OBITUARY:Bernard Phillips

Bernard Phillips was for more than a generation a doyen of the insolvency profession.

The youngest of five children, he was raised by his Jewish immigrant parents in the East End of London. Whilst medicine fascinated him, perhaps as a result of his tuberculosis as a child, economic necessity had him articled at 16 and a chartered accountant at 21. He joined his elder brother, Percy, and built an accounting practice that, by the 1950s, represented to the business community of the West End what Kenneth and Norman Cork's practice, Cork Gully, represented to the City. In his early practising years Phillips decided to wear clear spectacles because he appeared too young for his qualifications and evident ability.

During the 1950s and 1960s the burgeoning fashion industry had many casualties, but there were few of its members who did not receive voluntarily, or otherwise, the benefits of the skills of the Phillips brothers, two of the first company doctors. Bernard Phillips's enduring contribution was to the institutionalisation of a small group of accountants specialising in insolvency work. He recognised the need to co- ordinate the skills and learning of a few unregulated specialists into a dynamic professional body. His determination to excise any "cowboy" elements and develop a respected next generation of practitioners was visionary.

In 1982 he was uniquely honoured with the presidency of the Insolvency Practitioners Association having just a few years earlier been its chairman. He was largely responsible for protecting the multi-disciplinary insolvency profession from an attempted takeover by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, a misguided power play which he sensed would always remain a threat. Paradoxically, earlier in his career he had resisted pressure to become a barrister so as not to lose his valued chartered accountancy qualification - a sacrifice that today would no longer be necessary.

Bernard Phillips and Company was the stable which trained many of today's leading insolvency practitioners, including John Talbot at Arthur Andersen, Chris Morris at Touche Ross and Phillips's own son Peter at Buchler Phillips.

In 1979 his firm joined Arthur Andersen to form that international organisation's first insolvency division. In Ian Hay Davison, Arthur Andersen's then managing partner, Bernard Phillips found a kindred spirit; pioneering, creative, forceful and articulate. The Law Society regularly sent its members to watch Phillips conduct meetings of creditors to hone their public speaking skills.

Phillips's contributions extended well beyond those to his profession. In his early years as a formidable atheist intellect and powerful orator and debater, he was a member of the Hampstead Parliament (a debating society), once famously having taken on the role of the Communist Chancellor of the Exchequer presenting his Budget.

For many years he worked for the Peckham Settlement, with Lady Howe of Aberavon and Maureen Davison. The settlement runs a community centre for local residents in Peckham, south London, including a low-pay nursery, pensioners club and advice centre. Phillips also did voluntary work for the Mary Ward Settlement in Bloomsbury, offering financial advice at weekly surgeries.

Retirement from Arthur Andersen at the age of 74 gave him time, much of which he committed to two Sussex charities, the Lionel House Trust (a home for young people), of which he was a founder, and Worthing Victim Support, of which he was immediate past chairman.

An active man in every respect, Bernard Phillips was jet-skiing in his beloved Cyprus on his 80th birthday, he attended his last Labour Party Conference in October last year and performed on a local stage at Ferring, West Sussex, in lycra leggings only three weeks before his death.

G. A. Weiss

Bernard Phillips, insolvency practitioner: born Liverpool 7 October 1914; senior partner, Bernard Phillips and Company 1952-82; senior insolvency consultant, Arthur Andersen 1982-88; President, Insolvency Practitioners Association 1982; married 1938 Pat Clayton (one son, one daughter; marriage dissolved 1963), 1964 Lillian Tavendale (two daughters); died Worthing 24 January 1996.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee