David Turner is a senior managing director at FTI Consulting based in Washington, DC, where he leads the data and analytics group for the Americas and serves as the DC office coordinator. For more than 20 years, he has provided consulting services to clients in the areas of data analytics, focusing on event-based transactions. His concentrations include complex data analysis; dispute resolution; investigation; regulatory and litigation response; IT consulting; and business performance improvement.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN DATA ANALYTICS?
I joined Arthur Andersen 20 years ago as a general practitioner in the economic and financial consulting practice. With a background in commerce, I’d previously had an internship that gave me the opportunity to design and manage an operational MS Access database – my first exposure to large structured data. I possessed more technical experience than many of my peers, and so a career of data analytics took off from there. What started as experience managing “hundreds of thousands of records” gradually become tens, hundreds and ultimately billion-plus record sets.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST INTERESTING CASE TO DATE, AND WHY?
I served as the systems and database expert for Toyota Motor Corporation during its response to the sudden acceleration cases. This was a massive undertaking, with inquiries from global regulators and a subsequent large multi-district litigation class action. We had a chance to work alongside some of the sharpest attorneys, and had a dedicated and proud client determined to defend its company. The outcome of the case had the client pleased, and though long and arduous, the technical approaches and data strategies we developed were truly game-changing and revolutionary.
HOW HAS THE DATA ANALYTICS TEAM ADAPTED TO THE CHALLENGES CAUSED BY THE EXPONENTIAL INCREASE IN DATA USED IN INVESTIGATIONS?
It certainly requires the data experts to be smarter and more efficient. Clients can get paralysed by the volume and depth of disparate data. It is critical in an investigation to be focused and targeted, and to avoid performing analysis for analysis sake. A favourite client of ours coined the phrase “let’s not oar around in the data”, which really resonated with me. Assessing the data, developing a targeted workplan, iterating hypotheses smartly and efficiently, and focusing on delivering insights effectively and timely in a way that non-data professionals can translate – that’s what our clients expect when they engage FTI.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT YOUR CURRENT ROLE AS LEADER OF THE FIRM’S DATA AND ANALYTICS GROUP THAT YOU ENJOY MOST?
Leading our team of brilliant data analytic professionals is a true honour. I’ve had the pleasure of working with many members of our 130-plus global team since their first years out of university. It’s been invigorating being part of, and witness to, their growth from task-oriented consultants to leaders of workstreams and projects, and ultimately managers of client relationships. We’ve established a culture of excellence based on training and continuous development that has had folks interested in spending a great part of their professional career here.
WHICH QUALITIES DO BLUE-CHIP CLIENTS LOOK FOR IN A TOP-FLIGHT DATA ANALYTICS EXPERT?
Having a strong technical aptitude is a key – that means individuals who are interested in constantly evolving their skillset in platforms such as SQL analytics, Python, R, visualisation techniques, etc. But having an insatiable desire to problem-solve, and being genuinely enthused about helping clients solve complex problems – that’s the key. I remind our new hires that clients are bringing us in because they have massive problems that they are unable to solve themselves, as much as they’d like to. As such we have a great responsibility, and an opportunity, to execute solutions for them. It’s a great feeling watching our younger data analytics professionals deliver on this promise.
WHAT IMPACT HAS THE INCREASINGLY CROSS-BORDER NATURE OF CORPORATE INVESTIGATIONS HAD ON DATA ANALYSIS AND INVESTIGATORY STRATEGIES?
The confidentiality and privacy of our clients’ data is one of the primary concerns at the onset of any matter. Our large regulatory investigations are almost entirely cross-border now, so it’s crucial to consider these factors when planning and scoping a matter. There are challenges with certain venues that are well established (eg, China, Germany, broader EMEA post-GDPR), but we’re seeing more and more issues across the broader geographical spectrum.
IN WHAT WAYS DOES FTI CONSULTING DISTINGUISH ITSELF IN THE DATA ANALYTICS SPACE?
Efficiencies from a more senior and leaner team. We have an approach that we’ve branded “augmented analytics”; essentially using emerging techniques such as natural language processing, and clustering to bridge the gap between what was historically disparate sets of data. For example, emails, text messages, millions of records of transactional data, social media commentary on perception: historically these have been analysed and mined in a vacuum. But our clients demand more insight from this data. Technology and techniques are allowing us to do this.
HOW WILL DATA ANALYTICS PRACTICE CHANGE IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?
The rate of change and volume of data that’s available just within the past several years has exploded. We’ve all seen the multitude of statistics (90 per cent of global data is less than 720 days old; 50 billion smart devices by 2020). But a metric that is most amazing is that companies are only using 10-15 per cent of its available data. That number is incredibly inefficient and there is so much value that’s currently unlocked. While I never recommend boiling the ocean, having dedicated data analytics offerings at companies will become the norm. Professional services firms will need to learn how to thread that needle, while continuing to offer independent expertise in specific matters.
David Turner is lauded as a “first-choice” practitioner by clients, and is renowned for advising a range of Fortune 500 companies in relation to complex data analysis and acquisitions.
David Turner is a senior managing director and co-leader of data and analytics at FTI Consulting and is based in Washington, DC where he leads the data and analytics group and serves as the Washington DC office manager and forensic and litigation segment coordinator. For more than 20 years, Mr Turner has provided consulting services to Fortune 500 clients in the areas of data analytics, focusing on event-based transactions. His concentrations have included complex data acquisition and analysis, dispute resolution, investigation, regulatory and litigation response (including experience with FCPA and OFAC violations), information technology consulting and business performance improvement. Mr Turner was named in 2017 by Who’s Who Legal as one of the top 40 global data experts.
Mr Turner has extensive experience conducting corporate investigations, where he has handled complex analysis and strategies for issues arising from FCPA and anticorruption enforcement, corporate inquiries, OFAC sanctions, whistleblower actions, audit board issues, and asset liability management, most recently in the financial services, pharmaceutical and automotive industries.
He is an expert in providing complex data analytics for litigation and investigation support, including detailed document and data interrogations and management, ERP consulting and analysis, including the application of emerging and innovative technology to create client solutions that leverage enhanced and efficient automation.
He also has significant engagement management experience including developing with and maintaining client relationships, multifaceted project planning and management work plans, supervising and training senior and staff consultants and managing and meeting all engagement deadlines and budget requirements. Mr Turner has for the past 16 years trained professionals in areas of financial damage calculation, economic and financial modeling, and engagement management, database design and development, and insurance allocation theory.
Prior to joining FTI Consulting, he managed economic and financial consulting services at Arthur Andersen and information technology and process improvement consulting at Capital One Financial.
Mr Turner holds a BS in commerce with concentrations in finance and marketing from the University of Virginia, and is a member of the Information Governance Initiative (IGI) and is an advisory board member for Back on My Feet DC.