Allan joined Farber in 1991. Much like Gary Lifman, he was a frustrated chartered accountant looking for something more—leading him to firm-founder Alan Farber. “The practice was growing and Alan urged me to try my hand at an insolvency assignment and then another—and here I am 28 years later!” Now, with almost three decades under his belt, Allan has seen huge changes since joining Farber, “when I started, there were only ten of us and the office was too small for even that number. If you got up from your desk you lost your seat,” Allan jokes.
Fast forward to 2019 and Allan now co-leads the firm’s corporate restructuring practice, which involves him in a broad range of insolvency and financial advisory mandates, cross-border restructurings, and fraud & forensic investigations. “They’ve been interesting times and I’m proud of what we’ve all accomplished together” Allan reminisces.
The Magic Man
Those who know Allan are aware that he carries another identity—a magician with a passion for sleight of hand. “Ever since I was a kid, I was fascinated with magic…I guess I never grew up!” During his early working days and before his family expanded to include three incredible kids, Allan performed seriously as a professional, moonlighting at corporate events.
He was also a regular performer at A Little Night Magic—a dinner theatre on Lombard Street where he would entertain guests with close-up miracles prior to the stage show. “I still enjoy performing magic for family, friends, and business connections. I always have a deck of cards with me—it’s my therapy—you never know when you’re going to be called on to create a magic moment.”
Being an illusionist, after all, is creative performance art and Allan sees some strong parallels with his life in the business world at Farber. “It’s all a form of creative problem-solving. Magicians try to create the illusion that something impossible has just happened—building a story with many important details and then hitting you with the magic ‘A-HAH’ moment. As in our business, you often need a solution that may not be immediately obvious.”
Shutterbug and Travel Bug
Allan is also a keen photographer, having been influenced by his father, who was also a shutterbug. “I learned to shoot “old-school” with my dad’s Leica cameras and spent hours creating images in our darkroom,” Allan recalls.
His interest in photography fits perfectly with his family’s passion for travel. He always has his camera with him when travelling. Like magic tricks, photographs capture that perfect fleeting moment and when the light is just right, you have a perfect image or story. “Death Valley in Nevada is one of my favourite photographic destinations,” he admits.
As a South African by birth, he also has a special connection to the African landscape—staying close to his roots. On the work front, travel has allowed him to connect with insolvency colleagues all over the globe, particularly other INSOL Fellows and our partners in BTG Global Advisory. “We’re all trying to achieve a similar end-game in helping companies through challenging times, even if under different rules and with local nuances. You really expand your mindset by collaborating internationally,” Allan shares.
Make Your Mark While Doing What You Love
To Allan, success is simply doing something you love, being excited by the challenge and working with a purpose. “We’ve developed a very human thread to everything that we do at Farber, in an environment where our multi-talented professionals collaborate to make business better. And it may be 40 years, but it feels like we’re just getting started. We have a very unique culture at Farber, and you have the flexibility to make a unique mark. That’s what I like.”
Now that’s MAGIC!
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