Lisa Ion is an Associate Director at Leonard Curtis Business Solutions Group’s Liverpool office.

She went to school in Bootle, Merseyside, and studied law at Liverpool John Moores University. On graduating, Lisa worked in an accountancy practice before moving into business rescue and recovery.

She lives on the Wirral and, in her rare moments of downtime, you can find her in the kitchen recreating recipes from The Great British Bake Off.

Why did you go into your chosen career?

I studied law at uni and after graduating I spent two years as a trainee accountant. I had a natural leaning towards compliance and reporting and, before long, I realised that straightforward accountancy wasn’t for me.

I started to look for a new job and saw an advert for a corporate insolvency case administrator. They wanted someone with both legal and accountancy skills – which I had – and the role really appealed to me. That was 15 years ago, and I haven’t looked back.

I was offered the job and began my Certificate of Proficiency in Insolvency (CP1) qualification 18 months later, and I passed after six months. I then got more on-the-job training and took my Joint Insolvency Examination Board (JIEB) exams in 2011.  

I joined Leonard Curtis in June 2017 and qualified as a licensed insolvency practitioner the following year. I’m now an Associate Director here.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love that no two days are the same. I’m constantly coming across new challenges and picking up new skills.

I also really enjoy the technical side of it and keeping up to date with the frequent changes to UK insolvency and company law.

Working with such a wide range of people is also great – there’s never a dull moment. Being able to help a client when they’re in a really stressful and difficult situation is also very rewarding. Nothing beats being able to secure a successful case outcome for all stakeholders.

What is the most valuable business lesson you have learnt?

The most valuable lesson I’ve learnt is the importance the entire team plays in the success of the business. Everyone has a role to play, both individually and collectively.

It’s especially important here at Leonard Curtis because of our inter-disciplinary approach. I work with so many experts in so many specialisms – coming together to develop the best solutions for our clients is what we do best. Having the right people in the right jobs is what makes this possible and it’s what the reputation of the firm has been built on over the last 25 years.

How do you stay ahead of the game?

I stay ahead by keeping up to date with the many frequent changes to insolvency legislation and case law, which I actually really enjoy.

I also go to networking events and always keep an eye what our competitors are up to. You should never be complacent about your market position.

When do you come up with your best business ideas?

Lots of my best business ideas come to me in team meetings, when we bounce thoughts off each other.

Bedtime is another prompt for thinking things over, as is my commute to and from the office. I’ve been known to have many a lightbulb moment behind the wheel of my car.

Why should people come to Leonard Curtis? What do you offer them that other professional services firms don’t?

The breadth of our offering sets us apart from other advisory firms out there. The fact that we have every possible professional services expert either under our roof – or as a close working partner – means that every client receives a tailored solution best suits their business’ needs.

We don’t have to compromise with the solutions and services we offer as we can cover every conceivable quandary covered.

What is the best advice you could give to a regional SME in these unprecedented Covid times?

We’ve always stressed the importance of asking for advice early on and this remains. The sooner help is sought, the more options are available. Don’t bury your head in the sand and hope that any difficulties will go away – they rarely do.

Work out your best (and worst!) case scenario if this situation continues for, say, another year. We can help with that. We’re also working with lots of SME owners to explain and explore the funding options available to them and to work out if and how their businesses can be streamlined.

Another approach that is working well for some SME clients is switching their business model to make the most of any new opportunities and revenue streams to come from the pandemic situation. By making some pretty simple changes, their businesses have become more profitable than ever.

What questions are clients most frequently asking at the moment?

Advice on funding options is the big one. As the end of the furlough scheme is now in sight, lots of clients are keen to find out more about alternative options available and how to go about accessing them.

The difficulty that many clients face when trying to secure funding is presenting a cashflow forecast. In these tricky times, is often easier said than done. We don’t know how much longer the crisis will continue and the goalposts are changing all the time.  

What are your top tips for women wishing to progress their career in leadership roles?

My best tip is to recognise your own strengths – and those of your team – and use all of them to your best advantage.

Also, make sure the team around you has sufficient training to be able to undertake their job – and support you in yours – to the best of their ability.

Keep learning. It keeps your standards high and encourages your team to do the same.

And last, but by no means least, be authentic. Honesty is always the best policy.

Which book has most inspired you and why?

Helen Forrester’s Twopence to Cross the Mersey is the book that has inspired me most, for many reasons.

Being a local girl growing up during the late eighties and early nineties, it was fascinating to read about a girl of a similar age, who lived in same areas as me – in Bootle, Liverpool and the Wirral – 60  years earlier and the hardships she endured.

My mum and nan both read it and gave it to me. I’ve since bought a copy for my daughter, which makes it even more special to me.

Set in the Great Depression during the 1930s, I think it shows, if nothing else, such a tenacity of spirit and will to succeed in life. You can’t help but be inspired.

What piece of professional / personal advice would you give to your 18-year old self?

Don’t worry so much. It’s a waste of time and can make you feel pretty rubbish. Often, the things that keep you awake at night aren’t even important in a couple of days or weeks.

I’m naturally a real worrier and I’ve learnt over the years to control it better than I could when I was 18. I do think, however, that a bit of worry spurs you on, so I couldn’t imagine ever being 100% carefree!

How do you switch off?

I find it really hard to switch off, so I don’t do it that often. The closest I come to it is when I go on holiday abroad, which I try to do two or three times a year.

​​​​​Watching The Great British Bake Off – and then trying to recreate what they’ve baked – really helps me to relax. Sometimes they work out, sometimes they don’t. Everyone who takes part is so supportive of each other and there’s no nastiness, which makes it such nice viewing. I just can’t help but join in at home.

Want to know more? Contact Lisa at our Liverpool office.

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