What Is a Certified Insolvency & Restructuring Advisor (CIRA)?

A Certified Insolvency & Restructuring Advisor (CIRA) is a professional certification available to individuals who specialize in working with businesses that are going through the process of bankruptcy, restructuring, turnaround, or insolvency. These professionals might be forensic accountants, financial advisors, business consultants, attorneys, trustees, investment bankers, lenders, or other related professionals.

The CIRA designation provides both additional training and professional recognition for individuals who receive the certification. To become certified, candidates must have previous specialized accounting or financial experience in business turnaround, restructuring, and insolvency, along with passing a rigorous board exam. To maintain their certification, CIRA holders must take courses to meet their continuing education requirements.

Key Takeaways

  • A Certified Insolvency & Restructuring Advisor (CIRA) is a certification for professionals who work with companies going through insolvency, restructuring, or bankruptcy. 
  • Many kinds of finance or accounting professionals may seek to become CIRA certified; these include forensic accountants, business consultants, trustees, investment bankers, bankruptcy specialists, and financial crisis managers.
  • To earn the CIRA certification, candidates must successfully complete a three-part course and written examination.
  • The CIRA coursework covers turnarounds, bankruptcies, plan development, financial reporting, taxes, and ethics.
  • CIRA candidates must also have five years of financial or accounting experience and 4,000 hours of specialized experience in restructuring and insolvency.

Understanding a Certified Insolvency & Restructuring Advisor (CIRA)

The Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Advisors (AIRA) is a nonprofit association for professionals working in the bankruptcy, insolvency, and restructuring fields. In 1992, AIRA created the Certified Insolvency & Restructuring Advisor (CIRA) program to provide a certification process for those individuals that demonstrate a high level of expertise in assisting clients through bankruptcy and other distressed situations.

The CIRA exam is broken down into three parts. The first part is managing turnaround and bankruptcies. The second part is plan development and the final part involves financial reporting, taxes, and ethics.

Before enrolling in the CIRA program, candidates must meet certain prerequisites. They must be a member of AIRA in good standing, hold a Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university, and have approval of their program application and course registration.

Requirements for Certified Insolvency & Restructuring Advisor (CIRA)

Professionals looking to achieve CIRA certification will need to meet a variety of requirements showing their expertise and dedication to the field. AIRA lists the following requirements for the certification. 

Course Completion and Passing of Exam

CIRA candidates must successfully complete all three parts of the course and pass a written exam within a three-year period of the date of the first course taken.

Professional and Ethical Conduct

Candidates must agree to uphold a code of professional and ethical conduct. This code covers standards regarding competence, client confidentiality, integrity, objectivity, and due care.

Accounting/Financial Experience

Candidates must have five years of accounting or financial experience, which may be completed while they are enrolled in the program. Candidates can apply their relevant experience in various fields toward meeting this requirement. For example, relevant experience includes work in public accounting, investment banking, claims management, crisis management, credit management, financial or operational consulting, or similar experience in the government sector.

Specialized Experience

Candidates must show proof of having completed 4,000 hours of specialized and diverse business experience within a specified time frame. Examples of specialized experience include performing duties as a:

  • Financial advisor for a trustee, debtor, creditor, or equity holder committee
  • Business turnaround specialist, including business receivers and reorganization management or consultants
  • Bankruptcy trustee, bankruptcy examiner, or accountant for an examiner
  • Lender working in special assets or loan restructuring

The candidate must also complete and submit at least two case studies demonstrating specialized experience.

References

The candidate must submit three experience and character reference letters. These letters should reflect the candidate's character and professional experience with respect to handling client issues regarding insolvency, bankruptcy, and distressed business restructuring.

Benefits of Becoming a Certified Insolvency & Restructuring Advisor (CIRA)

Advising and assisting companies that are undergoing the stress and uncertainty of a major business disruption requires tremendous skill. Troubled companies might need guidance on everything from pre-bankruptcy planning, liquidation analysis, operational restructuring, debt renegotiation, and exit strategies.

A CIRA certification can help give a professional a competitive advantage over others who have not completed the rigorous course and examination process demonstrating their competency in the field. The advanced training, combined with the requirement to keep updated through continuing education, helps the professional enhance their skills and increase their efficiency.

In general, certifications from recognized programs can help professionals build and maintain their credibility and potentially help their earnings potential over the long-term. Some of the largest accounting and financial advisory firms in the world—such as KPMG International and Deloitte—employ professionals who have earned the CIRA certification.