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20 April 2022    |    Blog

Hanging up my hat: Retiring as a third sector consultant

Just how is Consultants for Good member Gareth Morgan coping with the step down from the consultancy work?

I’ve just hung up my hat as third sector consultant, but I’ve actually been thinking about retirement since my mid-40s.

However, like many consultants I have had a range of working patterns.  For much of my career I have been both an university academic (paid through PAYE – though part-time for the last 25 years) as well as a freelance charity consultant – and the freelance work has been done through a partnership with my wife, Sharon, in our firm Kubernesis (Greek for ‘governance’). So any retirement decision had several angles.

I always liked the idea of a phased retirement and I managed to retire from my substantive academic post at the end of 2015. But rather than giving me more free time, I found many more charities seeking our help!  So, in recent years, I have been working nearly full time as an adviser to charities especially around the subtle issues of charity law and accounting and how those vary between the different jurisdictions of the UK.

So, the decision to step down from the consultancy work was, in the end, almost as big as the decision the retire from academia six years ago.

It became clear to us by around the middle of the lockdown period that we really didn’t have the stamina to continue for more than another year or so.  We were fairly confident we would be OK financially.  So the main decisions were around a whole range of practical/emotional questions such as:

So – two weeks from the cut off date – how are we coping?

First, I’m pleased that my idea of saying we would only be available on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the work still in progress seems to be OK and clients are accepting that.  (But, like most of us involved in the sector, I am still busy with voluntary roles on other days.)

Second, there is no doubt that it is all a bit disorienting.  Even if a retirement is carefully planned, it is, of necessity, a pretty material change to one’s role and status.

But third and foremost, I am convinced that it was the right decision.  There is a risk of people keeping going too long, beyond their competence, especially working as one’s own boss.  Whilst I hope I still have my marbles, it is right to draw a line!

Gareth Morgan

Consultants for Good member