The windy road to practising insolvency: My path at BDO

16 March 2016

Benjamin Schierhuber |

There's no one road to working at BDO. For me, that journey has taken a few twists before joining the firm's Cairns office.

My journey to BDO has been a bit different to the usual path that people take when they start their career with the firm. Rather than joining through the graduate program I joined as an experienced hire when my employer merged with BDO in 2014.

Despite that unique detour, I've really enjoyed the opportunities that have come with working with a larger firm like BDO, where insolvency is just one of the services that we offer to clients.

The first twists in the road to working in insolvency 

At university I studied a Bachelor of Business majoring in management and entrepreneurship and a Bachelor of Laws with Honours.

During my law studies I completed a module on insolvency and bankruptcy that I found really interesting; however, I knew that I would need an accounting qualification so I initially dismissed it as a career opportunity.

My original plan was to pursue a career in law, yet when I graduated the job market wasn't particularly strong for law graduates which is how I ended up pursuing a career in insolvency. The decision then led me back to university to complete a Masters in Professional Accounting due to the requirements to become a registered liquidator.

Starting my CA

I was employed in the insolvency industry for about three years before my previous employer merged with BDO. By then I had received my Masters and was nearing the end of my first subject in the CA Program. Working at both a boutique and global firm provided me with a unique view on CA support. At my former employer the support tended to be informal and while the team was incredibly helpful it was challenging to cover the full breadth of experience that the CA qualification required. At BDO, there has been considerable formal support including in-house classes, training sessions, study leave and they even paid for me to attend the CA Masterclasses.

Another big advantage is that BDO is a Chartered Accounting certified trainer. At the boutique firm we were required to maintain a logbook of the different competencies that we had achieved for the CA Program. Now, I no longer have to maintain the logbook due to the standard of BDO’s in-house training that I attend as part of my role.

I have really benefited from BDO’s study support and it has helped me to achieve a merit listing in my last three CA subjects.

The diverse world of insolvency

I thoroughly enjoy working in insolvency as it is multi-disciplined and every administration is unique, drawing on my different areas of knowledge. Typically, it is based on Australia's insolvency legislation but it also requires accounting expertise to understand a client’s financial position. The opportunity to offer creative advice to turnaround a client’s position (where possible) is incredibly rewarding but there can be challenging days. As part of my role I occasionally travel to meet clients on their terms to understand the challenges that they face first hand.

I'm really looking forward to continuing my career progression in insolvency. First, I'll need to complete my study towards the CA Program and then I’ll need to complete an additional 18 months of study to become eligible to apply for the liquidator and trustee in bankruptcy tickets.

The qualification process is also heavily based on industry experience. You are expected to have considerable experience dealing with insolvencies in a commercial setting and identifying the best solutions for the parties involved, often with imperfect information and challenging timeframes, while complying with the legal requirements of the process.

So what has made BDO different?

BDO has been an incredibly welcoming and friendly firm to join and I’ve really benefited from being able to access expertise from every department.

I’m fortunate to work in a small team as we work really well together and I work closely with our Partner. I also regularly liaise with staff across the firm to discuss specific issues that cross over different teams.

Making the transition to work for BDO after coming from a boutique firm has been a great experience. There are considerable opportunities and I’ve been provided with the support and expertise to take on new challenges, being part of a dynamic and growing firm.