In February, TMA Global Chair David Cohen and I attended the fourth annual TMA Eastern European Conference hosted by Erste Bank in Vienna, Austria. Bringing together nearly 150 turnaround professionals, lawyers, capital providers, and others, this meeting represented a who’s who of the profession from across the Continent and, indeed, the globe.
The conference’s programmatic theme centered on non-performing loans (NPL) with a panel dedicated to current NPL balances across the Eastern European region and an effort by the European Central Bank to establish NPL guidelines. One high-level takeaway from the conference is that NPL balances in the region will continue to offer opportunities for the TMA membership.
I have attended every one of these conferences and am struck by a theme that has run through all of them: the concept of helping to give companies a second chance. Over the past four years I have been consistently impressed with the optimism and enthusiasm members from this region have for their future. TMA’s two newest chapters, Bulgaria and Ukraine, speak to that future. Yes, there are challenges. But the turnaround and insolvency professionals that make up TMA aren’t afraid of challenges. In fact, they revel in them.
Part of the challenge for the region in general is the fact that their market-based economies, like their democracies, are young and maturing all at about the same time. This puts simultaneous stress on the entire region, which if not managed effectively could lead to a broad economic downturn, social unrest, and possibly a move away from democracy. Such an environment could give rise to a nationalist despot who says, “We tried this whole capitalism thing and it didn’t work. I know a better way.” Sound extreme? It’s happened before.
Turnaround, restructuring, and insolvency professions play a vital role in the global economy. The ability to have a second chance drives entrepreneurship, innovation, and, most importantly, economic growth. Providing companies and the individuals that run them with a path to a better future is what TMA members do, and I can’t think of a time when this was more important. From California to Romania, from Brazil to Singapore, from the United Kingdom to Australia, from Calgary to South Africa, and everywhere in between, TMA members are on the front lines working through disruption and driving results. TMA is truly a global community of exceptional professionals!
I wish you all a safe and prosperous spring and look forward to seeing you at TMA events in the future.