by Greg Butler
In this article, Greg Butler, an Irish Retirement Coach, writes about the initial challenges faced by an executive who retires early, under unfavorable circumstances, before he finds contentment and fulfillment in his new role.
The protagonists were equal partners in a small, but profitable, manufacturing business, which they had operated together for 15 years.
They fundamentally disagreed on business policy and their personal relationships had deteriorated to the point where it was adversely affecting the business, and the partners’ personal lives.
My client (names have been changed) David, in his late fifties, though tired of the business and interested in retiring, was reluctant to sell to his partner Mike, who wished to continue.
My role was to facilitate the partners in exploring their options.
David was more concerned to talk about personal issues and conflicts, rather than the business and its prospects.
I met the partners separately on four occasions over a two week period, only bringing them together for the last hour of the final meeting. At the first meeting Mike expressed the clear preference to buy out David and for him to leave the business immediately. This came as a shock to David (Be careful of what you wish for…), though later he agreed that this was the best option for him also.
The challenge for me was neither about valuing the business, nor in choosing among business options-it was obvious that the situation had become intolerable and that they could not continue working together. The challenge was in brokering a deal between two people who were barely capable of exchanging civil words. The result was a agreement with which both partners were happy.
An important effect of the deal was David’s need for retirement coaching on the implications of retirement, for which he seemed totally unprepared both financially and psychologically.
He didn’t have a pension so I advised him to seek professional advice on investing for retirement and retirement income planning. The source and certainty of his regular income was now gone.
He wondered if he had enough money, from the proceeds of the sale of his share of the business, to retire. I explained that the answer depended on his retirement goals and lifestyle choices.
David had no hobbies and few friends outside of work. His wife was very concerned about his ability to adjust to retirement, which had come about so suddenly, and she wasn’t enthusiastic about the prospect of having him under her feet all day.
Over the following six months I coached him on his journey through the phases of preparation, euphoria, disenchantment and contentment.