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David Werdiger's Familosophy

What Is ‘Retirement’?

What is retirement

The term ‘retirement’ evokes a certain scenario: someone spends their working life in employment, accumulating savings along the way, then ceases work (perhaps in their 60s or beyond), lives off their savings and enjoys a life of leisure instead of work.

While that scenario may fit for a large proportion of people, there are many for whom it is completely meaningless and foreign.

Plenty of entrepreneurs ‘retire’ after a business sale, quickly get bored, and look for a new challenge. For many younger people, the notion of full-time employment is being challenged: the ‘gig’ economy allows people to choose what they do, when, and for whom, without the traditional constraints of a boss, or a career path. Where there is a family enterprise, or family wealth, the role of ’employment’ within that system may again be something entirely different.

The term ‘retirement’ is very loaded, and in certain contexts even the mention can lead a family into a challenging situation. In family business, the longer an incumbent waits to consider ‘it’, the harder ‘it’ gets.

Certainly within the family enterprise space, it’s time to stop using the r-word entirely. Rather, we can think of stages of life, roles, and the transitions between them. That framing should start as early as possible for everyone.

Consider This: Have members of your family found the thought of retiring confronting? Do you know of any family members who never actually moved forward from the role they held for many years? What was the impact on them and on the wider family?

Original articles: 

Here is more on reading on family wealth transfer.

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