14 May 2020

Even before the COVID-19 crisis hit, it could be said that the insolvency sector faced a critical shortage of skilled people. Consider what your next steps may be to prepare for a potential influx of distressed businesses in need of support in the months ahead.

The Australian government’s swift action in temporarily relaxing bankruptcy laws and providing financial support to businesses impacted by COVID-19 has provided some welcome relief. Yet a question arises as to whether such measures can protect against the full impact of the crisis.

At the time of writing, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg had forecasted a $50bn fall in GDP in the June quarter; a bigger impact than the global financial crisis1. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), total jobs across the economy have already fallen 7.5% between 14 March and 18 April 2020, with roles in the Accommodation and Food Services sector dropping by a third2.

For insolvency practitioners, statistics like these are an indication that businesses may soon need expert advice from business restructuring specialists. Yet meeting that demand could pose challenges for many firms, in a sector facing a shortage of skilled people. Recent Macquarie Bank research shows that 86% of insolvency firms already find it hard to hire the people they need, while 83% face issues with retention3.

So, what are some things that you could be doing now to lift the productivity and effectiveness of your team – and position your business for success in the months ahead?

What are some things that you could be doing now to lift the productivity – and position your business for success in the months ahead?

1. Refining your structure and processes

To get the most out of your team, you may consider implementing a structure and processes that are capable of scaling, with a portion that’s capable of being executed remotely. This could assist you in managing a growing volume of work. You may consider starting this by mapping out your processes step-by-step, whilst identifying opportunities to automate, outsource and eliminate low value activities. If you find it necessary, you may consider restructuring your team or boosting support resources, which may ensure that your highly skilled practitioners aren’t spending time on administration and workflow management.

2. Developing and mentoring your team

Some of the work that’s driven by the COVID-19 crisis may take the form of business consulting and crisis management, rather than more traditional insolvency activities. You may consider adapting your focus to move outside of providing purely formal outcomes. In doing so, you may help businesses negotiate with stakeholders (such as creditors and landlords) and handle communications with their suppliers and employees. It may be time to ensure your team have the skills and tools they may need to work collaboratively with clients. By taking the time to develop and extend their skills, you could increase employee engagement and productivity, without the challenges of recruiting new staff.

3. Building a collaborative culture

Effective collaboration is always important – but in a time of crisis, it’s incredibly valuable. You may consider scheduling regular team and individual check-ins to foster communication and knowledge sharing, and ensure your people have ready access to collaboration tools and technical support, so that they can stay in touch - wherever they’re working.

4. Harnessing productivity-boosting technologies

Effective technology use remains an ongoing issue for many insolvency firms, with 71% saying they find it challenging to use technology to deliver services efficiently3. While 86% of firms now use time recording tools, many have yet to adopt document management and scanning tools (62%), workflow management software (55%) or accounts automation (23%). Technologies like these could help you improve the productivity of your team, and scale up more effectively in the face of growing demand. They are also becoming increasingly affordable, with a growing range of solutions now available off the shelf.

5. Setting a clear vision and strategy

There is evidence to suggest that highly engaged employees drive both improved customer experience and greater profitability4. At a time of change and continued uncertainty, it may be important to focus on the employee experience, and offer the reassurance and guidance your team is looking for.

Remember, your team are likely to be adjusting to working in different ways - perhaps in a home environment, with possible disruptions and stresses. You may want to consider taking the time to understand their individual challenges, so that they may feel supported, motivated and connected with the business and each other.

Most importantly, you may want to consider setting a clear vision for the firm’s future, so that everyone is engaged and working constructively towards the same goal.

How Macquarie can help

The Macquarie Insolvency team is here to help you with personalised support, delivered by industry specialists.

To find out more, contact your Macquarie Relationship Manager, call 1800 442 370, or visit macquarie.com.au/business-banking/insolvency-industry

Additional information


Josh Frydenberg, “COVID-19: Australia’s Path to Recovery and Reform”, Speech to the National Press Club, 5 May 2020.


ABS Release 6160.0.55.001, “Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in Australia”, Week ending 18 April 2020.


Macquarie Bank, Insolvency Pulse Check, 2020.

The information on this page has been prepared by Macquarie Business Banking, a division of Macquarie Bank Limited AFSL & Australian Credit Licence 237502 ("Macquarie") for general information purposes only, without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this general information, you must consider its appropriateness having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs. The information provided is not intended to replace or serve as a substitute for any accounting, tax or other professional advice, consultation or service.