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posted: 3/12/2020 1:00 AM

Certification key to building trust, elevating competence in turnaround industry

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  • Scott Y. Stuart

    Scott Y. Stuart


The Chicago area is home to nearly 1,600 professional organizations, many of whom offer certifications to members who meet certain requirements for knowledge or experience.

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Realtor, or Board Certified physician are examples of professionals who have demonstrated knowledge and expertise in a particular field, beyond what is required by law. Certifications and credentials are methods of industry self-regulation that protect consumers by establishing and enforcing standards and codes of professional conduct. Earning a professional certification can advance your career and distinguish you from others in your field, and may be faster and more cost-effective than an MBA or other advanced degree.

Much like advanced degree programs, professional certifications are a powerful way to expand one's business network. Most certification programs maintain online directories to drive business and promote those who have earned the distinction. There may be exclusive networking opportunities or other 'perks' only available to certified professionals at your industry association or in your company.

Achieving a certification demonstrates commitment to your field and often requires continuing professional education, but can also open the door to speaking opportunities and other ways to promote yourself as a thought leader. By investing in your career through certification, you can differentiate yourself as a subject matter expert and a leader in the advancement of your industry.

Turnaround Management Association members are involved in every aspect of corporate restructuring, renewal, and corporate health -- they are attorneys, accountants, advisors, liquidators, consultants, and many others. Our members do more than advise companies that file for Chapter 11 -- they diagnose and treat common (and uncommon) conditions that can adversely affect an entity's health and value. Like physicians, when brought in early, turnaround professionals can manage and reverse early warning indicators of business decline. TMA members do business together based on the commitment to integrity and ethical practice found in TMA's Code of Ethics.

The Certified Turnaround Professional credential was created in 1993 to distinguish professionals with the proven knowledge, experience, and integrity to conduct corporate restructuring and business transformation work. As the field involves much more than Chapter 11 bankruptcy, CTPs must demonstrate their knowledge of accounting and finance topics, legal principles, and management concepts germane to corporate restructuring work by passing three certification exams. Candidates must also possess broad and deep experience in corporate renewal, validated by work history and written confirmation by clients and colleagues. This combination distinguishes CTPs from others.

The 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act directs courts to consider whether a professional person is certified or has otherwise demonstrated skill and experience in the bankruptcy field. Many judges, who are also TMA members, state that they look to professional certifications such as the CTP when awarding compensation to professionals involved in court-approved restructuring plans.

Today, nearly 500 individuals hold the CTP designation, and another 50 have earned the Certified Turnaround Analyst (CTA). CTAs have demonstrated the same knowledge of corporate restructuring and turnaround principles but have not yet amassed the requisite experience to become CTPs. CTAs may also work in different capacities relevant to turnaround, such as commercial lenders or real estate professionals. By earning these credentials, CTAs and CTPs help to raise awareness of and respect for the vital work done in corporate restructuring -- work that can prevent plant closures, mass layoffs, and the dissipation of hard-earned value.

•Scott Y. Stuart, esq., is chief executive officer of the Chicago-based Turnaround Management