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Insolvency Practitioners 101

Published: 14th November 2019

Author: Keaton Pronk, McDonald Vague Limited

You wouldn’t pick a tradie on price alone so why would you pick an insolvency practitioner solely on this basis?

You expect your tradie to work to industry standards when working on your house or car so why wouldn’t you take the same care before you hand over control of a business to an insolvency practitioner, who will be dealing with your company, its assets, its creditors, and its stakeholders?

Not all insolvency practitioners are created equal. They have different levels of experience and qualifications, work in different size firms, and may or may not be accredited. If you appoint the wrong insolvency practitioners, it can be difficult to remove them. If it’s shortly after appointment, the company’s creditors may be able to appoint replacement insolvency practitioners at the initial creditors’ meeting. If not, it will likely involve a trip to the High Court. If the insolvency practitioner is not accredited, they will not have to answer to a disciplinary board.

You should expect your insolvency practitioner be law abiding and to deal with the company’s directors, shareholders, and creditors fairly and ethically. We have put together a handy list of what to look for, what to ask, and what to consider before engaging an insolvency practitioner.

WHAT SKILLS DO I NEED TO LOOK FOR IN AN INSOLVENCY PRACTITIONER?

Your insolvency practitioner should:
1.    Have experience in the industry the business operates in
2.    Have relevant insolvency experience, including in relation to the type of appointment you are considering and any steps you expect them to take after their appointment
3.    Be an Accredited Insolvency Practitioner, either through RITANZ or CAANZ
4.    Have sufficient resources behind them to properly carry out the appointment
5.    Have a history of making distributions to creditors

HOW DO I CHOOSE THE RIGHT INSOLVENCY PRACTITIONER?
Ask questions, and lots of them. The more information you are able to get up front the better position you will be in when it comes time to make the decision on who you should go with.

WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD I ASK AN INSOLVENCY PRACTITIONER?

(a)    Are they members of RITANZ and Accredited Insolvency Practitioners (AIPs)? Until regulation come into force in June 2020, we recommend that you only use AIPs. AIPs are required to comply with a code of conduct that dictates the professional and ethical standards they are expected to meet. The code is enforced by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand. There is a public register of AIPs on both the CAANZ and RITANZ website.

(b)    What previous relevant experience do they have? There are different types of insolvency appointments (advisory, compromises, voluntary administrations, receivership's, and liquidations). If you are looking at appointing voluntary administrators, you probably do not want to appoint someone who has never done one before.

(c)    What kind of qualifications and experience do they have within the firm? Depending on the type of post-appointment work that will be required, you may want to appoint AIPs that are chartered accounts, have legal knowledge, or are experienced in forensic accounting.

(d)    Are they Chartered Accountants, do they have a legal background, or forensic accounting skills? The appointment may determine what kind of background you should be looking for.

(e)    Do they have the resources necessary to deal with the appointment? If the business operates multiple stores across the city or the country, does the AIPs’ firm have enough staff to take on the appointment?

(f)    Do they have a history of making distributions to creditors? What level of overall fees would the AIP expect to charge on the job?

FINDING THE BEST INSOLVENCY PRACTITIONER FOR YOU

It is important that the AIPs you appoint understand your personal situation and your business’ needs so they can help achieve the best result for all parties. It is important that you take your time with this decision because you will be trusting them with the business.

McDonald Vague’s directors are AIPS and Chartered Accountants. We also have three non-director AIPs and our professional staff are members of RITANZ. McDonald Vague is also a Chartered Accounting Practice and is subject to practice review.

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