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Scott Atkins appointed as INSOL International President

Global Publication Q3 | 2021

Norton Rose Fulbright Australia Chair, Partner and Head of Risk Advisory, Scott Atkins, was appointed as the new President of INSOL International for a two year term, taking over from outgoing President Julie Hertzberg. INSOL—the International Association of Restructuring, Insolvency & Bankruptcy Professionals—is the peak global association for restructuring and insolvency professionals with over 44 member associations and over 10,500 members. It also has a number of ancillary groups and colloquia that represent the judiciary, regulators, academics, mediators and financiers.

As INSOL plans its strategic future through to 2030, we sat down with Scott to chat about INSOL and his priorities as President. Scott's priorities are a reflection of the important role restructuring, turnaround and insolvency plays not just as a 'fall back' when businesses fail, but in driving innovation, efficiency, economic and financial stability and growth, as well as enabling social change and progress towards a more equitable and sustainable future.

I am incredibly excited and humbled to take on the mantle as INSOL President for the next two years. This role comes at a very challenging period globally, marked by rapidly evolving business and regulatory settings and a very clear appetite—which I do not think we have ever seen to this degree in our lifetimes—for genuine restructuring and insolvency law reform.

There are three priority areas I would like to focus on in my term as President. The first relates to technological transformation and digitisation. Technology-driven change and digitisation are transforming businesses and economies with lightning speed. As professionals, we have an opportunity to comprehensively upskill to be fully-equipped to ensure that we most effectively, and efficiently maximise value for all stakeholders and the broader economy as countless businesses transition their operating models.

“It is a great privilege and honour to lead INSOL International especially at such a critical juncture in the global economy. INSOL’s focus will be on supporting members to pursue restructuring and insolvency solutions and systems that maximise global economic value. Through a global lens, we will continue to influence practice and policy of the profession as INSOL and its members shape legal and regulatory trends internationally.”

One of the core priorities I therefore wish to pursue is to arm and empower our members with the knowledge, skills and expertise they need to be able to not just respond to the rapid changes that are happening systemically across industries, but to perceive these changes ahead of time and harness new technology and data to drive the inevitable change. To be on a quest for continuous improvement and to deliver innovation and ingenuity—as an organisation and individually—is something to which we can all aspire.

Related to this, a key focus I'd like to pursue is the use of advanced technology, including AI—particularly by our members—to assist in managing the copious amounts of corporate information in the Big Data era and to maximise the efficiency of restructuring and insolvency systems and processes globally. INSOL has an important ongoing role to play in educating our members on the benefits of AI and the technologies that are available to be used right now.

The second priority focus area will be regulatory reform and capacity building. The global pandemic has been the catalyst for over 80 countries to review, reform and adapt their restructuring and insolvency laws to stave off and address unwelcome economic impacts. This has presented an opportunity to maintain and expand INSOL's law reform, capacity-building efforts and advocacy, focusing in particular on building a stronger framework for out-of-court workouts, the adoption of simplified restructuring and insolvency processes for MSMEs (particularly in emerging economies), and progressing regional and global initiatives to enhance cross-border insolvency recognition, cooperation and coordination.

This work is of the utmost importance to INSOL and a constellation of globally leading organisations including UNCITRAL, The World Bank and the IMF. A well-functioning restructuring and insolvency system is one of the key legal and economic pillars in promoting entrepreneurship, innovation, access to finance and economic growth. Indeed, best practice restructuring and insolvency systems help to maximise value, support the efficient recycling of capital for use in the most profitable and innovative ventures, and also to promote financial stability and investment confidence through clear processes for dealing with complex and often inconsistent rights in adverse financial circumstances. Insolvency and restructuring is, in a very real sense, the driver of global economic stability and growth—and this is especially important in a COVID-19 world.

“"A well-functioning restructuring and insolvency system is one of the key legal and economic pillars in promoting entrepreneurship, innovation, access to finance and economic growth."”

The third focus area I'd like to prioritise is global sustainability initiatives pursued in the context of restructuring. The push for businesses to be run more sustainably will drive restructuring activity, demanding professionals with environmental, social and governance expertise. On current statistics, more than one in five of the world's largest companies have made some form of commitment to reaching net zero emissions. At the same time, investors and financiers are sharpening their focus on the social impact of companies. INSOL members are uniquely positioned, together with specialists in corporate sustainability, to advise businesses and support their response to the impact of these inevitable forces. It seems unarguable that the need for action on this front will accelerate as the global economy emerges from its pandemic-induced strictures.

It is a great privilege and honour to lead INSOL International, especially at such a critical juncture for the global economy. INSOL's focus will be on supporting members to pursue restructuring and insolvency solutions and systems that maximise global economic value. Through a global lens, we will continue to influence practice and policy of the profession as INSOL and its members shape legal and regulatory trends internationally.


Snapshot: INSOL International

INSOL International is a worldwide federation of national associations of accountants and lawyers who specialise in restructuring, turnaround and insolvency. INSOL has a unique global perspective across the world economy, where cross-border operations and business transactions continue to be shaped by rapid technological advancement and integration. In that context, the organisation plays a significant role in global restructuring and insolvency law reform and the development of policy and regulatory settings that maximise efficiency and value in insolvency processes and position those processes as key drivers of economic and financial stability, entrepreneurship, investment confidence, innovation and growth.

INSOL also takes a leading role in capacity building, including the training of judges and insolvency practitioners in developing nations, and creating greater stakeholder engagement in restructuring and insolvency across the world, through its Judicial Insolvency Programme, Asia Hub and various other initiatives. It also works with a number of other organisations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Financial Stability Board and UNCITRAL in devising solutions to build better insolvency systems on a cross-border, regional and domestic basis.



Contact

Chair, Australia; Head of Risk Advisory, Australia; Partner

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