March 2010

CIRAs: Well Equipped for Economic Crisis

Current economic conditions have created great demand for services of financial experts trained in the area of insolvency and restructuring. Rendering financial advisory services in the business turnaround, restructuring and bankruptcy practice areas requires both specialized knowledge and relevant experience.

In 1992, the Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Advisors (AIRA) sought to meet the need for a standard of recognized expertise in this field by establishing the Certified Insolvency and Restructuring Advisor (CIRA) program. The CIRA designation is awarded to financial advisors who have demonstrated a high level of competency through completion of a thorough course of study, rigorous examination and 4,000 hours of relevant experience.

The CIRA Program is comprised of three parts:

  • Part One: “Managing Turnaround and Bankruptcy Cases,” covers an introduction to bankruptcy and the process of business turnaround, including financial statement analysis of troubled companies, prebankruptcy planning, dealing with creditors and their committees, and special investigations for preferences and fraudulent transfers.
  • Part Two: “Plan Development,” deals with the development of Chapter 11 plans, determination of going-concern and liquidation values, financing turnarounds, plan negotiation, establishment of classes of creditors and shareholders, plan confirmation, and tax issues and impacts.
  • Part Three: “Accounting, Financial Reporting and Taxes,” includes accounting for the operations of the Chapter 11 debtor during bankruptcy, adoption of fresh start accounting, and reporting on emergence from Chapter 11. Also included in part three is a discussion of retention and fees of financial advisors, litigation services guidelines, and tax considerations.

Over 3,500 people have taken one or more parts of the CIRA exam. AIRA has issued a total of 1,170 CIRA certificates; another 480 individuals have passed all three parts of the exam and are in the process of completing certification requirements. Financial advisory firms with the largest number of CIRAs and candidates who have completed all three parts include FTI Consulting Inc. (83), Alvarez & Marsal LLC (60), AlixPartners, LLP (57), KPMG LLP (34), and Deloitte (30).

A recent recipient of the CIRA certificate stated, “It’s worth mentioning what a challenging and positive experience the CIRA program has been for me. I have ‘collected’ a handful of certifications and found the CIRA — with the exception of the CPA — to be the most difficult. Furthermore, the information and body of knowledge of the CIRA course has proven absolutely relevant to my practice.”

Comments from other candidates include, “I learned a great deal about bankruptcy, restructuring and turnaround — I will be more knowledgeable on the job;” “[The instructor] is very knowledgeable, engages the class and has great examples to share;” and “Material is very helpful; grounded in examples and much clearer than reading the mini code.”

CIRA certification courses are offered throughout the year in various U.S. cities. Additional information on the AIRA and CIRA course schedules are available online at