Chris is a director in Grant Thornton UK’s forensic practice and leads its anti-bribery and corruption (ABAC) services offering. He has 18 years of experience investigating financial crime and wider misconduct in multiple sectors. Prior to joining Grant Thornton, Chris qualified as a chartered accountant at PwC. He undertakes regulatory and non-regulatory-investigations, and his cases involve presenting findings generated from digital forensic applications and data analytics techniques.
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO A CAREER IN FORENSIC ACCOUNTING?
Investigations are dynamic, and push your intellectual capacity and analytical skills. You are in the privileged position of helping clients to do the right thing when they face serious challenges, and you get to work with talented and committed people. For these and many more reasons, I feel proud of what I do.
I studied economic history as a degree, then chose accountancy because it remains the best and most rounded business qualification there is. I spent time in transaction services, then insolvency, before finding a home in forensic.
WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE CASE YOU HAVE WORKED ON AND WHY?
All of them is the short answer, but I can talk about practically none of them. Memorably, a number I calculated for damages made the front page of the Daily Mail. This was a very high-profile investigation where money had to be paid back by a public institution. Our work frequently ends up with prosecutors and regulatory authorities, particularly UK Bribery Act and FCPA issues. I remember the places I have been, the interesting people I have met and the deliberate or non-deliberate mistakes that individuals can make. I have enjoyed helping organisations change for the sake of their people, and seeing some form of restorative justice happen. There is such cynicism about the way in which business is carried out, so it is great to bring some balance to the debate.
HOW DOES GRANT THORNTON DISTINGUISH ITSELF FOR THE COMPETITION IN THE INVESTIGATIONS SPACE?
Grant Thornton has the scale and reach to handle complex international matters; but more important than that, we stress quality and integrity, and we seek partnerships and long-term relationships with our clients.
Our global network has approximately 800 dedicated forensic practitioners, in 36 jurisdictions and 11 centres for digital forensic services. Our cases are led by senior people from start to finish. We keep our teams lean, and work collaboratively with external legal advisers. Also, we stress the importance of forensic accountancy and digital forensic skills in the work that we do.
AS A DIRECTOR AT THE FIRM, WHAT ARE YOUR PRIORITIES FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE PRACTICE GROUP?
As a group, our focus is on growth markets by geography and sector. We have a duty to keep interpreting how macroeconomic, societal and regulatory changes impact our clients.
We will continue to have broader risk conversations with leading UK and global organisations, NGOs and other thought leaders. It is our reach and experience which makes this meaningful in terms of how we can provide support.
WHAT POSES THE GREATEST CHALLENGE IN FINANCIAL INVESTIGATIONS?
Botched data and information capture, not having clear objectives and dealing with investigation fatigue or resistance. If evidence is damaged, this will have ramifications for proving your legal case or gaining cooperation with law enforcement or a regulator.
Agreeing who is doing what, and who is in charge of what, means the investigation lands properly when it is meant to. Communication on process and planning at every stage keeps stakeholders on board.
Some stakeholders may not want an investigation to reach its conclusion. Unless clear indications of wrongdoing are determined quickly and placed within the wider business context (so that they cannot be conveniently rationalised), it is possible that the engagement will be shut down early. Forensic accountants understand that a factual narrative needs to be created that includes commercial imperatives and consequences, and will work to build this early and continuously.
IN WHAT WAYS HAS THE ADVENT OF BIG DATA CHANGED INVESTIGATIONS PRACTICE?
Today, the world’s data is measured in zettabytes. Data is a business enabler, but it now extends to every fibre of an organisation. Modern investigations are data-driven, meaning all repositories need to be identified, and strategies for securing them and reviewing them proportionate.
Drawing accurate and meaningful conclusions from big data is a growing challenge for the modern investigator, but volumes and time frames are manageable with the right techniques. We often deploy “supervised machine learning” or “predictive coding” procedures for unstructured data review. While the techniques of the forensic accountant have grown, the core “human expert” skills remain.
The growth in structured/semi-structured data is no less impactful, and business decisions still come from these MI systems. We use data analytics and visualisation applications. Clients respond well to heat maps, dashboards and real-time monitoring.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNGER PRACTITIONERS WHO MIGHT HOPE TO EMULATE YOUR CAREER?
Let me buy you a coffee, and let’s understand what makes you happy at work and builds on your talents. I’ve always liked what Steve Jobs said about this: “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Investigations teams are meritocratic, even if we have different leadership roles.
Chris Boddy is held in high esteem by clients who continue to be “impressed by his attention to detail and integrity”.
Chris is a director in Grant Thornton UK’s forensic practice and leads its anti-bribery and corruption services offering. He has 18 years of experience investigating bribery and corruption, fraud and asset misappropriation, and other financial crimes. He undertakes regulatory and non-regulatory-led investigations in multiple sectors, including financial services, construction, infrastructure, energy, telecommunications, logistics and life sciences.
The work that Chris does brings commercial clarity to challenging situations, and complements legal and other remediation strategies. Chris’ current caseload includes domestic and emerging (frontier) markets investigations where he has assisted clients self-report to US and UK law enforcement. Chris is experienced at interviewing targets in regulatory matters, and has produced written reports, which have been used in both civil actions and criminal prosecution.
Chris has led investigations in which he has presented findings generated from the use of digital forensic applications. This has included the use of data analytics over structured and unstructured data.
Prior to joining Grant Thornton, Chris qualified as a chartered accountant at another large accountancy firm, where his experience included the collapses of Lehman Brothers, MG Rover and Independent Insurance. He also worked on the collapse of the Saad Group at Grant Thornton.
Chris acts for corporates, banks, law firms, pension trustees, insolvency office holders, NGOs, other public bodies and regulators. He undertakes compliance programme reviews and forensic audits, and provides training regarding fraud awareness and investigations best practice. He is a regular public speaker and produces thought leadership on financial crime topics.