Luke Venner ACCA, Manager, Bishop Fleming
This interview was first published in the January 2015 UK edition of Accounting and Business magazine
As both an accountant and insolvency practitioner, I provide restructuring, turnaround and insolvency advice and services to underperforming and financially distressed businesses, their lenders, stakeholders and advisers. The main aim of my role is to establish the root of the problems and work collaboratively to identify if possible the best strategy for business recovery, or otherwise implement the best solution through a formal solvency or insolvency procedure.
The number one challenge for professional services firms such as Bishop Fleming is to continue to grow in an increasingly globalised business environment. Advances in technology will shape the services we offer clients in future, and the people both joining and retiring from the workplace are doing so later in their lives, which could create other logistical problems. The particular short-term issue in the restructuring, turnaround and insolvency profession is the drop in the number of businesses and individuals going through a formal insolvency process. As conditions change in the business cycle, the numbers will again increase, but the challenge is about being prepared and resourced to meet that upturn.
I’m thankful to say that I haven’t had to make any huge sacrifices or changes to get where I am today. The path that I took to qualify as both an accountant and insolvency practitioner involved studying for professional exams over an approximately six-year period. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t tough and didn’t require a lot of dedication, but the opportunities available to me now are significant.
The most satisfying and interesting experiences are those that enable you to really get behind the numbers and understand a business and develop a strategy that enables that business to continue trading and preserve jobs. One of the most appropriate strategies for an insolvent business that is facing the threat of closure - but that has a good underlying business and is able to put forward an acceptable proposal to its creditors and continue trading - is a company voluntary arrangement (CVA). I have been part of a team at Bishop Fleming that has structured a number of successful CVAs for businesses and have found that my accounting skills have proven invaluable when preparing the required detailed projections and the proposal itself.
From an academic point of view, I am very proud to have qualified as both an accountant and insolvency practitioner with first-time exam passes at a relatively young age. Prior to qualifying as an insolvency practitioner, I passed the Certificate of Proficiency Insolvency (CPI) exam as a prize winner - placed third in England and Wales - which was a particular highlight.
Fortunately for me, my studying days are over, so I am able to unwind after work and enjoy my free time.
I play football for my home town in the Carlsberg South West Peninsula League, and when I am not playing in matches or training, I am generally keeping fit at the gym.
"The most satisfying experiences are those that let you really get behind the numbers and understand a business"