Forensic accountants typically help clients prepare and analyze financial evidence in the context of civil or criminal actions, such as fraud, embezzlement, or other financial irregularities in transactions. They review data that often exists in many different formats and locations and as such, face challenges in using this information effectively. CDS Senior Consultant Nicole Guyer discussed some of these issues at the recent CalCPA FSS Forensic Services Section Joint Sections Meeting. Her topic was Teaming Up With eDiscovery Counsel to Address the Challenges of New Data Sources and Formats and addressed how eDiscovery counsel can work together with forensic CPAs to meet their discovery obligations and make the best use of technology resources that impact both counsel and CPAs.
The program attendees encompassed the 4 main areas of forensic accounting: Family Law, Business Valuation, Economic Damages and Fraud Investigations. As illustrated by Ms. Guyer, eDiscovery tools and processes offer significant benefits in each of these areas. Technology is evolving and it is important for forensic accountants to understand various data sources and formats including email, computer, mobile, social media, Jira, Slack, Skype for Business, WhatsApp, GSuite and others. They also should recognize the need to preserve data for possible use in litigation. Notably, clients who did not upload data into a database, which would enable more effective searching and analysis using eDiscovery tools like Relativity, faced greater time or human resource challenges than those who did use such software.
The impact of technology on forensic engagements was also an important point in the Keynote presentation on The Role of Machine Learning in Forensic Engagements. A Data Scientist with Google’s Internal Audit team discussed how CPAs and their clients can use artificial intelligence in their processes and forensic engagements. At CDS, machine learning and predictive coding are essential components of every eDiscovery project. It enables more efficient and accurate reviews.
eDiscovery technologies have broad potential to help companies with their investigations, compliance, security and information governance beyond what is needed for litigation. CDS speaks regularly to professionals about customizing technology to meet their needs. Our thanks to CalCPA FSS Forensic Services Section for inviting Ms. Guyer to speak.
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