I periodically speak to credit and collection professionals who are heading towards retirement and wondering, “What do I do now with my life?”

For starters, the longer we credit professionals work in our field, the deeper and more diverse our expertise becomes. Off the top of my head, many of the areas we’ve been exposed to on various levels include:

  • Accounting & Financial Statement Analysis
  • Tax Codes
  • Business Law
  • Import / Export Regulations
  • Psychology & Human Relations (a must to perform debt collection)
  • Insurance
  • Securities
  • Technology
  • Operation Rationalization

Then, depending upon the specific industry we’ve worked in, we’ve had to become quite familiar with supply chains, manufacturing, logistics, and distribution. 

Simply put, to be really top notch in our profession, we have to know a lot about a lot. 

And with all of this knowledge and expertise, the good news is that there is a Board of Directors at an organization somewhere that would love to have an extra mind giving them great advice and insights on a wide range of challenges — especially with unique credit risk management perspectives. 

If after retirement you’re looking to leverage that valuable credit risk management experience, you may be wondering, how does one go about becoming a member of the Board of Directors? 

Let me start out by saying there are two major categories of Board of Directors: Ones at Non-profit and others at For-profit organizations. Allow me to focus on non-profit organizations as one way to take advantage of all that expertise you’ve acquired over the decades. 

Generally speaking, non-profit organizations, especially smaller charitable entities, are often on the lookout for board members with a wide range of skills who can contribute to its smooth operation, forge and manage community relations, and perform some fundraising. 

Most people who end up in nonprofit board roles, do so as a natural extension of their involvement with an organization they care about, or because they’re passionate about a particular cause.

But serving on a nonprofit board is different from simply being a volunteer. So, before looking for a board role, here are a few questions to consider:

1.  Do your goals align with this particular organization and its board? Knowing who else is on the board can give you a sense of whether you’d also be a good fit.

2. Will your skills, experience or expertise help impact the organization and further its mission? The best board roles are ones that give you the opportunity to be engaged in a meaningful way.

3. Can you commit the time required to fulfill your legal and/or fiduciary responsibilities as a board member? It’s vital that as a board member, you understand what is expected before you sign on.

If you don’t know of any local nonprofits looking for board members, visit sites like Boardsource.org, Bridgespan.org and Volunteermatch.org as well as the big sites like LinkedIn.com to search for some. Once you find the organization, there may be a portal in their site about how to apply to be on the board. Or perhaps, reach out to board members at the organization that you may find on LinkedIn and explain your interest.

The big drawback, especially if you’re in need of being compensated, is that being on the board of a non-profit organization is usually a non-compensated position. At least initially. That is, the vast majority of nonprofit board members serve on a voluntary basis.

Furthermore, they are frequently expected, and sometimes required, to make annual financial donations to the organization. It’s also not unusual for board members to be asked to help solicit for more board members.

However, many times, the board member can be compensated depending upon their level of contribution. In addition, it’s possible the board member may actually transition to a compensated role within the organization’s executive team. There could be several kinds of opportunities that arise, but like everything, it takes time and a commitment in which a great deal of care for the organization has been demonstrated. 

Above all, being on the board of an organization that you fully support can give you a sense of still being a productive and constructive member of society after retirement. Hopefully this will fulfill you with a sense of pride and enjoyment for many years to come. 

Your thoughts and comments (nseiverd@cmiweb.com) are most welcome!

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