Meet… Francesca Tackie
29 September 2021
Licensed IP and Mercury Corporate Recovery Solutions Managing Director Francesca Tackie has assisted countless individuals, sole traders, partnerships and SMEs who are experiencing financial difficultly in nearly 20 years of working in the profession.
Francesca also sits on the new R3-Insolvency Service Diversity and Inclusion Steering Group – an initiative between the two organisations which aims to identify and address issues around diversity and inclusion across the insolvency and restructuring profession...
Hello Francesca. How did you get into the profession and what made you want to specialise in insolvency?
I worked for a corporate finance research company after finishing my degree in Business Economics and Spanish at Manchester Metropolitan University. While I was there I ‘discovered’ the insolvency profession, and moved to The Debt Advisor as an Insolvency Administrator, where I mainly specialised in personal insolvency – although I gained experience in corporate work later on.
Straight away, I knew I wanted to stay in the profession for the rest of my career – I really enjoyed working on the personal side and the real sense of helping people and problem solving the work gave me.
How did you end up running your own practice?
I left The Debt Advisor to join Tomlinsons, an independent Manchester practice, so I could gain more experience in corporate insolvency.
I sat and passed my JIEB exams while I was there, and I progressed to Assistant Manager and Senior Manager. When Tomlinsons was acquired by Begbies Traynor, I moved across to their head office in Manchester, and became a Director and then a Partner, before leaving to set up my own insolvency practice, Mercury Corporate Recovery Solutions, in April 2016.
What do you consider to be your biggest professional achievement so far?
There are a number of things I’m proud of. I obtaining the fourth highest mark in England & Wales when I passed the CPI, and that stands out because it gave me the confidence in my ability to develop further.
I was also delighted to be promoted to Partner at Begbies Traynor because I was the youngest partner in the whole organisation at that time, and the only female partner in the corporate insolvency team in the Manchester office – I was thrilled to have been rewarded and recognised for my experience and what I’d achieved for the firm.
But my biggest achievement, I think, was setting up and establishing my own small practice from scratch, and being able to employ my own team and run things in a way that suits the way I work. It was (and still is!) really challenging and there were some doubters who questioned why I would choose to do it, but it was the best career decision I ever made.
What are the biggest challenges faced by the profession today?
I think the biggest challenge are the increasing levels of regulation and rule changes – often these don’t always feel like they’re driven by any endemic issues within insolvency practice and are perhaps driven more by certain external perceptions of our profession. Some changes are welcome, but others can make it harder to focus on ‘doing the job’.
I also feel that insolvency still suffers from an image problem in that some people still don’t understand what we do and the value of our work.
Tell us about your work with the joint Diversity and Inclusion Steering Group...
Caroline Sumner invited me to join the group after I spoke to her about issues around diversity in the insolvency profession. I’ve faced a few barriers during my career journey, so I believe that R3 and the Insolvency Service have a taken a really positive step in showing how important it is to ensure that our profession is open and accessible to as wide a community as possible.
Studies continually show that diverse workplaces perform better financially and are better places to work, and the profession can only evolve by fishing in as deep a talent pool as possible.
What would you like to see the group achieve?
In the short-term, I’d be interested to see how the results of the survey we carried out over the summer tally with the group members’ experience and how we can identify and address any issues people face based on the data we’ve collected.
In the medium term, I’d like us to keep the conversations about diversity and inclusion alive – not in a way that makes people feel like they’re being preached to or at, but that helps and encourages them to haveconversations with their staff about barriers to entry or what’s holding them back from progressing.
I think this is important because we will only continue to grow as a profession if we have honest conversations about the barriers and challenges people face when it comes to entry and development and whether we can adapt how we work so that they don’t feel their background or personal circumstances are going to prevent them from achieving what they want to.
That leads me onto the thing I’d like the group to achieve in the long-term. I’d like the group to help the profession become as diverse as it can and have as broad and deep a talent pool as possible. The only way we’re going to continue to be recognised for what we do is if we embrace and encourage new ideas and new ways of working, and that will only come by bringing in people from a range of backgrounds and with a range of ideas and questions.
The profession has changed hugely in the 18 years I’ve worked in it, but we’ll only keep evolving if we keep changing and look at new ways of working and engaging with people affected by insolvency and financial distress.
Looking at the profession more broadly, what does the future of insolvency and restructuring look like for you?
My company does a lot of work with owner-managed businesses and has developed strong relationships with accountancy professionals. We hope to continue to grow in both of these areas in the future.
Looking more broadly, the profession has had its challenges during the pandemic. Now the economy has reopened, a number of new challenges may present themselves, and we are already seeing businesses fail despite the amount of government support schemes. I think these failures are likely to continue in the short to medium-term, sadly.
What does R3 membership mean to you?
I’ve been an R3 member since I started my insolvency career 18 years ago and it’s hard to imagine not being one. I run a smaller practice and it’s not always easy to keep up with the constantly changing insolvency landscape, particularly as a smaller practice, so having access to regular updates, support, and information through R3 is invaluable.
I also know R3’s team has worked hard in trying to engage with key voices within Government, and they have raised the Association’s profile there, and in the media at the same time. It’s always great when R3 is quoted in the press – this aspect of its work helps to challenge some of the myths around the work insolvency practitioners carry out and provides some much-needed balance to some of the less positive stories that are published.
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