ICAEW.com works better with JavaScript enabled.

Do you have what it takes to be an Insolvency Practitioner?

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 26 Feb 2024

With insolvencies on the rise – a situation unlikely to change in the near future – upskilling yourself to meet burgeoning market demand for insolvency expertise could be a smart career move.

Corporate insolvencies in England and Wales rose to their highest level since 1993 last year and the outlook for 2024 isn’t much rosier. As a result, insolvency firms are on a recruitment drive as they look to support an increasing number of clients facing insolvency.

For the right finance professional, this provides a significant opportunity.

Curious to see whether branching out into insolvency could be the right fit for you? A course tutor for ICAEW’s Certificate in Insolvency (CII) and two previous students give their views on what it takes to succeed as an insolvency practitioner.

  1. A good education

    Although fundamental, the detailed workings of insolvency law are not something you’re likely to learn when being trained in-house. Charanjit Uppal, BPP Programme Manager and CII tutor, says: “I think the first thing you need is a good education. Insolvency is law based, so if you don’t know what the law is, you’re going to be at a disadvantage.”

    Uppal adds: “Firms will train you, but they tend to train you to manage cases or specific issues. You might not receive training in the wider parts of insolvency. The CII qualification will give you a broader understanding of insolvency and the bigger picture.” 

  2. Problem solving

    Being able to solve problems under pressure is an essential skill for an insolvency practitioner (IP).

    “With insolvencies, you inherit a problem and you’ve got to solve it. You’ve got so many different stakeholders who are all fighting for a piece of the pie. And you’ve got to manage that and think about what’s best in quite tricky situations,” Uppal says.

    “You need to be able to work under pressure and have good time management, but really problem solving is the key.”

  3. Objectivity

    Charlotte Evans is Deputy Official Receiver for The Insolvency Service and took the CII last year to deepen her understanding of insolvency legislation and what the IPs she liaises with do. She believes remaining objective when emotions are running high is the number one skill an IP should possess.

    “As someone who hasn’t experienced working on insolvencies in the private sector myself, and the associated challenges this brings, I would say an emphasis on objectivity and professionalism is key.

    “Our work in insolvency means we are often interacting with people and businesses at a very difficult time for them. Being able to look at things in the most balanced and objective way is crucial, and then having the skills and patience to clearly explain the most appropriate options and make robust recommendations.”

  4. Commercial awareness

    The ICAEW Certificate in Insolvency was the perfect stepping stone into insolvency for Sophie Hall, a PwC manager. The qualification built on the knowledge she had gained working on insolvency projects and fit around her employment commitments well.

    Communication and being business-minded are key attributes for practitioners, Hall believes: “IPs need strong commercial awareness and the ability to balance the legal aspects of insolvency and employment law with the best interests of creditors and stakeholders to achieve the optimal outcome.”

    “Strong communication skills are also key as it is essential to be able to relate to and empathise with stakeholders while building trust and buy-in.”

The benefits of working in insolvency

Working in insolvency can be hugely rewarding, as you are supporting people and organisations through a challenging time while putting your business experience to practical use.

“I really enjoy working in insolvency due to the varied nature of the role as no two days or projects are the same,” says Hall.

“Also, you never know what sector you will be working with next which I find energising as I am really interested in how different businesses work.”

Could it be for you?

If you think insolvency could be for you, or perhaps you’re already working in insolvency but would like to formalise and deepen your knowledge, the CII is a smart next step. You’ll learn the legal and regulatory framework of insolvency, key insolvency concepts and principles, and come to understand both personal and corporate insolvency.  

Study for the Certificate in Insolvency

The ICAEW Certificate in Insolvency is the most flexible learning programme of the UK insolvency regime.

Person sat at a desk smiling
Restructuring and insolvency conference
Restructuring and Insolvency Conference

Join us for the Restructuring and Insolvency Conference on 25-26 June 2024.

Book your place
ICAEW Community
Restructuring & Insolvency polaroid
Restructuring & Insolvency Community

Providing guidance, support and representation to insolvency practitioners.

Find out more
Restructuring and turnarounds hub

Resources to help steer businesses through restructuring or insolvency interventions.

Visit hub