#BeAnAwesome: Insolvency Advisor

Mok Chew Yin, Executive Director of Advisory and Head of Insolvency at BDO talks to coursesmalaysia.com. Insolvency advisors rescue businesses by surveying the financial status of companies and coming up with solutions and plans to help these organisations get back on their feet.
Mok Chew Yin
Executive Director of Advisory and Head of Insolvency at BDO
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Legal knowledge is crucial in insolvency. For a head start in your career, obtain an accounting degree or better yet, a double degree in law and accounting from a reputable university. Although it is possible to jump into advisory from the outset, fresh graduates are advised to spend a minimum of 18 months to three years in audit to sharpen their technical skills. 

Commercial experience outside an accounting firm is an added advantage as it allows you to understand the ins and outs of business and learn to deal with people from different backgrounds. Most importantly, have passion for what you do. A good attitude and the willingness to learn will take you far.

What will I do?

Insolvency occurs when a company is in deep financial trouble and does not have enough funds to repay its loans or continue operations. When a company is facing insolvency, insolvency advisors may be appointed to assist it to revive its business. 

The insolvency advisors will review the current status of the company including its financial position, performance, projections and cashflows, and will formulate a restructuring plan to save the company and make it viable or put it on a stronger footing for future growth.

The restructuring plan may include proposals to improve the financial performance, position and cashflow of the company eg closing unprofitable businesses, reducing excess manpower, improving working capital management, selling surplus assets and cutting unnecessary costs. 

The insolvency advisor is normally involved in negotiating with the major stakeholders of the company to obtain their support for the restructuring plan. Such stakeholders may include different kinds of creditors and shareholders, all of whom have different rights and therefore have to be dealt with differently.

Once the restructuring plan is approved, the insolvency advisor will normally assist in the implementation of the plan. If the company's business is not viable and/or the plan is not approved, insolvency practitioners may act as receivers and managers or liquidators of the company.

At the beginning of your career, you will work with teams on a project-by-project basis. The bulk of your work will be in compiling and reviewing data and providing recommendations. As you move up the ranks, you will oversee projects - sometimes a few at once - and propose the best recommendations to the clients or stakeholders.

Specialisations

  • Corporate restructuring
  • Monitoring accountants
  • Receivership
  • Liquidation.

Is it for me?

Before poking your head into insolvency, it is good to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I ambitious?
  • Am I meticulous and good with numbers?
  • Can I learn and adapt quickly? 
  • Do I enjoy analysing and solving problems?
  • Do I enjoy meeting people?
  • Do I have good written and verbal communication skills?
  • Do I have the ability to think on my feet?
  • Do I like to be challenged?

What are the best bits?

One thing's for sure - it's never boring. You will get to meet various people from different fields and learn a lot about business and legal aspects. The field has a very steep learning curve and you will be thrown into the deep end from the start. The knowledge and exposure that you gain will open up many doors in your self-development and career opportunities.

Who will employ me?

You will most likely start off at a local or international audit and accounting firm. Major professional accounting firms hire fresh graduates through systematic and often rigorous recruitment processes involving various stages of interviews and testing.

Experienced insolvency advisors with good reputations can work for any organisation and even branch out on their own.

How much will I earn?

Most top accounting firms offer a minimum starting salary of about RM2,500 per month. Outstanding fresh graduates with excellent academic results and personal track records may be offered more if they perform well during the interview.