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I’m an insolvency practitioner and i’m here to help you

I’m an insolvency practitioner and I’m here to help you

There is help available for business owners in dealing with a business crisis from people who are familiar with this type of situation and who possess the specific experience and skills needed. But there are differing types of help available so it is worth understanding who’s who in the world of CROs, IPs, IMs and other professionals you may encounter, some of whom work within your business and some of whom work simply as advisers.

A Chief Restructuring Officer or CRO, is a turnaround professional that management hire on a temporary basis to provide support and assistance.

A CRO’s job is firstly to help the business analyse its position, providing an experienced eye to look over how deep the crisis is, assess the options and make an informed judgement as to whether the business is salvageable.

CROs then move on to help to drive through the actions needed to deal with the situation, acting as a crisis manager to handle issues with the urgency, independence and sometimes ruthlessness required. CROs therefore need to be people who can cope with the challenges and difficulties that this implies in a professional way.

The CRO also brings to the business a body of specialist knowledge of relevant commercial and insolvency issues such as redundancy processes and wrongful trading, so helping to manage these risks.

A CRO brings their experience of dealing with not only a business in crisis, bit also their experience in keeping financial stakeholders such as banks on board supporting the turnaround. A CRO has the ability to talk to the bank and insolvency advisers their own language, so giving the business the best chance that it will receive funders’ support through its difficulties.

The help provided by a CRO is generally therefore extremely ‘hands on’ in nature. The contrast here is with the professional advisers such as the insolvency practitioner or the lawyer who, however close the relationship, do remain outside the business. The CRO sits on your side of the table at meetings and actively works on behalf of your business, often becoming part of your business by taking on the role and responsibilities of becoming a director to take charge and drive through change for the time needed to make the plan happen.

A CRO should ideally be formally accredited through the Institute for Turnaround as a turnaround professional, and may also be a member of the Turnaround Management Association. They often work alone but increasingly are operating as teams, often in conjunction with or organised through the firms who are also involved in supplying in specialists on a temporary basis known as interim managers to deal with particular functional aspects of the business (such as a temporary finance or production director) as may be required to turn the business’ performance around.

But CROs are not the only people that a business will need. As a turnaround affects all areas of the business, so the business tends to need assistance from a broad range of specialists.

If the business is in a severe crisis often formal insolvency advice will be needed at the outset by the directors from either lawyers or an insolvency practitioner (or ‘IP’) as to whether they are safe to continue trading the business. An IP will be able to advise on use of any of the business rescue procedures under the Insolvency Act such as a Company Voluntary Arrangement; will be able to help the directors in assessing the business’s position. They will also often have a strong working relationship with the bank and so may be able to to help gain bank support for a turnaround, as well as introducing or working with a turnaround professional.

Often there is a need to raise new or replacement finance to provide funds to deal with the initial crisis or to support the subsequent recovery and regrowth of the business. These funds will come from specialist asset financiers either directly or more usually through a broker who knows the market and is used to placing such business.

Legal advice is almost always required and the business will need a recovery specialist as a lead advisor who can call upon expertise within his or her firm across a wide range of areas such as insolvency and debt collection in the early stages; through key issues for restructuring a business such as employment and redundancy, as well as contractual disputes such as problem contracts; right through to corporate finance specialists if there is a need to raise new equity or arrange a sale of the business.

Interim Managers are often used as a flexible resource to meet the changing needs of a business during the different phases of a turnaround. A typical case might require significant assistance from an interim financial controller on tightening up management of its cash to survive an initial crisis. Then the business might need an operations specialist to address manufacturing issues, before then bringing in a marketing expert to provide a boost to regrowing sales, while the whole strategy is overseen by the CRO.

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