Jack Torpey 9 Nov 2016 11:29am

Diary of a forensic accountant: Part 3

On a typical day, there is a wide variety of different tasks to be completed, from preparing calculations to writing reports to attending meetings, interacting with owners of a range of businesses, senior claims professionals from the insurance industry and various representatives from the legal profession

Caption: The third in a series which examines dealing with explosive insurance claims

On one such day, my first job was to finalise a calculation I had started the previous evening. We were assisting insurers in relation to a factory explosion in Asia, calculating the loss of profit suffered by both the company where the incident occurred and the group as a whole. We were in the finishing straight on this job, having spent over a year reviewing a huge amount of documents.

The final piece of the jigsaw was provided overnight by an industry expert from Australia, a member of the adjustment team, and I needed their technical input on how long repairs should have taken in order to finalise our calculation. This was a high-profile case in the specific insurance sector in which we work, so the eyes of the great and good were upon it. The calculations had to be correct.

I then had a conference call with solicitors and counsel on an arbitration matter. The claimant had submitted witness statements in support of its claim which I reviewed and I needed to communicate how these witness statements impacted our calculation to the legal team.

Read more from our diary of a forensic accountant series

My next task was a meeting with the CEO of a fast-paced business in the financial sector who were claiming for a significant loss of profit following a flood of their premises, resulting in a loss of power. The purpose of this initial meeting was to understand the business and how it had been impacted by the incident, as we had to provide the insurers with a reserve calculation shortly after the meeting. A reserve calculation is an estimate of how much insurers should include as a contingent liability in their accounts in relation to their financial exposure to each incident.

At this meeting I was given a tour of the building and it was clear that they were by no means back to “business as usual”, with the incident having occurred four days ago. This was vital information in relation to the reserve calculation as I was initially informed the business was only affected for a single day - the loss is therefore potentially four-times higher than initially thought.

On my way back from this meeting I checked my emails and was pleasantly surprised to see that we had finally received a response to a document request list sent seven months ago on a product liability case, where a European company supplied defective material to a UK business. There’s a lot of information to get through, and this wasn’t on today’s “to-do” list, so when I returned to the office I asked one of my colleagues to assist. This exposure to a live job will be valuable for their development as the best way to fully understand and appreciate our role as forensic accountants is to learn from experience.

Read more from our diary of a forensic accountant series

Finally, I begin drafting a joint statement for a partner to review. This case, an alleged breach of contract by a foreign manufacturer, is likely to go to court early in the new year. We are instructed by the claimant in this matter and the process has involved various meetings and telephone calls with the management team of the company in question, again to understand the business but also the industry in general. This is to ensure our calculation accurately reflects the loss of profits incurred by the claimant. After making some progress, I add it to the top of my ‘”to-do” list for the next day.

I can safely say that no two days have been the same. Each job requires us to learn about a new business somewhere in the world, which keeps the work fresh, interesting and also provides opportunities to travel. This variety of work and the skills it develops makes the long hours that are sometimes required more than worthwhile.

Jack Torpey is a manager in the London office of RGL Forensics, where he focuses on forensic accounting and financial investigations.


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