Good Question – unfortunately, we are all inter-connected and we need to consider not only our system, but also the systems that touch us. Back-office service providers, vendors and suppliers, social media, portable devices, downloads and uploads all pose a threat to the integrity and security of your system. System exploitation is no longer a cottage industry – it is a mainstream endeavor by organized crime, unethical businesses and small-time criminals looking for a pot of gold. And it may not be just your company’s information they are after; they may be using you as a portal to access your business partners, employees or customer information. Be sure to obtain a professional assessment of your system – focus on the unknown and develop a mitigation/recovery plan.
There are no experience requirements to call oneself a forensic accountant and auditing/accounting experience is not enough; having a background in professional investigations is an important consideration according to the NYS Society of CPAs. You should also look at the credentials of the executive team – Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF), Accredited in Business Valuations (ABV), Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) are must-haves. Equally important is engaging a team that has proven litigation support and can provide recognized expert testimony. Always hire a team who provides impeccably documented processes and procedures prepared with your legal team’s needs in mind - you never know when you are going to need it.
Background/Experience – As Albert Einstein said, “The only source of knowledge is experience.” Our team and our strategic partners have proven experience with all aspect of Financial Forensics from white-collar crime and litigation support, to M, business valuations, strategic planning and non-traditional funding. This includes not only the academic background, but also the industry experience. This acumen includes, but is not limited to, financial, technology, marketing, and process engineering skills.
Focusing on the Financial Unknown – Imagine having a forensic expert focused on investigation, discovery, and analysis. This unique approach will uncover the whole truth and not just confirm or disprove the apparent considerations. We look beyond the numbers to obtain an objective economic view of the surrounding financial situation taken as a whole. This ability to "focus like a laser" on your business issues plus with your support, ensure that together our team can generate the necessary tangible results in a most impressive time period.
Confidence - Our experiences allow us to bring a high degree of confidence to each engagement. Lakelet Financial Forensics Group is not all things to all companies. We only take engagements where the team has the confidence of delivering tangible results. In many engagements, our team is so confident that we can generate tangible results - our compensation can be directly linked to the delivered tangible results.
Yes, Lakelet Financial Forensics Group is qualified to perform financial forensic work nationally and internationally. Our headquarters are in Western New York and our clients are located throughout the U.S. and Ontario, Canada. We also have strategic business relationships with a number of firms with finely-tuned areas of expertise, including Cyber Security, Public Accountants in the U.S., and Chartered Accountants in Ontario, as well as relationships with international legal and investment banking firms.
There is a chance that a normal accounting audit would reveal suspicious activity, however, a certified and experienced financial forensic accountant is trained to know what to look for and knows how trace the suspicious activity back to its root cause.
Your financial auditor’s focus is going to be on the fair presentation of your financial statements. In the course of establishing assurance to this end, your financial statement auditor may find ‘red flags’ that indicate there is a need for a financial forensic investigation. In addition, a financial forensics engagement with Lakelet Financial Forensics Group will add a basis of assurance on which your external auditor will be able to rely on – this equates to a reduction in required audit work, translating into cost saving for your organization.
Our clients realize other quantifiable, tangible, value-added benefits from engaging us regardless of whether we find they have experienced a loss or damages. LFFG incorporates best practices assessments, business valuations, risk assessment and mitigation, and strategic planning into our engagements. We perform the work discreetly, expediently and with a minimal disruption in workflow.
An experienced forensic accountant has the end in mind; they research and analyze the problem all the while considering ways to recover any missing funds. Lakelet Financial Forensics Group’s forensic accountants have decades of experience and know how to investigate, discover, and analyze what they find on paper and digitally, and should criminal fraud be at play, Lakelet’s experts can assist in litigation and represent your company as an expert witness, which will help you win your case.
Financial auditors’ area of expertise is outside of the required qualifications necessary to perform the investigation, discovery, and analysis involved with financial forensics, and they cannot provide you with the level of service necessary to add value to your organization and remain independent.
Qualified financial forensic professionals possess three primary qualifications: Investigative experience including white-collar criminal/business dispute litigation support; accredited expertise including AICPA Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF), Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP), and Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV); and finely focused processes and procedures with the strategic resources specifically established to provide strategic planning and implementation assistance.
Independence is another issue. Yes, your external auditor can perform a certain level of independent financial assessment. However, they cannot provide you with the necessary strategic planning to overcome challenges, mitigate risks and leverage opportunities and still retain their independence. They certainly can’t – and won’t – see it through by assisting you in implementing the strategy. Lakelet Financial Forensics Group provides independent, qualified financial forensic assistance – we are your partners throughout the engagement from conception to realization.
Lakelet’s approach is to gain an in-depth understanding of your organization, its operating environment, and market potential. Our executive management team is highly regarded internationally with decades of experience and expertise and vast knowledge of the challenges your organization faces. We provide proven solutions.
The time to involve a prosecutor comes not just when criminal fraud is discovered, but when there is substantial, indisputable proof with reliable documentation to support it.
Lakelet Financial Forensics Group takes care to be thorough in collecting any and all necessary data and investigating any suspicious activity found—at length—delving into both the paper and digital trails. A thorough analysis would follow and additional investigations would be conducted as needed for any discoveries of suspicious activity. Once the investigation and analysis is complete, Lakelet provides a thorough and impeccably documented report of its processes and findings. Lakelet’s team is obsessive in their documentation, and because we have experience assisting companies and their attorneys, we know how to support your case in court.
Business valuations are performed for a host of reasons, for example - during a merger or acquisition, for inheritance/bequest or transfer purposes, or as part of an equity/investment offering. These business valuations rely on experienced, accredited professionals. A professional Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV) will draw on their experience, and knowledge of the business and its environment, and apply their expertise to develop a subjective business valuation. Because this process is an art form, independence is required to provide an unbiased valuation.
Business valuations performed for the purpose of determining loss or damages involve ‘but for’ projections; valuations that consider the organization’s value as if the offending event had not occurred. Not only must the present value of the organization be determined, but the loss of future benefits must also be considered. ‘But for’ projections require all the experience and expertise of an ABV professional, plus the expertise of a financial forensic with creditable and respected litigation support experience. Nearly 30% of all insurance claims include fraudulent assertions and up to 20% of claim costs are attributed to fraud. Lakelet Financial Forensic Group’s executive team of Certified in Financial Forensics and Certified Information Technology Professionals has decades of forensic criminal investigative experience. From data discover to expert witness testimony, our team provides impeccably documented processes and findings expediently executed.
Act fast. Time is of the essence when it comes to forensic accounting to ensure that losses don’t continue. When selecting an accountant for your company, consider the following:
Experience. Ask about the accountant’s experience and ensure they have performed a number of engagements in the past; you want an expert.
Certifications. Look for the certification of Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) and/or Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), meaning the forensic accountant has provided proof of their educational and professional background and passed a rigorous forensic accounting exam. Another certification to look for is that of Certified Public Accountant (CPA). When a forensic accountant holds this, along with a financial forensic designation, they have the in-depth, dual knowledge and experience that can help them better detect fraud.
Cost. Cost is always a consideration; however, you should base your decision on value. Engage a forensic accountant who has a record of proven, tangible results.
Lakelet Financial Forensics Group holds these credentials. Our forensic accountants have decades of high-level experience; hold the desired certifications; and not only are we a great value, but we guarantee tangible results. And we exercise discretion, so the investigation will be private to protect your organization’s image.
Yes, and businesses of all shapes and sizes are impacted. In fact, according to identity theft statistics by White Canyon – a leading security provider, businesses lose a whopping $47.6 billion a year! And it’s important to note that businesses don’t have protection like individuals do, so they are not reimbursed for fraudulent charges when they occur.
Here are some tips to help you protect your company:
- Monitor all your financial accounts and bills for unfamiliar charges, no matter how small.
- Use one of the many credit-monitoring bureaus, such as Experian, TransUnion, or Equifax, to monitor your business’s credit report.
- Secure sensitive financial data in password-protected files and under lock and key.
- Ensure transmissions are secure when you have to provide financial or business data over the Internet or via email.
- Shred all financial documents before discarding them.
- Check your business filings with the Secretary of State’s office at least once a year to ensure no changes have been made without your authorization.
- Maintain a safe and secure operating system and run computer virus protection software.
The opportunities and threats of social media reflect the convergence of technological evolution and the challenges of human resource management. Social media is an important element in marketing, public relations and cyber security risk management. For these reasons, social media management should be included in your strategic business plan even if social media is not part of your core marketing and public relations.
For example, say you are a B2B manufacturer of industrial parts with no use of social media relative to customer communications, branding or marketing. But, your staff and managers use personal computers, smart phones, iPads, etc. – either personally or in the performance of their assigned duties. Well, it now becomes clear that there is exposure borne from access to sensitive business information (customer lists, product data, costing structure, manufacturing processes, etc.) and the means to post or even sell that information.
A financial forensic engagement that includes a comprehensive cyber security assessment and risk mitigation strategy should be incorporated into your strategic business plan. During this type of engagement, Lakelet Financial Forensics Group will investigate potential losses and damages that your organization is unaware of – for example, if your intellectual property is available on the black market, they’ll make the necessary discoveries to determine the extent of your exposure – map your systems/processes/personnel; and analyze the information to develop and implement a strategic plan to mitigate risks while leveraging opportunities.
You are correct, business valuation is a significant metric by which you are able to leverage your opportunities through equity/investment offering – and valuations are an art form. If you are acquiring, merging, selling or seeking capital funding it is imperative that you determine the true worth of the organization and identify the financial unknown.
What to watch out for:
- Valuation of the company based on unsubstantiated inputs
- Institutional factors (valuations based solely on generalized equity research)
- The reward and punishment structure that inherently under- or over-values companies
- Valuations performed by firms with a shallow pool of experience or with thin/irrelevant credentials
- Unorthodox methodologies not recognized by the standard setting authoritative bodies
- And the worst – commodity-driven valuations, because they just don’t do the work necessary to provide value
- Engage an independent professional Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV)
- Check the firm’s credentials – be sure you have real investigators Certified in Financial Forensics
- Include a Cyber Security assessment and risk mitigation – technology is embedded in every organization regardless of size or complexity, insist on a Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP)
- Obtain a detailed assessment of data/system integration challenges – don’t buy unknown problems
- Ensure the firm you hire has a focus on adding value to the engagement – with an objective strategic plan and implementation assistance
Our approach is uniquely designed to capitalize upon the particular needs, dynamics and long-term vision required for each situation. We do not use a cookie-cutter approach when doing business. At Lakelet Financial Forensics Group, we pride ourselves on being flexible and customizable with our clients as each case presents unique challenges. Therefore, time and cost will vary based on one’s needs. We would be happy to sit down for a consultation and discuss a personalized plan for you.