Margot ignited her career over 20 years ago through her focused work on international cross-border restructuring, insolvency and forensic matters. Margot recently took over as head of the Grant Thornton restructuring practice in the Cayman Islands. Prior to joining the firm, Margot built and established the Cayman practice for a specialist insolvency and restructuring firm based in Asia. Her entrepreneurial flair and strong network, both in Cayman and internationally, resulted in building thriving businesses with multiple millions in revenues.
WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER AS AN ASSET RECOVERY EXPERT?
Very early on in my career I had the opportunity to work on forensic engagements and moved to the Cayman Islands in pursuit of interesting and challenging work, my first assignment was the liquidation of Bank of Credit & Commerce International. The asset recovery work on that case was complex, fascinating and like no other case I had ever worked on. The complexity and challenge of the forensic and asset recovery work was addictive and I went on from that assignment to work on a number of large distressed banks – some of which went into liquidation, and some which involved the pursuit of non-performing loans, and pursuing other avenues of recovery by litigation, asset tracing or both. There was no going back after that.
WHAT QUALITIES MAKE FOR A GOOD ASSET RECOVERY SPECIALIST?
Without doubt the first word that comes to mind is creativity. You have to be able to think about an issue from multiple angles and perspectives, put yourself in someone else’s shoes and think through where they would hide the assets. This would be coupled with tenacity and persistence and followed by an eye for detail, a healthy degree of scepticism and a love for the work.
HOW IS THE USE OF CRYPTOCURRENCY CHANGING THE ASSET RECOVERY MARKET?
Cryptocurrency has not yet changed the face or practices in asset recovery market, particularly in the Cayman Islands. Cryptocurrency is an area of interest and focus and could have a significant impact on the solutions and outcomes pursued by asset recovery specialists in the future. Many of the professionals are watching this space carefully.
WHAT IMPACT DO YOU THINK THE SAAD INVESTMENTS COMPANY V AHMED HAMAD ALGOSAIBI & BROTHERS JUDGMENT WILL HAVE ON FRAUD AND ASSET RECOVERY CASES IN THE CAYMAN ISLANDS AND BEYOND?
The Cayman Islands initial judgment has been good for the Cayman Islands in demonstrating the jurisdiction’s ability to handle cross border litigation and asset recovery engagements. It has proved the Cayman court system is capable of handling extremely complex litigation, which supports the credibility and accessibility of Cayman as a jurisdiction. It’s the largest litigation in Cayman history, spanning more than 10 years from the date the initial claim was lodged, with around US$10 billion at stake for the parties involved. The matter is currently with the Court of Appeal.
HOW HAS GRANT THORNTON ADAPTED TO GROWING COMPETITION IN THE CONSULTING SERVICES MARKET?
Grant Thornton has continued to be engaged on large, global and complex assignments. The quality of our work on these assignments is the main driver of brand growth and new work. As we grow, we continue to invest in a talented and experienced team in the Cayman Islands and throughout its offshore centres.
HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR PERSONAL PRACTICE DEVELOPING OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?
As head of the Cayman practice, my focus is on quality, growth and sustaining the success of the Cayman practice over the past decade. In my short time at Grant Thornton I have developed strong relationships with my partners in the offshore network. We have the advantage of a great global brand underpinned by a “boutique firm” culture. We work together closely to offer our clients a seamless global service, sharing knowledge and resources to ensure our clients have the best possible experience. That means bespoke organic offerings that are underpinned by the quality and service of a trusted, well-known global brand.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE?
Success and balance in all areas of life. Not only have I managed a successful career, of more than 20 years, in insolvency and asset recovery, I have been a practice leader of two separate practices – one a start-up and the other an established business. I am one of a handful of women in the industry, and I managed my career while raising two successful and wonderful children.
Margot ignited her career over 20 years ago through her focused work on international cross-border restructuring, insolvency and forensic matters. Margot has recently taken over as head of the Grant Thornton restructuring practice in the Cayman Islands. Prior to joining Grant Thornton Margot built and established the Cayman practice of a specialist insolvency and restructuring firm based in Asia. Her entrepreneurial flair and strong network, both in Cayman and internationally, has resulted in helping to build thriving businesses with multiple millions in revenues.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT WORKING IN THE RESTRUCTURING SPACE?
The work is exciting, fast-paced and ever-changing. I enjoy working with the type of people this environment attracts – smart, creative, hardworking and tenacious problem-solvers. I have had the opportunity to work on some of the most interesting, high-profile distressed situations, and have the satisfaction of seeing my team’s efforts make a positive difference to the outcome.
WHAT HAVE BEEN THE BIGGEST CHANGES IN RESTRUCTURING AND INSOLVENCY WORK SINCE YOU FIRST BEGAN PRACTISING?
The work is becoming increasingly global and complex. Many of the engagements we are working on straddle multiple jurisdictions. This drives the need for firms to have a global presence – particularly an offshore presence – and, more importantly, the ability to collaborate and work seamlessly with their counterparts to meet clients’ needs and expectations.
WHAT ARE THE MOST CHALLENGING AND INTERESTING ASPECTS OF WORKING IN AN OFFSHORE JURISDICTION SUCH AS THE CAYMAN ISLANDS?
Given that most global companies have an offshore holding company to achieve tax neutrality in the structure, or to facilitate borrowing arrangements, the Cayman Islands has featured in the majority of high-profile cases. The challenging issues are that the books and records are very rarely held in Cayman – so getting access to information, coordinating a global strategy, and building a solution that you can get stakeholders with competing interests to agree on requires excellent people skills, tenacity and flexibility.
HOW DO YOU PLAN TO DEVELOP GRANT THORNTON’S RESTRUCTURING PRACTICE IN THE CAYMAN ISLANDS OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS?
I see myself as an agent of change. I understand that agility, and adapting to the changing market, are necessary features of a strategic growth plan. I will continue to develop our strategy, strive to deliver the best-quality service to clients, and understand how the demands and needs for our services change. This includes assessing new regions/territories for growth, and developing new service lines to meet the markets’ needs. Not only do I believe in driving business growth by winning new business, I also believe in running an operationally efficient business. Ensuring that the team feels “enabled” and internal processes are effective is fundamental to driving a successful business.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR LEADERSHIP STYLE?
I am a strong believer in leading by example. I hold myself and others to a high standard and inspire those who work with me to join me on the journey. I pride myself on being able to develop a strong team that is driven and motivated by collaboration and growth.
HOW ARE FIRMS ADAPTING TO THE INCREASED GLOBALISATION OF RESTRUCTURING AND INSOLVENCY WORK?
Grant Thornton has continued to be engaged on large and complex assignments, and invests in a talented and experienced team in the Cayman Islands and throughout its offshore centres. Our firm’s focus on developing our service offering in the regions that are important to cross-border and global assignments is a key factor to our success. We work collaboratively with our offshore counterparts – it goes beyond saying “we have an office in Trinidad and Tobago or Cyprus” – we know our partners and colleagues in these countries and have worked with them. That is a powerful message when we are in front of clients delivering a service or pitching for work.
WHAT ARE THE MOST INTERESTING MATTERS YOU’VE WORKED ON?
I have enjoyed the opportunity to lead several cross-border assignments related to the funds industry. Having been appointed a liquidator by the Cayman Court, I’ve been appointed as the foreign representative in several Chapter 15 cases (Platinum Partners, China Medical, William & Patricia Millard). These cases were interesting, complex, and involved cross-jurisdictional issues which required the professional service providers across several jurisdictions to work together. It has been a fascinating journey across many industries – funds, banking, oil and gas, retail, technology and shipping/mining. It is rewarding to have worked on cases (large and small) where the efforts of a hard fought (and often long-running) asset realisation strategy yield results for the creditors and stakeholders.
I’ve enjoyed the forensic and asset-tracing components of international work. I started my career on the world-renowned Bank of Credit and Commerce International case (which apparently was interesting enough for Hollywood to make at least two movies about it), and have been involved directly or via related matters on such high-profile cases as Madoff, Refco, SAAD and Stanford Bank.
More recently our firm has expanded its offering to corporate directorships on some of our distressed engagements. I’m enjoying the opportunity to bring together my business skills and strategic thinking in complex and distressed scenarios.
WHAT IS THE SECRET OF YOUR SUCCESS?
My ability to see the bigger picture and to connect with people has been the largest contributor to my success. I believe in the benefits of seeking out the input of others, listening and collaborating, and I demonstrate this in my day-to-day personal and professional life. I have a demonstrable ability to use technical detail, simplify that into a strategy, and achieve results by investing in and building the right team.