20 September 2022 By Next-Up
Should firms stop investing in their people, ahead of retirement?
At international law firm, Addleshaw Goddard, they believe there should be investment at the end of a career as much as at the start. This way partners leaving the firm will have skills and ideas for the next stage of their life, whatever that looks like. But is this a wasted investment for the firm?
Senior partner Charles Penney was one of the first to go on an innovative programme run by Next-Up to help partners use their skills in new ways when they leave the firm. He said, “It was a real eye-opener on so many levels. We had a fantastic panel of speakers who gave us ideas and made us realise that you can try a lot of new things without worrying about ‘failure’ and we learned new skills. Much to my surprise, I found the session on LinkedIn extremely valuable!”
Victoria Tomlinson founded Next-Up three years ago because she was seeing so many senior people expecting opportunities to come their way when they left their firms. Many struggled with mental health when retirement was not the dream they expected. She says, “Our speakers share honestly some of the challenges of retirement so individuals will not feel it’s a personal failure if plans take a while to work. For many, the hardest part is imagining what they will do – they are starting with a blank sheet. We share dozens of stories from turning hobbies into businesses; becoming mentors, coaches, writers and supporting charities; to winning non-executive director roles. All alongside enjoying a new life with time for family, leisure and keeping fit.”
Addleshaw Goddard has a strong employer brand which aims for everyone working at the firm to meet their full potential. Mary Peterson, Head of Responsible Business, says the firm helps individuals to develop at every stage of their career – and it should be no different at its end, “We want all leavers to leave on the best possible terms – so investing in people who are in the latter stages of their career is never a wasted investment. We want them to be advocates for the firm and armed with skills to make a success of this next stage.”
One partner mentioned the programme to his clients and said they were very envious. As Mary Peterson adds, “These programmes are quite unusual at the moment. But we are all living longer and doing more interesting things when we leave corporate life – I think they will become the norm. And in due course, the word ‘retirement’ will become outdated!”
She says that partners tend to fall into five categories: those who imagine a traditional retirement, but not thought through if it’s what they really want; those who have not had time to think about the future at all; those who have ideas but don’t know how to make them happen; those who think opportunities will just come to them – because they have throughout their career; and those who have ideas and start planning before they leave. She adds, “We noticed that partners who are most successful in their next stage – whatever that means for each person – are often the ones who think ahead and start networking in a strategic and proactive way. We want to give this same chance – and time to think and plan – to every partner.”
All the partners who went on the programme said they would recommend it, even if they were sceptical at the start about its benefit. Comments included, “This programme stimulates a breadth of thinking about the next stage which is difficult to achieve independently, having been operating in a law firm environment for many years.”
Another said, “The programme really made me think about a 100-year life. You don’t want to keep going at the pace we do now, but equally we will probably need more than travelling and lunch with friends. You need to start planning what that could look like now.” Tomlinson added, “I am really impressed with how Addleshaw Goddard is looking at this topic. We have just done a recorded online session for them, which is available to all partners in the firm to start thinking about ‘retirement’ earlier in life. It really is never too early to start thinking and planning for this. What AG has done is to create a safe space for people to bounce ideas around
Next-Up helps anyone over 50 who doesn’t want another mainstream job. We support organisations with a range of services for employees/partners as well as individuals themselves. A key part of our role is to inspire people with ideas and contacts, beyond traditional expectations.