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Insolvency expert celebrates 40-year career milestone

A partner at a leading regional accountancy firm celebrates 40 years of a career that has involved recovering £3.5m in a compulsory liquidation from a Swiss bank; being involved in the arrest of a bankrupt on an incoming flight from Amsterdam; and a bankruptcy involving the sale of micro-pigs, which weren’t really micro!

Andrew Kelsall, of Larking Gowen, says he has seen huge changes in the financial landscape, with many more options available to people in financial difficulties than when he started back in 1983.

Andrew describes a varied career that is not without its dramas and quirks. In one bankruptcy case, an individual was supposedly selling micro-piglets as pets which caused a surprise for their new owners when they grew to full size.

“It's been an interesting 40 years, and I still feel excited and enthused about going to work. Insolvency is a fascinating area. You are dealing with people from all walks of life, often at a very emotional time. Having life experience is a real asset," he said.

“Over the years there have been massive changes in legislation and practice, that affect the way we do things and the general attitude towards insolvency from both a personal and corporate perspective.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in personal insolvency as consumer credit has become more available, and debt relief and forgiveness solutions have developed. The 1986 Insolvency Act introduced the Individual Voluntary Arrangement as an alternative to bankruptcy and usually with no court involvement.

“The stigma involved in using one of the personal insolvency procedures has been greatly reduced, although not eliminated, and it provides those in financial difficulty with choices to help with debt forgiveness and or repayment of debts. Legislation has also been introduced in the last few years to give those in debt a ‘breathing space’, so again aimed at reducing the pressure of personal debt and having a period of time to consider options going forwards,” said Andrew.

Andrew first joined Larking Gowen in Norwich back in 1980, to start his training as a Chartered Accountant, then left the following year to study for his ACCA examinations at Norwich City College.

He then began a 29-year career with the Insolvency Service, which started at the Official Receivers Office in Norwich in 1983, moving to become the Deputy Official Receiver, at Southend in 1991, before he was seconded to the Insolvency Service Policy Unit in London in 1996.

The following year, he returned to Southend as Deputy Official Receiver, and in 1998 was appointed as Official Receiver in St Albans. In March 2002, he transferred to Official Receiver in Norwich.

2012 saw his return to Larking Gowen as Director of Insolvency, becoming a partner in April 2014.

“When I decided it was time for me to move on from the Insolvency Service, I didn't have to look far. My first choice was to return to Larking Gowen, the firm where I started out, and where some of my former colleagues were still working. It's reputation for dedication to client service and looking after people was an important part of that decision,” said Andrew.

“The future brings even more changes, with the Insolvency Service looking to be the sole regulator of all practitioners and conducting a review of 40-year-old legislation to decide if it’s still fit for purpose,” he added.

As well as his role at Larking Gowen, Andrew is Director of the Joint Insolvency Examinations Board (JIEB), and a committee member of the Smaller Practices Group (SPG) of R3 (The Insolvency Practitioners Trade Association.)



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