[Originally published 25 March 2019]
When we’re young, looking forward to an illustrious career and enthusiastically connecting with everyone we know on Linked In, it never crosses our minds that the process works in reverse at the other end of our career. I was going through my contacts on Linked In the other day feeling blessed to have over 500 Linked In ‘friends’ (hello everyone) when I suddenly realised that many of my strongest client relationships have already retired or are about to. At the same time as thinking they don’t look old enough to be retiring – that’s true - I wondered if others felt the same way I did. Chatting to a friend recently who is one of the most senior partners in his firm, it seems I am not alone. Strategies for how to stay afloat in these circumstances, especially in firms which still maintain an ‘eat what you kill’ remuneration structure, include braving the firm’s ski trip with all the thirty somethings, nicking other partner’s clients, transitioning from a rain-maker role to a senior counsel advisor or just keeping one’s head below the parapet and hoping no-one notices. Firms have processes to transition clients of retiring partners but what about transitioning partners of retiring clients - what strategies do firms have for partners who find their client networks are retiring before them leaving the partners wondering how they will survive the next 5 - 10 years? Answers on a postcard please.