It came as a shock to realize that I had not updated this website for over a year. As a specialist forensic accountant focusing on fraud, money laundering and regulatory tax matters, this past year has been busier than ever, and finding time to write has been difficult, especially when I have taken up improving my Greek language skills in my spare time!
It has been interesting to see a shift in the focus of my work over the past year or two. I still deal with a range of criminal fraud and proceeds of crime cases for my criminal defence solicitor clients, but am increasingly tasked with civil disputes including substantial tax matters and complex commercial disputes. This has been a welcome development because there is no sign of the authorities improving their derisory hourly rates for legally aided work! Perhaps the current round of spending (it is a Wednesday morning in March 2020 – UK budget day – as I write this article) will improve the criminal defence budget generally?
Another realisation is that I have now been running my specialist forensic accounting business for over ten years. During that time I estimate that I have worked on over 300 cases, involving the preparation of a similar number of expert accountant’s reports to be disclosed in mainly criminal prosecutions, various tax investigations and other cases where the quantity and movements of wealth is in question. As I sit here during a spare hour delaying my return to the examination of another batch of accounting records and witness statements, I wonder where my business will be in another ten years time?
The current spread of the Coronovirus virus is bound to make many of us think about our future. I worry about my parents of course, and about my daughter who travels around the globe in her profession. I am concerned about the economic impact that the infection is having (not least on my pension savings!) but to be honest, I believe that this time next year the perceived impact of the disease will have faded somewhat, markets will have rallied and we will will be focusing on something new. However, what does tend to happen in such downturns, albeit that those downturns may be temporary, is that the criminal fraudsters and the sharp businessmen seize their opportunities for exploitation and the messes that they create will keep the regulators, the courts and the forensic accountants busy in the coming years.
I believe that the current problems may even strengthen the world, and in particular the UK that, realising its past increasing reliance on supply markets such as China, should adapt and be grateful for the opportunity for consolidating home production. Globalisation may make a few people wealthy, but we are now seeing the perilous nature of too heavy reliance on outside sources. Trade is important, but balance is key, and hopefully we can see a better situation develop not just in the UK but globally. Forensic accounting is a somewhat isolated service in that it is not reliant on external inputs other than in respect of the tasks it is asked to address. Thus there is no need for me to make any adjustments to my business for the Coronavirus outbreak, and hopefully I can weather the current storms and look forward to updating this article favorably in ten years time! My best wishes go out to everybody and hope that they see their own safe outcome to this problem within a short time.