Whether it is due to a modest increase in work or people moving up the organisation, gradually filling the management positions vacated through significant redundancies over the last 4 years, there is a slight increase in demand for experienced case administrators. But with a stop on recruiting trainees over the same period, where are we going to find these administrators?
Yes there is some activity towards the bottom end of the hierarchy, as I predicted some time ago, but the activity isn’t at the base of the pyramid. IPs are asking for experienced candidates, usually with 1-4 years’ experience, but with a ban on taking on trainees whilst redundancies were being made we haven’t had many new recruits coming through. Most experienced administrators now have 5 years plus under their belts and so want to move to more up to more senior roles. Beneath them are few administrators who can fill the current gap.
I have recruited graduate trainees for some of the larger firms but with the occasional exception this was stopped and hasn’t resurfaced yet.
So where are the IPs of the future coming from?
At the moment nobody seems to know and the assumption must be that those who are in the system will eventually prove themselves as IPs. Given that there are far more JIEB qualified insolvency candidates than IP roles, that line of thinking is probably not likely to create a gap at the top. I have been a strong advocate of rationalisation for a long time so fewer IPs is arguably what we need.
However, not taking on new recruits and training them up not only creates a skills gap at the bottom end but deters the quality candidates from entering the profession. It is these candidates who should be the leaders of the insolvency profession over the next 25 years. So our desire to avoid the additional cost of taking on new trainees and the hassle of training raw recruits also stifles the profession of new ideas and skills that will be needed in the future.
I am constantly approached by really good candidates some of whom would be a great asset to an insolvency practice but are forced into other professions. It’s our loss!
The other area of activity at the moment is at manager level. This is where cuts have been made in the last few years, so why is there a desire to recruit at manager level again? Very simply the interest at this level is very much focussed on candidates with a mix of formal and advisory skills as firms strategically move away from traditional insolvency into advisory work.
But there is one big problem with this strategic move. The profession has pigeon holed staff for many years into skilling to provide a very limited range of skills. So finding people with strong advisory skills as well as formal skills is extremely difficult. We stopped making good all-rounders years ago and now we are paying the price!
As a profession we must fundamentally change our way of running our businesses. We must go back to training our staff with a variety of skills to enable them to adapt to the needs of the business. This will not only improve the efficiency of your business but also give the client the service he needs. How can someone who specialises in one narrow field sensibly advise a director or creditor if they don’t have a broad range of knowledge of advising businesses to avoid insolvency and all the insolvency angles if all else fails?
And before I forget, work winners are craved by many IPs yet we don’t encourage good insolvency staff to develop in this area. Networking with lawyers and agents doesn’t count! Tap into the skills that your team may have but which may be being stifled by the way you work.
So folks it’s up to you. Do you want an insolvency factory environment or a true profession?
My suggested resolutions for 2016 are therefore:
- Recruit quality raw talent to provide succession, bring new ideas and mould them to be good all-round professionals
- Broaden your horizons and think outside of traditional insolvency
- Tap into your existing staff and train them in a broader range of skills
- Motivate your staff and instil business development into everything everyone in your organisation does. If you can’t successfully sell your services you go out of business. Everyone has an important part to play in growing the business
- Don’t be too proud not to consider rationalisation as a way forward
Finally, I’m more than happy to provide advice to insolvency practices, whether that is a brief overview or ongoing relationship. I’ve spent years on the inside and sometimes a view from the outside can help steer you in the right direction. So contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org