Your lifetime of work experience doesn't become any less valuable once you've retired. Many seniors turn to part-time jobs, volunteer positions, tutoring, and mentorship to stay sharp, stay active, connect, and give back in retirement.
However, folks who have more specialized or executive-level experience -- such as our many friends in engineering -- might find the best use for their skills on a board. Whether you want to help a nonprofit you care about or steer a corporation towards an exciting new chapter, becoming a board member provides new leadership opportunities and new perspectives on how organizations operate.
Working through these five steps will help you think about potential board positions and start laying the groundwork for your next act.
1. Analyze job fit.
Board members have serious responsibilities, from hiring and firing decisions to shaping strategy. You'll most likely be working with other successful, driven people, many of whom will have strong personalities and even stronger opinions.
If the idea of sitting on a board sounds appealing, ask yourself these questions to clarify your goals and find organizations that could be a good match:
- What causes are important to you?
- How can you give back to your community or your profession?
- Are you looking for a new challenge? More structure for your retirement schedule?
- What ideas or concerns do you have related to your profession?
- Is there a specific organization that you are uniquely qualified to help, such as your former employer?
- Are you interested in networking? Making new friends? Connecting with a new community?
2. Review your retirement schedule.
Board members generally don't commit the same amount of time to an organization that an executive does. However, you will have to attend regular board meetings and be available to contribute to major decisions, such as hiring key personnel. Board seats often come with certain social expectations as well, such as attending parties, fundraisers, and major community events.
Will all that be worth your time?
Make sure that you're clear on whether or not the organization's needs and the demands of the board position mesh with the rest of your retirement schedule. Otherwise, you might end up feeling like you've just taken a new job -- one that, depending on the organization, might not pay you for your efforts.
3. Consider some alternatives.
If you just want to stay active in retirement, there are less stressful alternatives to high-level organizational leadership.
While giving back can be an empowering experience for retirees, giving back by sitting on a board might feel like work. Could it be more rewarding to step out of the conference room and volunteer on the ground floor, where you can interact more directly with the people this organization impacts?
Many retired executives also struggle with board positions because they just can't let go of the autonomy they had in their previous jobs. If you're still a CEO at heart, retirement could be the perfect time to start your own company so you can continue to work how you want, when you want, on the things that matter the most to you.
Or, perhaps a total change of scenery would enliven your retirement. If you're qualified to sit on a board, then you have a wide variety of skills that you probably take for granted: reading, writing, math, accounting, web design, Spanish, French, leadership. There are probably dozens of organizations in your community that could benefit from those skills, whether you take a part-time job or volunteer.
4. Write a resume specifically for the board position.
Most organizations want board members who fill specific needs. A growing nonprofit might be looking for a board member with a strong IT or social media background who can help improve online fundraising. An architectural firm that's looking to grow might have a greater need for M&A experts than retired architects. Look for board openings where your specific skill set could have the most value.
You’ll probably want to keep a board resume short and focus on your highest-level responsibilities and accomplishments before retirement. Be sure to add any "board adjacent" experience you have, such as serving on committees or task forces. It also might be a good idea to let a friend, family member, or colleague who's successfully landed a job more recently review your final draft before submission.
5. Meet with your financial advisor.
A paying board seat could boost your retirement income and affect your tax bracket and estate planning.
A non-paying seat will affect how you spend your time and could recalibrate your retirement schedule.
Our comprehensive planning process at Keen Wealth addresses your money, your time, and your goals to make your retirement plan as unique as you.
Let's talk about that board seat you're eying and what this position could add to your golden years.
Bill Keen is a CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR℠ and independent financial advisor with more than 25 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he specializes in providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.
KWMG, LLC’s dba Keen Wealth Advisors (“company”) is an SEC Registered Investment Advisor located in Overland Park, KS. The company and its representatives may only conduct business in those states where registered or where excluded/exempt or from licensure. For registration information please contact the SEC or the state securities regulators for the states where the company is notice filed. A copy of the company ADV is available upon request. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where the company and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. No advice may be rendered by the company unless a client service agreement is in place. This information is not intended to be investment advice or construed as a recommendation or endorsement of any particular investment or investment strategy and is for illustrative purposes only. Clients and prospective clients must consider all relevant risk factors involved with each strategy, including costs or fees, and their own personal financial situations before trading.
The views outlined in the book, Keen on Retirement Engineering the Second Half of Your Life, are those of the author and should not be construed as individualized or personalized investment advice. Any economic and/or performance information cited is historical and not indicative of future results. Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted.
The Amazon Best Seller ranking listed on marketing materials is specifically referring to Best Seller rankings for the Kindle Top 100 Paid Lists under the subcategories of: Budgeting and Financial Risk Management, based on data as of September 5, 2019. Amazon rankings although relevant on how a product is selling overall doesn’t necessarily indicate how well an item is selling among other similar items or similar item categories. Amazon may choose the most popular categories or subcategories within which an item has a high ranking to determine its best seller rankings. These rankings are updated hourly and as a result, should be expected to fluctuate as such. Keen Wealth Advisors and Amazon are not affiliated entities.
The Steve Sanduski Advisor Network, Belay Advisor, LLC and other third-party contributors to our blogs and podcasts are not affiliated with Keen Wealth Advisors.
For additional details on Keen Wealth Advisors, please visit https://www.keenwealthadvisors.com/important-disclosures.