Executives Planning for Retirement: The Next Chapter

Smooth Transitions: Key Considerations for CEOs and Executives Approaching Retirement 

As executives move toward mid-50s, often thoughts move to “what’s next”. What does that look like? Whilst we often are encouraged to financially plan for retirement, there are many other things to consider that will enable us to live a fulfilling life after full time work.  


What will that look like for you?  


Retirement is often seen as a time to relax and enjoy the fruits of one’s labour, but for CEOs and executives, it should also be a time of reflection and planning. As leaders of organisations, you have spent your career making strategic decisions, leading teams and driving innovation.  

As you approach retirement age, you should consider how you want to spend your time, what legacy you want to leave, and how you can continue to make a difference, all whilst leaving time for you to enjoy some “down time”. 


Creating a Life After Work 

For many, retirement is not a time to stop working altogether but rather a time to shift your focus to new activities and pursuits. Some may choose to take on board appointments or interim executive roles, using expertise to advise and mentor others. Others may choose to focus on personal interests such as travel, volunteering or pursuing creative endeavours. Many incorporate both professional and personal pursuits within their portfolio. 


One important consideration for those transitioning into retirement is creating a portfolio of activity that balances professional and personal pursuits. For example, an executive who is passionate about education may choose to take on a board appointment with a non-profit organisation focused on improving access to education. At the same time, you may also plan to travel, take up a new hobby, or spend more time with family and friends or children and grandchildren. 


Professionally, you might also consider how you can leave a legacy beyond your retirement. 

 Succession planning is a critical aspect of this. Effective succession planning can help ensure that an organisation can continue to thrive after the CEO or executive retires. This should be a strategic activity that looks at the organisation’s needs moving forward, inclusive of all senior roles. Engaging in these activities in a timely manner (i.e., years before required) allows you to identify and groom successors for all key roles, create a leadership pipeline, and develop a plan for knowledge transfer. 


All these take time.


Beyond succession planning, you may also consider your impact on your industry and broader community. For example, you may choose to establish a foundation that supports causes you care about, such as education or healthcare. You may also choose to mentor younger professionals, passing on your knowledge and experience to the next generation of leaders. 


Challenges and Considerations 

While retirement can be an exciting time of new opportunities and pursuits, it can also present challenges for CEOs and executives. Many may struggle with a loss of identity and purpose, as your professional role has defined you for so many years. This can lead to feelings of isolation, depression or anxiety. 


To navigate these challenges, it is important for CEOs and executives to build a support system that includes family, friends and colleagues. You may also benefit from working with a coach to help navigate the emotional and psychological aspects of retirement. 


Obviously, another consideration is financial planning. Retirement often comes with a significant shift in income and expenses, and it is important for you to have a clear understanding of your financial situation and options. This may involve working with a financial planner to create a retirement plan that aligns with your goals and aspirations. 


Retirement is a crucial milestone for CEOs and executives, and it demands careful consideration and planning. To make a smooth transition and lead a satisfying retirement, it is essential to create a portfolio of activities that balance personal and professional pursuits, reflect on your legacy and impact, and establish a support system. This way, you can effectively navigate this phase, make a positive impact professionally, and enjoy a fulfilling retirement.