Quite often IPs have an accountancy background. A few active practitioners are lawyers, but it is not necessary to be qualified as either, as since 1986 there has been a direct entry route to the profession.
Insolvency is a regulated profession under the Insolvency Act 1986  and anyone who wishes to practise as an IP needs to pass the three examination papers set by the Joint Insolvency Examination Board (JIEB) and meet the authorising body's insolvency experience requirements. Licences are issued by the following recognised professional bodies:
As a "competent authority" under the Insolvency Act 1986, the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) - and, for Northern Ireland, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment - also authorises IPs. The Insolvency Service , an executive agency of BERR, oversees insolvency regulation in Great Britain and each authorising body is represented on the Joint Insolvency Committee, which aims to develop and maintain insolvency standards and best practice guidance, largely by means of Statements of Insolvency Practice (SIPs) .
There are currently around 1,500 Licensed Insolvency Practitioners in the United Kingdom, not all of whom take appointments – various lawyers hold licences but rarely use them to take appointments, preferring to advise other practitioners.
Under UK law, unless the Official Receiver already holds office, the following types of formal insolvency procedure must be dealt with by a Licensed Insolvency Practitioner: