Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Small Business and Retirement - Ethics Question
Old 05-10-2015, 03:05 PM   #1
Recycles dryer sheets
Culture's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 491
Small Business and Retirement - Ethics Question

I run a small consulting business where I am the sole employee. I provide professional services to clients who typically retain me for multiple engagement per year. My better clients hire retain me on a new engagement about once per week or two. On the other end, I have clients who engage me once or twice per year. My oldest clients have been with me 15-20 years, and my typical client has been with me at least five years. I do not have a lot of new clients as I do not have the capacity to much work from new clients (all of my work is existing clients or referrals).

My business provides consulting services to clients involved in litigation, and my clients are mostly lawyers. While there are others in town who offer the same services that I offer, I have a great reputation and my clients hire me when I have capacity to take on new jobs.

So here is the question:

I will be retiring in the next two to six weeks. By retiring I mean I will stop taking new assignments and will continue to work until all my existing assignments are complete. Do I have any ethical (or moral) obligation to provide a "notice" to my clients before I actually stop taking assignments? I had not thought about this until my wife mentioned it this week. I do not think I will leave any clients in the lurch, as there are competent competitors in town (they are just not as good as me ).
__________________

__________________
Culture is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 05-10-2015, 03:22 PM   #2
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Phoenix
Posts: 473
I think I would tell each of the infrequent clients when you accept the last assignment for that firm. For those who retain you frequently, you might remain flexible so they won't have to rush to find a replacement, perhaps give them a couple of weeks. Word may get around though so you may miss out on some work as clients move to replace you preemptively. Alternately, I suppose you could give a month's notice to everyone about what you intend to do.
__________________

__________________
Ian S is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-10-2015, 03:46 PM   #3
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
RunningBum's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 5,181
Do they exclusively use you, or are you often too busy and they have to find someone else at those times? I would likely inform any of my regular customers. Infrequent ones I might not bother, though you could. I don't know your business but it seems to me like if I had a handyman I used a lot, I would hope he'd tell me if he was retiring. But if I use a plumber only once a year or less, I wouldn't expect him to tell me, and if I found out he had retired when I need him I wouldn't feel let down, I'd just go to the next one. And I'd expect my family doctor or dentist to tell me if he/she were retiring since I exclusively use them, even if it isn't that often.

It seems like a professional thing to do, and since you aren't taking any new business, it can't hurt you.
__________________
RunningBum is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-11-2015, 06:56 AM   #4
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
donheff's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 8,643
Since you are retiring in a matter of weeks what possible downside is there to notifying clients? Letting people who have used you for years know you are leaving is just good client relations. And who knows - you may need to hire one of those lawyers some day.
__________________
Every man is, or hopes to be, an Idler. -- Samuel Johnson
donheff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-11-2015, 07:05 AM   #5
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
pb4uski's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Vermont & Sarasota, FL
Posts: 16,424
Quote:
Originally Posted by Culture View Post
..... Do I have any ethical (or moral) obligation to provide a "notice" to my clients before I actually stop taking assignments? I had not thought about this until my wife mentioned it this week. I do not think I will leave any clients in the lurch, as there are competent competitors in town (they are just not as good as me ).
Congratulations! I don't know about an ethical or moral obligation to notify your clients, but I think it would be common courtesy to let them know given you have decided to retire that you will decline new cases in two to six weeks. I would suggest that you call each of your regular clients and explain that you are retiring and will start not taking on new cases beginning (date you chose). Your infrequent clients you can notify with an email or a letter. That's what I would do.

In a way, it is similar to a key employee giving their employer a heads up that they are leaving.
__________________
If something cannot endure laughter.... it cannot endure.
Patience is the art of concealing your impatience.
Slow and steady wins the race.
pb4uski is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-11-2015, 07:20 AM   #6
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
donheff's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 8,643
Quote:
Originally Posted by pb4uski View Post
Congratulations! I don't know about an ethical or moral obligation to notify your clients, but I think it would be common courtesy to let them know given you have decided to retire that you will decline new cases in two to six weeks.
+1 In my comment above I forgot to mention the ethical or moral obligation. Since you accept engagements on a case by case basis and plan to meet all ongoing obligations there is no ethical obligation to give notice. What I don't understand is the reluctance to let people you have worked for/with for years know you are leaving. I have known quite a few people who sneak out from work with no discernible reason for doing so. If you can't stand your bosses or the organization or have good reason to expect that they will retaliate and toss you out the door as soon as you give notice, OK. But when you are leaving an organization where you had a positive involvement and face no negatives why be so rude?
__________________
Every man is, or hopes to be, an Idler. -- Samuel Johnson
donheff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-11-2015, 08:41 AM   #7
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Big_Hitter's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: In the fairway
Posts: 4,094
do you abide by a professional code of conduct? if so, what does it say about disengaging clients?
__________________
Swing hard, look up
Big_Hitter is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-11-2015, 09:11 AM   #8
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
MooreBonds's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: St. Louis
Posts: 2,091
Quote:
Originally Posted by Culture View Post

I will be retiring in the next two to six weeks. By retiring I mean I will stop taking new assignments and will continue to work until all my existing assignments are complete. Do I have any ethical (or moral) obligation to provide a "notice" to my clients before I actually stop taking assignments? I had not thought about this until my wife mentioned it this week. I do not think I will leave any clients in the lurch, as there are competent competitors in town (they are just not as good as me ).
+1 on what other posters said.

And if you REALLY want to leave on a high note - have a very small 'retirement party' by inviting a few of your favorite/key clients. Doesn't have to be anything fancy - maybe just a small party room at a restaurant during the week with some appetizers or light buffet. (you might be able to get great pricing during the week...). Might cost you $300-$400, but would really leave a good impression on them.
__________________
Dryer sheets Schmyer sheets
MooreBonds is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-11-2015, 09:33 AM   #9
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 616
I agree with the posters above. I don't really think of it as an "ethical" issue, but a nice professional courtesy, especially for the clients who hire you every week. Plus, even if you think it is completely unlikely that you'll ever want to resume work part time, it never hurts to maintain the relationship.
__________________
Katiek is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-11-2015, 09:51 AM   #10
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 13,272
I am also with the posters above.... the clients you have had for those many long years should get notice.... and if I were one of those clients I would want to hear it from YOU personally... I assume that you are in meetings with them to talk about what you are doing for them.... at the end just bring up that you are planning to retire in the next few weeks/months/projects...


I will throw something out... are you interested in part time IOW, you have a few clients that you really like and their projects are interesting etc... so it could be something you do for awhile...
__________________
Texas Proud is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-19-2015, 01:26 PM   #11
Recycles dryer sheets
Culture's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 491
Thanks in part to the feedback here, I decided to send a nice e-mail to all my clients letting them know that I will stop taking new assignments in six weeks, and explaining that I am retiring. The response was very positive.

I have to agree that this was a much better choice than simply telling people that I was no longer taking new work whenever they called.
__________________

__________________
Culture is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Small Business and Retirement issues jetpack FIRE and Money 4 08-05-2014 08:46 AM
An ethics question from a deep philosopher oldtrig Other topics 11 02-09-2012 04:04 PM
Question on the limits and ethics of financial liability MichaelB FIRE and Money 26 08-15-2011 02:28 PM
Ethics Question TromboneAl Other topics 28 06-20-2009 10:22 PM

 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 11:30 AM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.