Diary of an insolvency practitioner

It has been six months since I became an insolvency practitioner, whilst I have been working in insolvency and corporate recovery for 12 years, has becoming the office holder really changed anything?

The last few months were spent predominantly on solvent liquidations, but there have been other cases during this time.  It has become noticeable that HMRC are tightening up its debt management and I have seen more HMRC distraint.  As a result the last few months have seen more voluntary arrangements for me, and more cash flow management.

In the insolvency profession you have to learn at an early stage to be very flexible in your day.  Although a day can be planned, when an accountant calls to say that their client has the bailiffs at the door, you have to move quickly, dropping everything that was planned and focus instead on how to achieve the best outcome for that company.

An average week will involve attending networking events to ensure that people know what I do and where to turn if they do have difficulties as well as catching up with my referrers, mainly accountants, to ensure that they know what to look out for in their clients to ensure that they get advice as early as possible.  I have also been presenting to networking groups to highlight the need for good cashflow and how to spot the early warning signs of a cashflow problem.  Something every director and sole trader should be aware of.

As well as trying to win new work I also need to ensure that the work behind the scenes is completed.  From a back office point of view, there is a lot of statutory requirements that need to be met.  My week will involve writing reports, updating statutory diaries, chasing HMRC and generally ensuring that all cases are managed so that they are not only compliant but produce the best result for the creditors.

When dealing with a trading administration time will be spent on site, ensuring that the day to day running is being managed whilst being on hand to answer questions from suppliers and customers.  With other cases I can manage it from the back office, keeping in regular contact with the main stakeholders.

When a new case comes in I go on site to meet the directors, you can only really get an idea of what a business really does when you see it in practice.  Also meeting in their own environment will mean the directors are more comfortable and more importantly should be able to get the information needed quickly.

Diary of an insolvency practitioner

This week I spent time at with a client who is having difficulties with HMRC and wanted to ensure the company could continue to trade.  More than a year was needed to pay the debt back, so together we produced the cashflow projections for the company and now I am drafting a proposal for a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) to pay HMRC back over a few years.

As well as companies, I also help individuals that are having difficulties, usually sole traders.  Whilst the impact upon them personally is far greater, the advice and processes can be quite similar.  A sole trader had a debt with HMRC which again couldn’t be paid and therefore I assisted with drafting proposals for an Individual Voluntary Arrangement.  With any arrangement with HMRC, there is usually some time spent discussing it with HMRC and agreeing with the debtor any modifications that may be made.  This can be a challenging time, particularly if HMRC and the debtor disagree, but I will always work hard to get an arrangement approved that is agreeable by the creditors and is achievable by the debtor.

So, I think a standard week would be hard to describe because it varies so much, but it involves speaking with and meeting with a variety of people, accountants, directors and creditors.  As well as winning new work, I also manage the process to ensure that the stakeholders have the same point of reference from day one, until the matter is resolved.

Has my work changed much since taking insolvency appointments?  Not a huge amount, although there is a lot more signing and a lot more responsibility!

Nicola Layland

Insolvency Practitioner and Director at Portland