Insolvency industry experts from the North of England have been drawn to County Durham for the R3 Northern Conference, coming to the North East for the first time.
And Neil Harrold, the North East chair of R3 and a partner with Hay & Kilner Solicitors, is very proud of the turnout they anticipate.
R3, which stands for Rescue, Recovery & Renewal, promotes best practice for professionals working with financially troubled individuals and businesses. “We’re quite a diverse profession. Accountant and lawyers who specialise in insolvency are the backbone, but you have everything from the big four to independent practitioners, who might specialise in corporate work or in personal insolvency.”
Over 105 delegates have pre-registered, as good as – if not better than – previous years.
“This is the sixth Northern conference that’s been held," Neil said. "For the first four years it was held near Leeds, last year in Cheshire, and this year it’s the North East’s turn to hold it.
“We thought where was a case for putting on a conference which is region-specific. We get the sessions we want, those which are relevant to our members.
“We’ve got to persuade people to spend their time and their money to come along, so it’s got to meet their needs – and hopefully we’ve done that!”
The Government, via the Insolvency Service put out a consultation last year, with the aim of improving the UK’s rankings. “The core of it is having a moratorium,” Neil said, “easily said, but complex when you think about it. There are a lot of different points of view to consider.”
The panel includes senior bankers, a restructuring practitioner – who deals with distressed businesses – a turnaround funder, a regulator from the Insolvency Service and a pension protection specialist. “We think we’ll have a lively discussion, with different points of view,” Neil adds.
Alongside technical updates, the conference will also see presentations from outside speakers on a range of wider business matters, Atom Bank plc's head of business development Graham Moore and Kevin Dolan, senior case manager with the Pension Protection Fund.
The Bank of England’s Mauricio Armellini will also attend to give an update on the economic outlook for the UK, and an update to the Insolvency Act means some technical training will bring skills up to date.
Neil, an Australian native who has lived in the UK since 1993, is very proud to be bringing this delegation to Durham: “The Ramside Hall Hotel is a great venue, and it’s nice to have a suitable venue in the North East… they’ve invested a lot into the hotel and the other facilities, so it’s the equal of anything you’d find in any other region.”
The most recent research carried out by R3 into the economic impact of the insolvency profession found that, out of approximately 4,995 businesses across the North East, North West, Yorkshire and Humberside which entered a formal insolvency procedure in 2013/14, 2,070 (41%) were rescued and around 92,135 jobs saved.
And Neil’s message to the business community about the work they do is clear. “We’d encourage businesses to look for help at the earliest opportunity. Some of the jobs we do never become negative statistics, because we work with them through their troubles and they get back to becoming a success story; and the wider community is none the wiser.”