Retirement was an alien concept until I turned 75. I had thought that it was for wimps, or the idle rich, or people who discovered that they werenâ€™t irreplaceable. Or maybe not for those who could never break their established routine, or whose limited outside interests gave them no way to fill their days other than by working.
Or perhaps they always had one more mountain to climb, one more river to cross before they could reach that pot of gold at the foot of the rainbow that flickered just often enough to keep them going.
I see myself in parts of that description, or at least I used to. I had always told my family that I was going to continue my 36-year part-time CFO practice until I was 75. Eighteen months ago, my last major client and I identified and hired a full-time CFO successor. This ended the succession of 240 separate engagements just two weeks prior to my 76th birthday.
(One small professional advisory relationship remains so that I can stay in shape professionally: Iâ€™m not ready to lose the skills that took all those years to develop.)
The longest of these â€œgigsâ€ (which is what theyâ€™re called now) extended over eleven years (thanks to Vanguard Racing Sailboats, Inc. and Fabrico, Inc., respectively). The shortest took just a month for us to identify the need for a full-time accountant and to help the company hire a person with the right skills.
So what does lifeâ€™s new balance sheet look like?
- Thereâ€™s no urgency, except that which I create for myself. No deadlines means almost no stress.
- Everything is an option, consistent with the need to maintain retained earnings for, say, the next 20 years or so. (We should live so long!)
- There is no absence of worthy organizations to satisfy my ongoing need for meaningful participation.
- As I was unfortunately reminded of two months after my retirement, I am not immortal, and the gift of time now brings the â€œlegacy listâ€ to the fore.
- Annie and I have five children and spouses, eleven grandchildren, and two step-grandchildren and spouses. They seem receptive to hearing our lifeâ€™s lessons.
- Travels to the U.K., Iceland, and Norway during the past 12 months have provided welcome relief from the â€œ24-hour news cycleâ€ in the U.S. We will do more of that.
- Road trips within the U.S. â€” without electronics (except GPS)â€”have been a great opportunity to connect with old friends and new.
- Reading, reflecting on, and discussing good books helps to avoid at least some of the banality of our times.
- Six days a week of cardio and strength workouts provides a significant organizing element to my life as well as major health benefits.
- What do I do when Iâ€™m confronted with the question: â€œDo you know someone who can provide part-time financial analysis to help my business grow and achieve greater profitability?â€ Let me provide this Alligator Bite of an answerâ€¦
I am pleased to pass along my practice as a part-time CFO to my long-time associate, Aruna Jayakumar. Aruna and I have worked together for thirty years now, and she is the most impressive small business financial manager I know.
Aruna has an unerring ability to assemble a seemingly disparate array of data, to make sense of it, and thus to support both tactical and strategic recommendations to client owners and managers. Working as a part-time client staff member, she integrates herself extremely well with both administrative and operations employees. She takes the lead in everything from analyzing and negotiating materials costs to developing and maintaining bank relationships to reporting regularly to management teams.
In her work with Financial Managers, she has on numerous occasions been the integral link to funders who have relied on her financial analysis in making their decisions. She has also reliably and accurately completed due diligence on their behalf.
I recommend Aruna to you to accomplish all of Financial Managersâ€™ standard tasks, and then some, as described on our web site at www.finman.com, and I look forward to continuing our association as occasions may arise in the future.
Many thanks for your support over the years. Do stay in touch.