Published on 23rd August 2021
In this episode of Leaders with Ambition, Nicky talks with Paul Davis, a Partner at the corporate recovery and restructuring firm, Buchler Phillips. Paul describes his experience so far as a specialist in Insolvency and highlights pivotal points in his career that defined his success.
Also discussed is the impact of the ongoing pandemic on UK businesses and the economy and Paul's take on what this means for the insolvency market.
Key Takeaways from this episode with Paul Davis, Partner at Buchler Phillips
Paul's career as an Insolvency Practitioner
Paul has been working in the insolvency industry for over 35 years. He started out as an accountant with an audit and training firm and after qualifying Paul decided to specialise in insolvency, motivated by his cousin who worked in the same field.
Was Insolvency an intentional part of your career trajectory?
Initially, Paul was mostly working in insolvency for fun, with no particular focus on becoming a Partner. Over the years, however, he started to focus on getting as far as he could and climb the career ladder, becoming a Partner at the age of 31.
Benefits of mentorship
When starting out, Paul worked with 3 Partners who were mentors to him. Paul explains that he tried to adopt the best skills that each of them had, combining the knowledge from their different approaches to all aspects of work.
The collaborative strategy of growing the business
Collaboratively growing the business alongside other leaders has been pivotal for the success of Buchler Phillips while also building a sense of family. This helps achieve the common goal, which is to create something and have some fun while doing it. Paul shares that the company is planning to move the office to a new location, most likely in central London.
Return to work patterns following the pandemic
Currently, people are in the office on an average of four days a week, and Paul also makes himself available for meetings when necessary. The plan is to eventually move to a hybrid system of working where not everyone has to be in the office all the time, especially since all members of staff are equipped well enough to use computers and the company is electronic-based.
The younger staff in training may, however, benefit more from working in-person to learn faster together, while the more senior workers can either work from home or the office.
Paul describes personal standout moments in his career that give him fulfillment, including discovering frauds through forensic analysis, recovering lost funds, and following up as administrator, or liquidator.
Examples cited include a 12-million-pound fraud that he uncovered at the early stage of his career, and a Ponzi scheme he also recently exposed. Other aspects of his work that Paul enjoys include getting involved early with businesses in distress to turn them around using insolvency procedures, saving jobs, or selling the business if need be.
The first major setback for Paul was failing his first set of professional exams, which renewed his motivation and determination to succeed. He passed them second time round.
"You have to have a serious plan as to how you're going to achieve what you're going to achieve; you just can't leave it to chance"
Paul's take on the insolvency market
Contrary to popular expectations, insolvencies are not shooting through the roof - this is particularly due to the immense government-backed efforts aimed at giving support to businesses in this recession.
However, Paul believes that this continuous support only temporarily suppresses the expected rise in insolvencies and ultimately just postpones it to an unknown date. Proactive Directors are already getting information on how to plan for a time when the government can non longer sustain that support.
Paul's advice for future Insolvency Practitioners?
Work hard at school and get good grades, even while having fun. Have a plan and be careful which firms you join because experience is important. Be focused, learn on the job, and train hard to pass the insolvency exams.
Key quotes from this episode:
"If you just sit back and wait for it all to land in your lap, then it's not going to happen"
"My view is that if you put the effort in, you're more than likely to get the rewards that you're looking for"
"If you want a career and you want to advance, it's all about hard work"
"Technology has advanced, people have embraced the technology and perhaps we've moved faster in the last 18 months than we've moved in the last 5 years"
"You're in the driving seat; yes, there's luck along the way but you've got to make it happen"
"Sometimes failure leads to success"
"The economy is so big that I don't think you can control it by any one mechanism, there are too many outside forces"
"Just be focused about what you want out of life, have some fun along the way, and hopefully it will all come together"
About Paul Davis
Paul Davis is a Partner at Buchler Phillips, focusing on turnaround and both corporate and personal insolvency work. He undertakes both solvent liquidations and insolvent assignments, including financial and monitoring, pre-lending and solvency reviews in a wide range of businesses. Specialist sectors include construction, property, manufacturing and engineering, in addition to extensive experience in retail, leisure, hospitality and health.
Leaders with Ambition is hosted by Nicky Acuna Ocana, Managing Director of Ambition UK.
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