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Reinvent yourself as a restructuring professional?

It’s the ultimate in countercyclical careers. Woolworths and MFI have underscored its sudden significance and the pay doesn’t seem to be too bad either. How, therefore, can a banker get in on the restructuring/administration action?

We’ve asked this question before. Last time, the results weren’t reassuring. They’re not reassuring this time, either, but we do at least have some specific answers for you.

According to Mark Fry, head of the London office of Begbies Traynor, there are two types of restructuring people: insolvency practitioners and ‘restructuring professionals’.

Fry says insolvency practioners have typically passed exams set by the Insolvency Practitioners Association (IPA). Passing IPA exams takes three years, which means anyone starting now will probably qualify in time for an economic recovery.

Restructuring, not insolvency

Fry says vacancies for generic ‘restructuring professionals’ without insolvency qualifications are more likely to appeal to current/former bankers.

These roles are all about looking at the business strategy: “Are there parts of the business that can be cut away to make it profitable again? Which areas can generate cash? Which areas can be sold on?” Fry explains.

Another restructuring specialist confirms the notion that this could very well be done by investment bankers. “You need strong experience of negotiating and getting the best for your client, as well as financial and analytical skills,” he tells us.

The bad news is that while Close Brothers and others are hiring restructuring people, there are already more than enough generic restructuring professionals to go around.

“I’ve had quite a few corporate finance CVs,” says Fry (who’s still recruiting). “We haven’t really been interested in any of them – we’re really looking for people with previous experience in the field.”

Use your contacts

So what would make Fry hire a highly qualified ex-corporate financier? He says connections might make a difference: “We’d be interested in hearing from people who can open the flow of corporate restructuring work, or people who are well connected across private equity or the hedge fund market.”

It’s also worth bearing in mind that the compensation might be up to much after all. Peter Holder, a partner at restructuring house Zolfo Cooper, says corporate financiers [who still think they’re going to get a bonus] may want to think twice about going into restructuring, however: “They’d have to cope with a big drop in pay. Our profession doesn’t pay like investment banking.”

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