This article first appeared in the summer 2013 edition of RECOVERY and is reproduced with permission from R3 and GTI Media
View from the bridge: the JIEB examination
Peter Windatt and Alan Katz give an insight into what it takes to pass the JIEB.
Passing the JIEB examination is a very significant event in the career of anyone who, since the late 1980s, has wished to become a licensed insolvency practitioner. Many congratulations to those who have passed. This is not an easy examination, typically taken by candidates in their 30s who do not have recent experience of taking examinations and who, at that stage in their life, may also have substantial work and family commitments. Passing is a real achievement.
The board's expectations of candidates to achieve a pass are set out in the notes to candidates and syllabus, which we will not repeat here. However, we would emphasise the overall standard – to assess whether candidates have sufficient knowledge of insolvency law and practice to enable them to carry out the functions of an insolvency practitioner with an emphasis on practical application as well as knowledge of insolvency law and other relevant law and regulations.
Clearing the hurdle
In determining the pass standard, we are mindful that examination conditions do not equate with normal work conditions where practitioners may consult with colleagues, take advice or take more time to research and resolve an issue. We are also aware that the marginal candidate may be just sufficient rather than good or excellent, so we do not exclude candidates who may make adequate rather than high flying IPs. That said, because a pass clears a hurdle en route to securing a licence, we also have the weighty responsibility of not allowing through those who do not have sufficient knowledge and, importantly, the ability to apply their knowledge to practical situations. Essentially, at the margin, we are trying to assess whether it will be safe to allow a candidate through. What this means for candidates and their firms, is that they should ensure that their practical experience and pre-examination training takes them well clear of marginal territory – in other words to aim high having gained some practical experience and had good tuition across the syllabus. Obviously it is much safer for candidates, and makes easier the process of deciding which side of the line you fall, if you are not right on the margin.
Although the published pass marks are scaled* to 45 per cent, the underlying or 'raw' pass marks can and do vary between years, as does the pass rate. There is no fixed pass mark because it is not possible to set examinations that will be pass-worthy at exactly the same mark each year. There is no fixed pass rate because the clear policy of the board is to grant a pass to as many or as few candidates as merit a pass in each year. Pass mark setting is therefore ultimately a matter of judgment based on extensive review and moderation (re-marking) of scripts around a range of provisional pass marks. That said, the examining team aim to set the papers and marking plans such that the pass mark will be in the 40 to 50 per cent range – in other words reasonably close to the scaled pass mark.
Explaining differences in the pass rates between years is more difficult; these have ranged, as a percentage, in recent years between the 40s and the 70s. Historically they have been in the teens. Pass rates will depend on factors including the overall quality of the examination cohort including their relevant training and experience. What is striking, however, is that some sub-groups of the cohort – individual firms or recognised professional bodies (RPBs) – report consistently very high pass rates. This provides additional overall comfort to the board and the examination team each year that the setting and marking processes are reasonable and that the examinations are eminently passable by those who are adequately prepared and trained.
That said, we are not complacent and are constantly looking to improve our processes and procedures. Steps that we have taken in recent years to enhance the fairness of the process, and to help distinguish the marginal candidates, include all compulsory and equal mark questions (so that everyone is taking the same examination); adoption of a learning outcomes (practical and results oriented) syllabus; single question marking (to help eliminate inconsistencies); holistic marks (to provide two different assessments that can be considered separately and together); consultation and analysis of results with internal and external educational consultants; more extensive and consultative moderation procedures and oversight of the marking (a process that will be facilitated by the intended introduction of scanning scripts for electronic marking and oversight, over the course of the next two years). There has also been increased and more substantive contact between the board, examining team, insolvency firms and training providers, which is intended to improve understanding of the process and of the results themselves. The board welcomes any input from students and firms on how the process can be improved.
Peter Windatt is the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants' (ACCA) representative board member on the JIEB and the current chairman. He is the first chairman of the board to have qualified as an IP, sitting the JIE in 1992. Alan Katz is a Research Fellow in Insolvency at Lancaster University and is retired from general insolvency practice.
John William Rimmer and Peter John Windatt were appointed as Joint Liquidators of Ian Neale Construction Group Limited ("the Company") on 21 May 2013. Whilst the Company did not trade, it did operate as a holding company for a number of subsidiaries and owned the land and stadium situated at Triton Showers Community Arena, Liberty Way, Nuneaton. The Joint Liquidators are currently acting as landlords of the stadium which is leased to Nuneaton Town Football Club on a ten year lease of which eight years remain.
Fans, players and other stakeholders should not be unduly concerned as it is intended that the lease will continue to operate as normal and that there will be no evident change to Nuneaton Town Football Club. The Joint Liquidators' primary duty is to identify and realise assets for the benefit of creditors. In doing so, in the medium to long term, it is intended that the Joint Liquidators will look to sell the freehold of the land and stadium, with the existing lease to the Football Club remaining in place.
Interkey Services Limited
Great news for Corby - 17 jobs have been secured through the use of a Pre-Pack Administration of the company Interkey Services Limited – a manufacturer of bespoke architectural and other metal fabrications.
Following discussions with the major creditors a sale was concluded immediately upon the appointment of Joint Administrators from BRI Business Recovery and Insolvency in Northampton, thereby securing the future of the employees and the completion of the work in progress.
Joint Administrator Peter Windatt reported "Whilst there have been many adverse press pieces about the use of pre-packs I am delighted that a situation which would have resulted in loss of all jobs for this business and probably for others in their supply chain, and, in all likelihood, no return to creditors, had the company entered liquidation, has instead improved the chances of a partial recovery for the unsecured creditors as well as preventing there being any claims from employees – it has also preserved a customer for suppliers that now has the necessary capital behind it to give it and the workforce every chance of a strong future."
The business, which is to remain based at Princewood Road, has gained the backing of a previous satisfied customer. The new company is called Interkey Fabrications Limited and they are already up and running and looking for more clients to keep the workshops and everyone employed there fully utilised. Their address and telephone contact details are all as before.
Peter Windatt, Insolvency Practitioner and Director of BRI Business Recovery and Insolvency added, "I am delighted that we have found a way to preserve so many jobs. We wish the new owners, directors and their team every good wish for a bright and happy future".
Successful launch for BRI’s Island Networking Lunch event
33 professionals from the Isle of Wight’s accounting, legal, financial and business advisory communities attended the launch of a networking lunch event on 15 May 2013. The event, held at Lugleys in Newport, was organised by local insolvency practitioners BRI Business Recovery and Insolvency (“BRI”). It gave attendees the opportunity to meet up with professional contacts, old and new, whilst enjoying a delicious lunch.
BRI’s host and Island resident Alan Limb said, “From talking to our Island based contacts, we recognised that they would welcome the opportunity to attend a networking event to which all the Island’s business professionals could be invited. We are delighted that the event was well received by all attendees. Their feedback is that they enjoyed the friendly atmosphere and the chance to develop valuable business contacts for the future.”
“We plan to hold the event four times each year with the next lunch scheduled for 11 September 2013. We hope that it will be equally well supported and enjoyed by all.”
Rebecca Dacre from our Milton Keynes office has been selected for an eventing sponsorship programme run by Scotts of Thrapston and Carlton Cross Country. Rebecca is a keen horse rider and is just learning the ropes in eventing, so was thrilled to have been selected for this training opportunity. You can follow her progress here: http://www.scottsofthrapstonblog.co.uk/category/rider-development-programme/rebecca-dacre/
Coventry City - "The poor and pity"
Alan Limb, who heads up BRI's Southampton office, was born and brought up in Kenilworth. He has been a lifelong supporter of Coventry City Football Club, or "the poor and pity" as his father used to refer to them.
That nickname has proven to be rather accurate in view of recent events at the Ricoh Arena. The ongoing dispute between the Club and its landlord has resulted in the Club suffering a ten point deduction by the Football League following the Administration of Coventry City Football Club Ltd.
Alan's experience as an Insolvency Practitioner and his understanding of the situation as a fan of the Sky Blues has enabled BRI to contribute to the accurate reporting by both the Coventry Telegraph and BBC Coventry & Warwickshire of the complex issues involved.
Alan commented "When I could see that Insolvency was likely at Coventry City, I contacted Les Reid of the Coventry Telegraph who I know because we went to Kenilworth School together. Les is an excellent political journalist who has been equally keen as me to ensure that the story is correctly reported. This doesn't always happen when the media generally comments on Insolvency, which can be difficult to understand.
I have kept in regular contact with Les. This has helped him get to grips with the issues and appreciate how Insolvency law and the Football League Regulations are influencing the actions of the Joint Administrators. It has also assisted him in predicting the possible outcome for the Club from the Administration. Les has been kind enough to regularly quote BRI in his articles, which has resulted in me also being interviewed twice by Paul Marriott on BBC Coventry & Warwickshire. We are happy to remain involved to help readers and listeners understand the story and we sincerely hope that the Administration results in a successful future for Coventry City Football Club."
Les Reid has appreciated Alan's input, "BRI's Alan Limb has been a key independent source providing expert guidance for Coventry Telegraph readers trying to make sense of complex off-the-field activities at Coventry City Football Club. His neutral analysis - as an expert in insolvency laws and a knowledgeable lifelong supporter of the club - has steered readers in general through the maze of fast-moving legal and financial events. As a journalist scrutinising all sides of the dispute, with Coventry City Football Club Ltd now in Administration, Alan has been one of the key independent analysts I have turned to."
Strengthening the Services at BRI Business Recovery and Insolvency
We are pleased to announce that BRI Business Recovery and Insolvency has strengthened its team in Coventry through the awarding to John Rimmer, by the ACCA, of his Insolvency Practitioners Licence.
As John is now a Licensed Insolvency Practitioner, this enables local business owners and directors to obtain advice from an in-house Insolvency Practitioner from within BRI’s Coventry office and with the ongoing support of the existing four licence-holders across the firms other offices.
John has been with the firm for eight years during which time he has qualified as a member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and, following his success in the Joint Insolvency Exams Board qualification in 2010, has become BRI’s fifth Insolvency Licence holder and is taking formal insolvency appointments in his own name. John is supported by a knowledgeable and experienced team both in Coventry as well as colleagues across BRI’s five other offices providing a broad range of expertise to both corporate and personal clients who are seeking solutions to challenging financial situations.
During his time with BRI, John has built on the firms’ strong network of contacts across the Midlands including accountants, bankers, financiers, investors and solicitors. This network enables John, and his colleagues, to offer a full support service to BRI’s clients ensuring that advice is delivered quickly and professionally at all times. This has enabled BRI to assist clients in a range of sectors in order to find a rescue solution or an orderly exit strategy.
For practical and invaluable advice on restructuring and how best to avoid insolvency, please contact John Rimmer at BRI on 02476 226839 for an impartial and independent review of your situation. As always, the initial consultation is in confidence, free of charge and without obligation.
10th Annual BRI Business Recovery and Insolvency Quiz Goes Down a Storm
On a night when the heavens opened, and the wind and snow did their best to put people off venturing out, 39 of the 40 teams who had booked made it to the Marriott Hotel and did their best to pit their wits against a variety of Northampton’s professional service firms.
Over the course of a couple of hours, the teams enjoyed/endured a variety of rounds on a number of topics leading to an extremely close-run battle for the top three places – with only one point between each.
So far there have been no appeals or writs served but it was accountants who swept the board, Phipps Henson McAllister bagged the top spot, and two teams from Cobley Desborough came in 2nd and 3rd. The BRI team did try to advise others that they had come fourth equal, and most appeared happy with this, though those that enquired further were grateful to the 40th team for not turning up - thereby ensuring that at least they did not come last.
Quizmasters Peter Windatt and Ian Cooke, Director and Manager from the BRI Business Recovery and Insolvency team (there were some 10 markers, runners and recorders from BRI there to ensure the smooth running of the event) switched from their daytime role of helping businesses avoid the need for their formal insolvency services and struggled manfully with some tough pronunciations. The Marriott team coped with serving food to 150+ hungry attendees and the bar was not run dry – clearly the reputation of Northampton’s professional firms have gone before them. A great time was had by all and BRI are grateful to those firms for supporting the quiz that evening and also for supporting the firm as they, having taken over from their predecessor practice, embark on their 31st year of assisting the town and region with all things business recovery and insolvency related.
BRI Business Recovery and Insolvency have their head-office in St. James Road, Northampton. Anyone with any business recovery or insolvency related query can contact them via 01604 754352 or via their web-site www.briuk.co.uk.