The case for choosing insolvency as a career

I didn’t start out with a burning desire to become an insolvency professional.

In fact, I was headed down a very different path and entered the insolvency game rather by accident when the accounting firm where I worked as an auditor “loaned” me to an insolvency group. This not only opened my eyes to the ins and outs of insolvency, but also changed the course of my career for the better.

Whether you are a recent business school grad trying to figure out your next step, or an undergraduate setting out your long-term professional goals, now is the perfect time to think about the field you want to pursue. And if you’ve never considered insolvency as a career path, let me tell you a bit more about why you should.

Insolvency professionals can help save businesses from bankruptcy

I graduated from university with a business degree, and subsequently obtained my Chartered Accountant (now Chartered Professional Accountant) designation. While I gained considerable business experience working as an auditor, I realized that auditing is a “backwards” looking function, concerned primarily with producing accurate financial statements to represent transactions that have already occurred.

Insolvency, on the other hand, is entirely focused on the future. Interestingly enough, in many cases, it actually involves counseling against declaring bankruptcy!

I remember one of my first assignments, where I was working with a very well-known clothing retailer. The company was losing money, and the bank was threatening to call their loan and force the retailer to repay it. My boss and I used our accounting expertise to review the company’s financial records, but we also used our personal and business skills to meet with management and tour the premises to review operations. We soon realized that the company made a great product, and had a great team, but was also making some obvious business mistakes.

They were carrying far more inventory than was needed, but the owner didn’t want to “harm the brand” by holding a blowout sale. We convinced him that having a ten-year supply of some products in inventory was placing his company at risk, so he reluctantly agreed to the sale, and it ended up being a huge success.

Today, that company is very successful, and a significant source of their profits comes from their twice-annual inventory clearance sales. By taking our advice and opting to close out his inventory surplus, the owner was able to avoid having to close out his entire business.

Helping individuals chart their future, post-insolvency

As an insolvency practitioner I take great pride in working with companies to turn around their operations, helping save both the company and the jobs of its employees. But in the insolvency field, working with companies isn’t your only option.

Over the last 20 years, I have shifted my focus from the corporate realm to working with individuals in financial trouble. As personal debt levels remain at or near record highs, there are many people who need guidance and a plan to deal with their debts. In many cases, budgeting advice and reducing expenses can solve the problem. For others, a personal bankruptcy or consumer proposal filing is required, and once the process is completed the vast majority of the people we help are very appreciative of our efforts.

And that’s something else that has been so professionally fulfilling—getting to work with more than just the facts and figures of a situation. By interacting with the people themselves in addition to their numbers, I have an opportunity to draw on other skills to help them. Every day I’m listening, thinking creatively, problem-solving, and taking the big picture of tomorrow into account rather than just using the immediate past or present as the sole guiding factor to determine a course of action.

So if you are looking for a way to earn a good living while simultaneously helping people better themselves financially, insolvency is a great career path to explore.

Douglas Hoyes

Doug Hoyes has extensive experience resolving financial issues for Canadian citizens. He is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), Licensed Trustee and Chartered Insolvency and Restructuring Professional and Business Valuator. He regularly comments on a variety of TV, radio and other media outlets on topics surrounding bankruptcy and consumer proposals. He also writes a column for Huffington Post. Hoyes has previously held roles at PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG as a CPA. He testified before the Canadian Senate’s Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee in 2008. Hoyes has been serving as an OSB (Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy) Oral Board Examiner since 2013.

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