About Paul

Why you should speak to me before anyone else to discuss your company or personal financial issues…….

Paul AustinI’m Paul Austin. For fifteen years I worked as administrator and Manager of the Chester office of one of the UK’s largest Insolvency Practitioners until my recent retirement. I still act in a consultancy capacity for the company that used to employ me. During that time and in my career previously I’ve seen almost every insolvency situation imaginable, both corporate and personal; I’ve been involved in high profile and sensitive insolvency situations, working with company accountants, solicitors, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and dealing with creditors (both benign and aggressive). But that’s not the only reason you should speak to me, not by a long way. Some snippets from my CV……

During the late seventies I founded and later became CEO of a financial services company delivering financial advice to expats in the Middle East. I sold the company to a major British insurer, ensuring profit for all shareholders.

Since 1986 I’ve been involved in Insolvency, initially as a freelance consultant In the eighties: I and my barrister trained colleague placed ourselves at the sharp end of insolvency, liaising with and advising companies directly to ensure their survival. A few of my achievements have been…..

Keeping a household name major pottery company based in Stoke-On-Trent trading, in order to facilitate a sale of the business.

Advising and overseeing (as interim Chairman) a cash and carry PLC during a period of sale and purchase transition.

Advising a principal creditor and non-executive high profile director of options upon the voluntary liquidation of a company in which he had conflicting interests, this involved advising him of the liquidator’s possible and probable course of action throughout the liquidation and recommendations on how he could indemnify himself against possible repercussions.

At least as important, but on the downside……

In the nineties I was involved in the protection of a food manufacturing Limited Company which was under severe pressure from a high profile creditor. A number of thinly disguised improper tactics were utilised by the representatives of the creditor, resulting in myself and others appearing in Crown Court.   12 specimen charges were levied against me including fraud, facilitation, money laundering and theft. I assembled one of the most experienced and effective legal teams in North Wales at that time,  the lead ‘silk’ who subsequently went on to represent highly publicised cases at Central Criminal Court and elsewhere. No jury was sworn and after 3 weeks of legal argument and submissions I walked away from all charges.  The petitioning creditor later entered an insolvency proceeding itself; questions were raised by the trial judge as to the conduct of the entire matter, reflecting adversely upon the plaintiff’s solicitors, the CPS and the investigating officers.
I write these things not for my own aggrandisement but to illustrate to you that I am not an Insolvency academic. I have been ‘in the trenches’ and on the front line. I don’t presently believe that there is a position which I have not experienced, from all sides of the insolvency ‘spectrum’.

What can you do if faced with a potentially Insolvent situation?

‘Speak to my accountant.’
There are two type of accountant….

1.        The pro-active, progressive practice. They aren’t concerned whether you’ve paid your PAYE or VAT on time this month, they are active business professionals who will advise upon tax mitigation, business management, moving the business forward OR , if a difficult position presents itself, jumping in and ensuring that you receive the best possible opinion and advice on how to extract yourself and the company. If you have one of these, congratulations. They won’t be cheap but you’ll fare a lot better in the long term.

2.         I call this type the HMRC ‘gatekeeper’.   They’ll do your PAYE/NIC monthly, compile and file your corporation tax return (without comment) and present you with a bill at the year end, (or monthly). When asked for advice they usually reply, ‘What do you want me to do? They probably don’t cost a lot.

Dependence upon your accountant type (1 or2) will determine who you look to for opinion or advice and the sort of advice you’ll get.

‘My solicitor will help me……’

Really? There are a number of solicitors who are also licensed Insolvency Practitioners, (they don’t hold office however).  Getting hold of one could be difficult, having found one he or she will give a competent opinion on your situation, given all the facts of the case, entirely dependant upon insolvency legislation at that time. Does that solve your problem? Probably not. I’ve known of many situations where, having received opinion, the directors are as further in the dark as they were previously, but only now they know a little bit more about Insolvency Law, (at a cost of the solicitors commensurate hourly rate).

A lot of websites out there who are Insolvency ‘professionals’…….

I see. ‘Call one of our experienced consultants now on 08000 0845000000…….. Err, you won’t get one straightaway. As you may be aware, your details will be taken by a telephone call centre operator, analysed with a view to ‘how much could be available in fees’ (and how quickly). Eventually you might get a call. In fairness, there are a few sites which do have Licensed Insolvency Practitioners on their books, getting to speak to one however is another matter. What they want is liquidations or IVA’s as quickly as possible; they will certainly pitch their presentations to you with those aims in mind, (which might not necessarily be yours or your companies).
One thing you should know straightaway. The administrator appointed to run your company affairs is not your pal. The liquidator who handles your liquidation isn’t your mate. Both have duties which do not include your welfare in their respective protocols. That’s as it should be. Both regimes are creditor driven; the practitioner isn’t going to risk his licence (obtained over several years of study, formal examination and qualifying time service) cutting corners to protect you or your fellow directors.

SO…….You might want to talk to me before embarking upon any of the above. One thing I have learned. The small unenforced errors that directors make in the running of their companies come back to haunt them once formal Insolvency proceedings commence; these cannot be undone and someone should be on hand BEFORE ALL THIS HAPPENS to give opinion and assist where possible. That could well be me.

Before I go, what about fees? Well my first consultation is free; thereafter whatever we decide is usually at an hourly rate. Don’t worry; it won’t be a fraction of what will be charged once the insolvency process kicks off.

That’s enough from me. How about you?
I’m available on the phone, it is never off and only I answer it. Or you can fill out the form on the contact page.