your profession. In fact, it may even add balance to some of the other interests you will pursue. The trend of continued growth in the freelancer and independent contractor model in today’s labor force, lends itself nicely toward a part-time working capacity as part of the next phase of life.
The Rise of the Part-Time Professional
For many retirees, remaining engaged in their profession has become an attractive option and is seen as a choice rather than a burden. The success achieved in your professional life, as well as limited career and financial pressures, allow you to be more selective in your next phase of life.
- Accounting or Financial Services: Continue to offer the same type of services in a much reduced capacity by limiting the number of hours worked or number clients serviced. Seasonal opportunities, such as tax preparation services, offer opportunities without a year-round commitment. Online platforms that connect freelancers with engagements play a prominent role.
- Consulting: Consulting engagements offer flexibility, diversity and typically good financial incentives. Many businesses look favorably toward the skill set of financial and accounting professionals to draw on their knowledge and business acumen.
- Volunteer: Volunteerism can be extremely rewarding. The value proposition that an accounting and financial professional brings to an organization with their skill set is high. In addition, the scope of services required can be very broad.
- Teaching: Teaching and tutoring, assuming you have strong communication skills, are great opportunities that draw heavily on your professional knowledge and experience. The options range from part-time positions at local community colleges to tutoring students to online webinars.
- Research: Financial and accounting professionals typically have the skill sets to be excellent researchers. The long-term nature of projects requires attention to detail, an analytical capacity and objectivity.
- Mentoring: A high demand for experienced professionals exists among freelancers and entrepreneurs to help them grow their business. Mentoring provides an opportunity to become more involved in and give back to the local community.
Regardless whether you intend to remain engaged in your profession or transition to something new, preparation is critical. Want to travel? That’s exciting but make sure it fits into your budget. Looking to give back by volunteering? Most likely a fulfilling experience assuming you can tee up the right opportunity. Remain in the profession? Makes sense but you should expect it is likely a different experience from your current job. As part of your planning process, consider the following:
- Take planning seriously
Put pen to paper to give your range of options considerable thought. Establish the objectives and priorities of your potential path. As best as possible, identify any additional costs such as licensing or continuing education.
- Evaluate your personal circumstances and financial obligations
Identify the impact your choices may have on you, your family and your life. Formalize your financial planning by receiving professional advice from a financial planner.
- Protect your assets
Be cognizant of risks that may impact the assets you have built up during your career. If you provide professional services, even if informally, set up an LLC and purchase professional liability insurance.
- Be prepared to pivot
It is likely you will change course of action at some stage during your next phase of life. This could be triggered by a wide range of reasons. And that is fine, but try not to allow it to surprise you.
Your next phase of life should be exciting. Take advantage of the choices presented and find those activities that appeal most. Most importantly, enjoy it as you have earned it!