Will Davies
Office:
30 Finsbury Square
EC2P 2YU
City:
London
Country:
England
Tel:
+44 20 7865 2545
Fax:
+44 20 7865 2296

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Investigations

Will Davies leads Grant Thornton UK’s forensic team, where he has solidified and built a thriving practice over the past four years. Under his guidance, the practice has almost doubled in revenues and by number of senior practitioners. Will is an experienced forensic accountant and expert witness. He has acted on some of the largest disputes in recent years, including a number arising out of the credit crunch. WWL: Investigations 2017 describes Will as being “used to dealing with massive investigations and always goes the extra mile for his clients” while WWL: Arbitration 2017 directory describes Will as being “fantastic to work with, he is much in demand due to the quality of his work and depth of his experience”.

DESCRIBE YOUR CAREER TO DATE

I studied my articles in the audit department of what was then one of the “big eight” (now big four) accountancy firms. This offered a great grounding for my accountancy career, with work ranging from the preparation of accounts for smaller businesses through to the audit of large global PLCs. I gained brilliant experience across the life of businesses from start up, through fundraising (grant work and corporate finance work) to ultimately failure (insolvency and corporate restructuring).

However, when auditing I kept discovering a large number of frauds and accounting errors. Surprisingly auditors do not typically find frauds. This prompted an invitation to establish a litigation support team (“forensic accounting” as a term had not yet entered the common vernacular), an opportunity I grasped with both hands and never looked back.

I joined Grant Thornton 15 years ago and have thoroughly enjoyed the experiences and culture of this firm.

LOOKING BACK OVER YOUR CAREER, WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT?

Two things, really.  

I have had the pleasure of working on some of the largest and most complex cases in the UK and overseas, a number of which are now leading and reported cases. These have been challenging from both the stamina and commitment point of view through complexity and dealing with multiple work streams and people, to the challenge of managing strong-minded clients.

That said, my appointment to head Grant Thornton’s UK forensic accounting unit has been my greatest honour. Being trusted to lead strategy and our investment in people has been hugely rewarding. I am particularly inspired to see a new generation of exceptional talent coming through our practice, and impressed by the dedication and commitment to excellence shown by them.

WHAT IS THE SECRET OF YOUR SUCCESS?

That is very much for others to answer, but for me, I think my old school motto nid da lle gellir gwell (“it’s not good if it can be better”) has been important. Also surrounding myself with people who cover the areas where I am weakest has also helped (these are many by the way!). I have found that people (like children) live up or down to expectations. Therefore, it is best to give them something to live up to. 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUNG PRACTITIONERS STARTING OUT ON A CAREER IN FORENSIC ACCOUNTING?

Get the right training (the foundations are so very important), plan your career and focus on the big strategic things, and get a mentor. I have enjoyed the guidance of a number of people over the years and their advice has been priceless.

HOW DO YOU PLAN TO DEVELOP YOUR PRACTICE OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS?

More of the same I think. 

So long as people see value in my work, I will continue to work hard with focus and diligence. But also, “legacy” is very important to me. I read once that ‘leaders leave a trail of leaders’ and this is something I will follow for the rest of my career.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN CHALLENGES FACING PRACTITIONERS IN THE FORENSIC INVESTIGATIONS SPACE GOING FORWARD?

I believe there are three main challenges currently: globalisation, data and cyber. While it seems the world is truly getting smaller, as a global society volumes of information are exploding from all individuals and companies. On top of this, it is difficult for entities to keep pace with technology and the risk facing businesses and countries from fraudsters and hostile parties has never been greater. The aphorism “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” has never been more relevant.

IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU THINK THAT TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENT IS LIKELY TO IMPACT GLOBAL FORENSIC INVESTIGATIONS?

The most recent years have seen a remarkable acceleration in data volumes, and complexity in data storage and security. This will continue. We are now at an interesting crossroads. Effective data capture will remain critical to the success of investigations, but we will see more “data analytics” and “big data” and the development of artificial intelligence. That means more “data scientists”. GDPR and ethical privacy considerations around the use of data will also become ever more important. That, therefore, means more lawyers.

WHICH INDUSTRY SECTORS ARE CURRENTLY BUSIEST IN YOUR PRACTICE?

Financial services remain as buoyant as ever and we are seeing growth in telecoms, energy and pharma.

That said, looking at the question in a slightly different way, the big global issues, such as nationalism (eg, Brexit and sanctions), crime (eg, cyber), technology change (eg, cyber and data analytics), and paradigm changes (eg, the move to electric powered vehicles) will prove most interesting in the future. We live in interesting times.

Biographies:

Who's Who Legal Arbitration: Expert Witnesses

Will leads Grant Thornton's forensic and investigations practice in the United Kingdom. He is an experienced forensic accountant with a proven track record in complex disputes (including international arbitration). Will has undertaken forensic accounting assignments since 1993 and has vast experience in contentious matters, often in high-profile cases. Will has given written evidence on over 400 occasions and oral evidence in over 30 cases.

Will's experience in disputes matters is wide-ranging and covers valuations, commercial transactions, breach of contract, professional negligence, loss of profits, matrimonial, insurance claims, claims following insolvency, libel, financial product close-outs and other derivatives-related matters.

Will has been appointed as expert in proceedings in both the United Kingdom and overseas jurisdictions, including the United States, Guernsey, the BVI, Malta, Gibraltar, Germany, Dubai and Bulgaria. While most of these matters have settled, Will has given evidence in the UK High Court and in various arbitration arenas (ICC and BCC (Bulgaria)).

Will qualified as an accountant with a legacy PwC firm in their audit practice, before specialising in forensic accountancy from 1993. Will co-founded a boutique investigations and forensic practice in 1997, and joined Grant Thornton as a partner in 2002.

Will has advised clients and acted as expert in a wide range of industries, including financial services (particularly insurance, banking and asset management), manufacturing, energy, retail, media, health care, pharmaceuticals, professional services and construction.

WWL says: Will Davies is an esteemed forensic accountant and impresses market sources with his high-quality reports and expert testimonies. 

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Arbitration which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Investigations: Forensic Accountants

Will is an experienced forensic accountant specialising in complex multi-jurisdictional financial investigations and commercial disputes. His work covers many of the world's offshore financial locations, the Middle East, Europe and North America. His sector experience covers financial services (especially banking and insurance), private equity, pharma, manufacturing and energy.

Will has acted in a number of large reported financial services investigations and civil disputes including: Calyon v IKB Deutsche Industriebank Aktiengesellschaft (2011); Financial Guaranty Insurance Company and FGIC UK Limited v IKB Deutsche Industriebank Aktiengesellschaft (2011); Investec Trust (Guernsey) Ltd and Other v Glenalla Properties Limited and Others (the Oscatello litigation) (2012); and Deutsche Bank AG v Sebastian Holdings Inc (2013). He is currently engaged in a substantial multibillion-dollar multiparty multi-jurisdiction asset-tracing exercise spanning Europe, the Middle East and the Caribbean.

Will is regularly retained by regulators (in Europe and the Caribbean), liquidators/receivers, corporates, lawyers and private equity funds in sensitive and typically very complex matters. He specialises in bringing together teams from different disciplines and locations to deliver timely, clear and objective evidence for his clients.

Will has also carried out numerous UK-based fraud and irregularity investigations (both civil and criminal) including POCA 2002 matters, search and seize operations, SFO investigations, black hole investigations and insider trading allegations.

Will also has extensive experience acting as an expert witness in courts and at arbitrations and has given evidence on over 30 separate occasions. He regularly speaks at international conferences on financial investigations and disputes.

Will is a fellow member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, having qualified as a chartered accountant in 1992.

WWL says: Will Davies has built up an impressive forensic and investigations practice and is widely recognised for his “superb expertise”.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Investigations which can be purchased from our Shop.

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