Jeremy Priestley is managing partner of The P&A Group, one of the largest independent insolvency and debt collection firms in the UK, acting for multinational PLCs and financial institutions as well as accountants, solicitors, business directors and individuals.
Over the last decade the firm has grown rapidly, particularly in debt and asset recovery, through a mix of creating new services and products and acquisitions. It has offices in Leeds, London, Glasgow and Ireland and the group employs 150 people.
Jeremy took over his father’s insolvency practice, P&A, when he was just 26 years old. He has never forgotten the help and support that the local business community gave him then and he has tried to repay this over the years by helping other businesses.
Jeremy was given an early piece of advice which has helped him grow P&A: “My mentor said that every year I should invest some of our profit back into a new venture. It should be money you can afford to lose and you need a downside plan if the new idea doesn’t work. This keeps a business innovating but managing the risks.”
The P&A Group is a very local firm, providing specialist support to the many smaller accountancy firms in the region when their clients become insolvent or need to restructure. But it is also international with some of the world’s largest corporate names as its clients - P&A collects debts across Europe for major internet and technology companies.
In his line of work, Jeremy sees a lot of businesses in distress. He believes the biggest lesson that others can learn from this is to focus on cash. That means cutting costs, chasing debts, being on top of the books - knowing where you are making money in the business - and also investing.
He puts this into practice in P&A. The business invests heavily in staff training and development, IT and management systems and has grown by recruiting good quality people to develop new areas and develop new sides of the business or by making acquisitions.