Londoners tend to think their city is the centre of the universe, but for three days in early November this fiction became a reality as BTG GN members gathered for our 2012 World meeting.
The base for the meeting was the excellent Cumberland Hotel near Marble Arch, which provided us with sensibly priced accommodation (at least by London hotel standards), high quality conferencing facilities and a very decent welcome dinner at celebrity Chef, Gary Rhodes’ restaurant, W1 Brasserie.
Our thirty foreign visitors and UK participants were treated to a technical programme which drew universal praise, especially from our regular attendees, many of whom commented that it was the best so far at one of our network meetings. The topics ranged far and wide, starting with a sophisticated presentation on techniques for working together and winning major cross border assignments and ending up with a sad explanation of the desperate financial situation in Hungary.
In between we learnt about early warning systems for troubled companies, managing security risk issues for hotels, worrying developments on the priority of pension liabilities in UK insolvency assignments and the international impact of the world’s most draconian anti-corruption legislation (the UK’s new Bribery Act).
There were fascinating sessions covering the development of the Sauvegarde system in France, the impact of the Eurozone crisis on the banking systems of Germany & Spain, how cross border restructuring works in India, the problems in Northern Ireland of living next door to the financial meltdown in Southern Ireland, the current situation in China and a thought provoking insight into the causes of the US recession and it’s continuing effect on the world’s biggest economy.
Most challenging of all was a philosophical view from Israel of how insolvency processes play a part in social justice and how insolvency practitioners have to recognise the wider interests of society, not just the letter of the laws which they are using.
We were delighted to welcome and to hear a presentation from our newest member, Abousleiman & Co from Beirut in Lebanon. Their managing director, Wissam Abousleiman made a significant contribution to both the technical programme and the networking throughout the meeting.
Professional markets around the world have one thing in common: people do business with people, not with firms and professional brands. This makes the social side of our meetings every bit as important as the technical programme. BTG GN is one of the most effective international networks in creating fellowship and productive professional relationships between members.
Old friendships were strengthened and new ones made in and around the hotel, but also at our three social events: the welcome dinner, a noisy dinner at the Dover Street jazz club and wine and finally at one of London’s most iconic venues: the tea room at Fortnum & Mason.
This last meeting before we all went our separate ways around the globe summed up the joy of the network. Thirteen of us met for a traditional and enormous English afternoon tea, which is a deeply unlucky number in all Anglo Saxon cultures. Soon the talk was of unlucky numbers in other cultures, such as China, India and the Middle East. Somehow this turned into a discussion on the different challenges in dealing with labour unions and employment laws around the world. Who knows what we would have explored next, if only time had allowed.
Our network members come from all continents, many countries and very diverse backgrounds, whether social or business. They work under very different laws and judicial systems, with every possible variation of creditor and debtor rights. But bring them together and all they want to do is share their thoughts, knowledge and experience and learn from each other. It is a miracle of communication in a troubled world.
Julie is a law graduate who qualified with Price Waterhouse in 1994. Julie joined Smith & Williamson in 1997 and became a partner in 2001. With Mike Stevenson, Julie set up Middleton Partners offices in Salisbury and Southampton, both of which are now part of Begbies Traynor.
Julie is a member of the Insolvency Practitioners Association and is a Fellow of The Association of Business Recovery Professionals. Julie deals with all aspects of Corporate Recovery and turnaround work and takes all form of personal insolvency appointments.