Grant Thornton UK LLP
4 Hardman Square, Spinningfields
M3 3EB, Manchester, England
Peers and clients say:
"Mike has vast experience and excellent judgement"
"I have never known one of Mike's decisions to be successfully challenged"
"He is relentlessly commercial and above all, a pleasure to work with"
Mike Saville is a director specialising in asset recovery from and through offshore jurisdictions. He has extensive experience in cases involving the US, China and numerous island jurisdictions associated with ‘hiding’ assets. After 22 years as a UK-based insolvency practitioner, Mike gained experience in the offshore world as a Cayman Islands-based practitioner, leading predominantly court-appointed liquidations and receiverships. He has also taken appointments in the Isle of Man, including a locally high-profile trust and company services provider.
Describe your career to date.
From pre-Insolvency Act 1986 advice on both corporate and personal insolvency, to focusing on bank-led engagements dealing with restructuring outside of a formal insolvency process, taking UK-based receivership, administration and liquidation appointments across all industry sectors, to ultimately a specialisation in offshore insolvency appointments to investigate fraud and to achieve global asset realisations.
This seems to reflect the trend within the insolvency profession from generalist to specialist.
What do clients look for in an effective asset recovery expert?
A balance of appropriate geographic coverage, technical knowledge, a realistic assessment of the cost, value equation for strategic options and more increasingly, knowledge and assistance with funding solutions.
What do you enjoy most about practising on such a global level?
The challenges of providing solutions to complex problems. The pleasure and pain of dealing with a broad spectrum of people around the world, both those who we work with in support of our assignment and often those we must deal with as part of the appointment.
How has asset recovery practice been impacted by covid-19 and what do you expect the long-term implications of the pandemic to be for recovery specialists and investigators?
For me the primary change has been less travel and the transition to Zoom/Teams meetings in place of face to face. Ultimately the economic shock wave caused by the pandemic seems very likely to lead to significant additional work but perhaps not for two or three years.
How is the global balance between offshore and onshore jurisdictions changing?
A recent survey (Shifting Sands) jointly undertaken by Grant Thornton and South Square suggests a balancing of perception amongst knowledgeable global advisers of the maturing nature of insolvency-related processes and professionals in a number of offshore jurisdictions. It suggests that the best regarded offshore jurisdictions are now able to compete in many ways with major onshore jurisdictions in appropriate circumstances.
What challenges remain in pursuing cross-border insolvencies and how can these be overcome?
Effective cross-border communication, balancing and understanding comparative onshore and offshore legal and practical differences, ultimately despite the potential for many inevitable distractions, keeping a focus on achieving the core objective in the most effective and timely way.
The right skills, experience and funding deployed in appropriate locations, facilitates this outcome.
How does Grant Thornton distinguish itself from its competition?
We combine the specialist skills and experience of people based in both onshore centres and those who are known, respected and who understand the law and practice in their local offshore market. By regular discussion amongst our globally diverse team, we ensure a collegiate atmosphere and a pooling of knowledge and experience. This facilitates a truly global, team approach to assignments that goes way beyond just a map with office flags around the world.
What advice would you give to younger experts, hoping to one day be in your position?
Look for opportunities to broaden your skills and when possible be sufficiently bold to act upon them to further your career.