Alison Curry appointed to Insolvency Rules Committee

Insolvency Rules Committee Alison Curry

Insolvency Support Services is delighted that our director Alison Curry has been appointed as accountant member of the Insolvency Rules Committee by the Lord Chancellor, in consultation with the Chancellor of the High Court (on behalf of the Lord Chief Justice).

The Insolvency Rules Committee (IRC) is an expert body that advises on proposed new and amendments to insolvency rules that underpin the wider insolvency legislative framework. Drawn from the legal and accountancy professions, IRC members have many years’ operational experience in insolvency matters. Alison will take up her position on the committee on 1 August 2021.

A licensed insolvency practitioner, and accomplished trainer and public speaker on insolvency issues, Alison has an enviable reputation as a provider of risk management and regulatory compliance consultancy services to insolvency professionals across the UK.

She is a member of R3’s National Council, a participant in the LexisNexis panel of insolvency experts and has extensive experience in drafting regulatory guidance, project management and delivery, and the implementation of organisational change.

Anti-Money Laundering 2021: An essential update for insolvency professionals

Anti-money laundering training












Everyone working in the insolvency profession must be made aware of the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) legislation and of situations which may present heightened risks of money laundering or terrorist financing activity.

Not only is it a legal requirement to receive appropriate training in these areas, your training should be refreshed annually in order to protect yourself and your firm from possible exploitation as a professional enabler.

Written specifically for insolvency professionals by a licensed practitioner with over 25 years’ experience, this training provides useful and practical information to assist you in countering the AML risks that insolvency practitioners face in their daily work.

CPD Learning Outcomes

In this vital annual update on the UK’s anti-money laundering regime, we focus on pitfalls around Customer Due Diligence for insolvency practitioners, the heightened AML risks we face as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic and refresh your knowledge of the possible offences that can be unwittingly committed under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

With billions of pounds having been expended in supporting UK businesses by HM Treasury, this training will examine what this may mean in terms of your Suspicious Activity Reporting obligations and keep you abreast of the latest guidance from AML Supervisors and the National Crime Agency.


Single Individual £75 + VAT

5 person package £200 + VAT

20 person package £700 + VAT

50 person package £1,500 + VAT
(For package bookings, please email to book)

IPA Members can receive a 10% discount on booking, quoting the code: IPA10 at the time of booking.

For groups in excess of 50 persons, please contact to discuss your requirements and for a quotation.

Our packages are flexible and last for 6 months from purchase. It is not necessary for all of the participants within a package to be enrolled on the course at the same time, so if you expect to recruit additional personnel over the coming months, this training can be made available to them at a later date.

Book Your Place

Book online


Call: 0845 601 7570

Benefits of ISS Online Learning

Flexible participation at a time convenient to both the participant and their employers

Your staff will receive up to 3 months to complete their training, though we can shorten this period at your request.

Accessible delivery
ISS Online Learning utilises the ISS Moodle School, a trusted and widely-used virtual learning environment which is accessible via desktop and mobile devices, 24/7.

Supporting materials for future reference
Our training is accompanied by pdf copies of the slide presentations and guidance materials that you can retain for future reference.

Knowledge checking to reinforce learning
The mandatory course knowledge check means that you can be assured that team members have properly assimilated their training, so you can feel confident that positive learning outcomes have been achieved.

Certification to evidence individual participation
Individual certification enables you to demonstrate the provision of appropriate training to your AML Supervisor, should you be called upon to do so.

Provision of metrics to employers
We can help you to keep track of your team’s progress by providing metrics on participation and completion activity at agreed intervals and send reminders to staff at agreed intervals.


Welcome back to Jenny Penman

Jenny Penman has recently re-joined the Insolvency Support Services team as Training and Compliance Manager. She will primarily be responsible for ensuring that our suite of document packs and checklists as well as training materials are all updated as and when legislation changes or when professional guidance and ethical practices dictate.

Jenny started her journey through the insolvency profession in the early 1990s and has worked at various professional firms since then, including two of the Big 4. Throughout the years she has gained extensive experience in both corporate and personal insolvency.

Her spare time is either spent in her sewing room, walking her dog or on the golf course.

Research Report: COVID-19’s Impact on the UK Insolvency and Restructuring Profession

Against the backdrop of COVID-19, and a requirement that everyone work from home if possible, the University of Glasgow and Insolvency Support Services conducted the second part of a two-part survey among a representative sample of the UK insolvency profession in April 2021.

Our second survey focused upon the challenges presented by lockdown to working practices, how firms have responded, the differential impacts of lockdown on different groups of people and what the future might look like for the insolvency profession and ways of working.

Read the full research report, with all the findings and our commentary.

The impact of COVID-19 and lockdown on working hours

Lockdown has had an impact on just over half (55%) of respondents’ working hours, with 39% working more hours and 16% working fewer hours than before lockdown (Figure 1), with a higher proportion of female respondents (48%) working longer hours compared with male respondents (33%).

Figure 1: Which of the following best describes your working hours since lockdown began in March 2020?

% respondents

For those aged between 18 and 44, an increase in working hours is the most popular response (57%), whereas for those aged 45+, it is for working hours to remain unchanged (47%).

For those working longer hours, the primary reason (indicated by 68% of these respondents) is the additional time taken to complete work remotely (Figure 2).  Other reasons cited for the increase are difficulties in separating work from personal life (52%); a substitution effect between travel time and work time (48%); an increase in administrative workload (48%); an increase in case load or new work (35%); and increased responsibilities (19%). Just over one quarter (26%) of respondents face an increased workload due to colleagues being furloughed.

Figure 2: Which of the following explain why you have been working more hours?

% respondents

Of those reporting working longer hours, significant differences are cited by female and male respondents. Specifically, 81% of female respondents are taking longer to complete work remotely, compared with 53% of male respondents; 63% of females are facing an increase in administrative work tasks compared with 33% of males; and 69% of females are struggling to separate work and home boundaries, compared with 33% of males.

Of those working fewer hours, the primary reason is a decrease in case load or new work (indicated by 59% of these respondents). Other reasons are a decrease in travel time (41%); increased efficiency due to remote working (29%) and a decrease in administrative tasks (12%). Only 12% of respondents working fewer hours appear to have substituted working hours for childcare, home-schooling or caring responsibilities.

The impact of COVID-19 and lockdown on working practices

Overall employers appear to have responded well. 87% of respondents agree or strongly agree their firm has provided the necessary support, and 77% of respondents are able to undertake their work to the same extent as pre-lockdown, with IT resources and capability supporting home-remote working. Indeed 71% of respondents agree or strongly agree that the pandemic has accelerated their firm’s adoption of digital technology.

A wide range of responses are offered regarding the most challenging aspect of home or remote working. A significant number comment that a key challenge is not having access to printers and scanners or hard copy case files. Reading large amounts of text on screen, reviewing of work and collating multiple documents present real challenges to insolvency professionals. Thus, despite greater use of electronic platforms generally, the insolvency profession still appears to place value on hard copy documentation.

Remote supervision and management of staff is a commonly cited challenge. This includes overseeing colleagues’ workload to ensure fair sharing, managing pastoral and disciplinary matters, supervising junior staff members and motivating staff. Perhaps linked to this response, a significant number of respondents also note difficulties in delivering online training and one junior respondent suggested that not sharing an office with more senior colleagues resulted in work taking longer for them to complete and potentially discouraged the asking of questions. Unsurprisingly, networking and building relations with new clients are cited as key challenges of remote working.

The effects of childcare, home-schooling and caring responsibilities

45% of respondents have additional childcare, home-schooling or caring responsibilities as a consequence of lockdown.  A higher proportion of females report additional responsibilities compared with males. In terms of age, a higher proportion (77%) of those aged between 35-44 report additional responsibilities than other age categories.

For those with additional caring responsibilities, the time consumed by these activities is significant (Figure 3). 81% of respondents are spending more than an hour each day, with 23% spending upwards of 4 hours per day. 65% of female respondents who report additional childcare, home-schooling or caring responsibilities are spending more than 2 hour per day, compared with only 28% of males.

Figure 3: On average how much time per day have additional childcare, home-schooling, and/or caring responsibilities taken up?

% respondents with additional childcare, home-schooling, and/or caring responsibilities

Coupled with our earlier findings on working hours and practices, the lockdown is clearly having a negative and differential impact on work-life balance for many professionals, and females in particular, whether that is in terms of longer working hours, significant time devoted to childcare and caring responsibilities or a combination of both. We cannot make inferences between our findings on working hours, practices and additional childcare or caring responsibilities and career progression. However, it is interesting to note that one quarter of respondents feel that the pandemic has had a negative impact on their career prospects. More female respondents (27%) report a negative impact than male respondents (18%).

Going back to the office

A significant majority (65%) of respondents say they are looking forward to returning to an office environment, and all these respondents are looking forward to face-to-face interactions with colleagues and clients (Figure 4). Virtual social interaction is no substitute for ‘real’.  Consolidating this view, 67% of these respondents are looking forward to ‘general banter’.

Figure 4: What are you looking forward to about returning to an office environment?

% respondents who are looking forward to returning to an office environment

However, the importance of face-to-face interaction is not purely social. Respondents underline the manner in which ‘solutions’ may be generated from such interaction and the “ability to bounce ideas around”. As one respondent comments: “communication is so much better when it is face to face. In a small office you can hear the problems as they develop rather than find out they have occurred a number of days, weeks or months later.”  Several respondents make reference to the ability to reach a quick resolution of an issue through instant or more timely interactions with colleagues in an office environment and the frustrations of not being able to do this in the current remote working environment.

73% of respondents looking forward to a return to the office indicate greater separation of work from personal life as an important factor. A higher proportion (81%) of female respondents selected this option, which ties in with our earlier findings on additional childcare and caring responsibilities. Analysis of our findings by age shows that those under 45 are more likely to select after-work socialising as a reason for returning to the office than their older colleagues.

Interestingly, 1 in 5 respondents (20%) is not looking forward to a return to the office, and 15% do not anticipate returning to the office.

Future working practices

Our survey found a high level of agreement that greater home or remote working (84%) and greater flexibility around working hours (73%) is likely in the future (Figure 5). Office re-design (53%) and a reduction in physical office capacity (48%) are likely, with the majority of respondents (70%) indicating it is unlikely there will be a return to pre-COVID working practices.

Figure 5: To what extent do you agree with the following statements about likely future working practices within your current organisation?

% respondents

In terms of which working practices professionals would like to see retained, the most popular is greater use of virtual meetings (79%), closely followed by increased opportunities to work from home or remotely (71%) and greater flexibility around working hours (68%). 64% of respondents would also like to see less travel time. A higher proportion of women would prefer greater flexibility around working hours to be retained (73% compared with 62% of men).

The market for professional services

Market provision of insolvency services is undergoing a period of structural change, with the separation of insolvency and restructuring service lines from audit, business advisory and tax, and recent merger and acquisition activity.

37% of respondents consider that reduced margins, and 49% that reduced recoveries, will be a significant or very significant threat to the profession in the future. 21% of respondents indicate that lack of finance is considered a significant or very significant threat to the profession, with one respondent commenting that, “there is likely to be a delay in the upturn expected in insolvencies until late 2021/ March 2022 which may be difficult to manage for boutique firms”.

Our survey findings reflect a view among practitioners that the market for professional services is competitive.  Ultimately the effects of consolidation and increasing firm size and capacity on competition in the market is an empirical issue, including the effect on insolvency practitioner fees and other direct costs of insolvency processes.  Perhaps that should be Survey 3!

Read the full research report, with all the findings and our commentary.
If you have any questions about this research, please contact us.

Our report on the findings of our first research survey on Current Policy Issues and Challenges in Insolvency and Restructuring is also available to download.


Alison Curry to speak at Vulnerability Summit

Insolvency Support Services’ director Alison Curry is set to join an impressive line-up of speakers at Credit Strategy’s Vulnerability Summit later this month.

With vulnerability awareness high on the political agenda and businesses coming under increasing pressure to address vulnerability in their strategies to support their teams, customers and suppliers, the conference aims to equip delegates with the knowledge and practical strategies needed to address vulnerability across their operations.

Along with Sam Roberts, Policy Lead at The Insolvency Service, Alison Curry will discuss the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on personal insolvency, consider predictions for personal insolvency uptake in 2021 and outline the preparations that businesses need to make.

The digital broadcast event will take place from 18 to 20 May. To book your place, visit Credit Strategy’s Vulnerability Summit website.

ISS Training’s Vulnerability Awareness online learning module

Financial Conduct Authority Guidance for firms on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers states that firms should make sure that all staff, in particular those who operate at the frontline, have the appropriate skills and capability to treat vulnerable customers fairly. ISS Training’s Vulnerability Awareness online learning module addresses that requirement.

A research update on corporate insolvency policy and an opportunity to share your views on COVID-19’s impact on the insolvency and restructuring profession

Recognising the pace of regulatory developments within insolvency amidst a global pandemic and lockdown restrictions, researchers at the University of Glasgow and Insolvency Support Services teamed up to conduct survey-based research across the UK-wide insolvency profession. Our first survey, issued in December 2020, focused upon specific corporate insolvency policy areas and the effects of COVID-19 on business. Our second survey explores issues relating to the insolvency profession, including career and practice management.

Amongst our most significant results from survey one, respondents anticipate that several factors are likely to trigger a rise in corporate insolvency case numbers this year. These include the phasing out of the furlough scheme; continuation of COVID-19 restrictions; repayment demands for deferred VAT, CBILS and BBLs; removal of restrictions on the use of statutory demands and winding-up petitions; and even business leaders’ exhaustion (Figure 1).

Figure 1
In your opinion, how likely are the following factors to trigger directors to seek assistance and/or creditors to take action (assuming the COVID-19 restrictions are repealed)?

Triggers for corporate insolvency 2021

% respondents

According to global World Bank rankings, the UK corporate insolvency regime is currently ranked 14th. Although World Bank rankings are derived from a hypothetical case study, they do take into consideration the potential for rehabilitation and rescue options for distressed but essentially viable businesses. Of particular interest here, 64% of respondents in survey one consider that prospects for rescue within formal insolvency will decrease because of HMRC’s return to preferential status and further, only 1% of respondents believe HMRC is fully prepared for the increased level of engagement with the insolvency profession that is expected from being a preferential creditor (Figure 2). Together with the wide range of likely triggers identified by our survey results, the effects of COVID-19 will test the UK framework in real terms, and in particular, its ability to rescue businesses.

Figure 2
Do you think that HMRC is adequately prepared for the increased level of engagement with insolvency professionals that the return to preferential status will bring?

% respondents (%s do not add to 100% due to rounding)

With activity levels for insolvency professionals likely to increase in the short term, the profession will have to manage this increased and challenging workload alongside their own practice management issues. How well the insolvency profession manages creditor and public expectations will have an impact on the reputation and degree of trust in the profession. ‘Remote’ or ‘home’ working has become the norm for many of us, but without the necessary research and planning typically attached to such significant organisational change. Anecdotal and media sources suggest that some form of home-working and/or flexible working practices may persist into the future. Recognising the anticipated rise in workload and increased professional scrutiny, our second survey explores some of the key issues surrounding practice management, including staff resourcing and recruitment, technological resources, adaptability, and potential threats to the profession.

According to the latest statistics published by the Insolvency Service, there are just over 1,500 IPs in the UK, now licensed and authorised by four RPBs. The precise size of the wider insolvency profession is unknown, but statistics published by R3 in 2013-14 suggest around 12,000 people work in the profession. Although a relatively small profession, the regulation of insolvency practitioners continues to attract considerable political attention. Governmental regulatory review of the profession is underway, including the potential for a single insolvency regulator. The need to capture the opinions of the insolvency profession at this time is arguably critical. According to our survey one results, just under half of respondents (49%) support a single regulator, 34% do not and 16% either don’t know or have no opinion (Figure 3). We also find that of respondents in favour of a single regulator, 50% would prefer a new entity to be established.

Figure 3
Do you support the introduction of a Single Regulator?

% respondents (%s do not add to 100% due to rounding)

Our survey one respondent profile also confirms some measures of ‘heterogeneity’ within the insolvency profession, in terms of the size and type of organisation where insolvency professionals work. 67% of respondents work within specialist insolvency and restructuring firms and accounting practices (or professional services firms), but we also find significant numbers working in law practices, within academia and at the professional or regulatory bodies. In survey two, we explore this diversity further by considering how lockdown restrictions have impacted upon individual working practices (recognising the differential impacts of lockdown upon those with caring responsibilities and therefore potentially across gender and age categories, as well as across size and type of workplace setting) and career management across what appears to be a diverse and evolving profession.


Please take a few minutes to complete our second questionnaire. We look forward to sharing the results of this with you and an updated commentary on the results of our first survey in the Summer edition of R3’s  RECOVERY Magazine.


Yvonne Joyce BA (Hons), CA is Senior Lecturer in Accountancy at the University of Glasgow

This article first appeared in the April 2021 edition of RECOVERY News online and is reproduced with the permission of R3 and GTI Media.

Your views on COVID-19’s Impact on the UK Insolvency and Restructuring Profession

COVID-19's Impact on UK Insolvency and Restructuring

Having recently gathered views on policy-related matters and the corporate insolvency landscape, Insolvency Support Services and researchers at the University of Glasgow are now embarking on the second part of our research study.

One year on from the commencement of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, our second survey examines:

  • The challenges presented by lockdown to working practices;
  • How firms have adapted and whether insolvency professionals feel the adaptations have worked;
  • The differential impacts of lockdown on different groups of people;
  • What lockdown will mean for the profession going forward.

We would be grateful if you could take a few minutes to complete this survey by Wednesday 21 April.

All participants will receive a summary of the findings and be entered into a prize draw for two chances to win an ISS Training webinar as well as a £50 voucher for an online retail store of the winners’ choice.

All responses will be treated confidentially and will go directly to Wallace Marketing, an independent consultancy we have commissioned to administer this study.

Many thanks in advance for participating.

Research Report – Corporate Insolvency and Restructuring: Current Policy Issues and Challenges

The insolvency profession faces almost constant regulatory and statutory change. Present times appear no different, with the return of HMRC to preferential status, potential for a single regulator, forthcoming Pre-Pack Regulations and a new Code of Ethics. Coupled with a global pandemic, Brexit and the ensuing increased demand for professional services and heightened media attention, the insolvency profession is working in eventful times.

Against this backdrop, the University of Glasgow and Insolvency Support Services conducted part one of a two-part survey among a representative sample of the insolvency profession.

Read the full research report, with all the findings and our commentary.

Summary of Key Research Results

Corporate Insolvencies

  • The top two triggers for a predicted rise in corporate insolvencies are the phasing out of the furlough scheme and the continuation of COVID-19 restrictions, with 94% and 86% of respondents respectively selecting these factors as likely or very likely.
  • Around four in five respondents believe a repayment demand for deferred VAT is likely or very likely to act as a trigger for a rise in corporate insolvencies.
  • The two sectors most badly affected by the pandemic so far are hospitality & leisure and retail, with 90% and 64% of respondents respectively identifying these sectors. Overall, 24 different sectors are mentioned by respondents, highlighting the wide-reaching consequences of lockdown and COVID-19 restrictions in the UK.
HMRC’s Preferential Status and Rescue
  • Only 1% of respondents believe HMRC is fully prepared for the increased level of engagement with the insolvency profession expected from being a preferential creditor.
  • 64% of respondents believe that prospects for rescue within formal insolvency will decrease because of HMRC’s return to preferential status, and that it will lead to a reduction in lending facilities and increased use of personal guarantees and fixed charges.
Single Regulator
  • Just under half of respondents (49%) support a single regulator, 34% do not and 16% either don’t know or have no opinion.
  • Of those in favour of a single regulator, 50% of respondents prefer a new entity to be established.
Pre-Pack Regulations 
  • We find support for the Regulations to provide a definition of a pre-pack (71%) and a definition of who can act as evaluator (94% agree or strongly agree).
  • Opinion on the proposed timescale of eight weeks for a substantial disposal to a connected party is divided between those who consider it too long (39%) and those who consider it the right amount of time (33%).
  • Of those who feel the eight-week period is too long, all respondents selected an option of four weeks or less.
  • The most popular choice for an evaluator is an IP. There is also strong support for the Pre-Pack Pool or someone with relevant experience.
  • 89% of respondents agree or strongly agree that an evaluator should be a member of a professional body.
  • A significant majority believe it is likely or very likely that sales to connected parties will be effected by a liquidator rather than by an administrator (88%), or directors will sell the business or assets to a connected party pre-insolvency (75%).
Code of Ethics
  • 72% of respondents have undertaken some training related to the revised Insolvency Code of Ethics. With the current spotlight on the insolvency profession, CPD in this area seems critical.
  • Only 34% of respondents believe the revised Code will improve standards within the profession.
Read the full research report, with all the findings and our commentary.
If you have any questions about this research, please contact us.

Our report on the findings of our second research survey on COVID-19’s Impact on the UK Insolvency and Restructuring Profession is also available to download.

IPA Learning with ISS Training

ISS Training is principal training partner for the IPA and supporting their newly launched IPA Learning (IPAL) initiative. 

Our training partnerships are important to us, and so we are also thrilled to announce that we are the principal training partner for the IPA and supporting their newly launched IPA Learning (IPAL) initiative.

IPAL is the IPA’s new learning partnership, located primarily on the Learndash platform, that will allow it to provide members, IPs and their teams with training and learning opportunities in relation to current technical and regulatory issues.  Designed with a clear focus on the practical application of technical and regulatory change as it impacts on IPA members’ businesses, the various workshops will be an opportunity to interact with the IPA, inform and develop working practices across the profession, and engage with the views of a Regulated Professional Body.

We will be working with the IPA to deliver an up-to-date, quality training programme throughout the year.

Hello to Louise Crawford

Louise Crawford

Louise Crawford has re-joined Insolvency Support Services as Manager with effect from 22 February, with a particular focus on outsourced client work.  Many of you know Louise and will be aware that she was our first ever employee, so it’s a real pleasure to welcome her back to the team.

Louise’s contact details are and her direct line is 0131 510 8641.  She is looking forward to working with you all again.