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Thought Leader

WWL says

Jean Chow-Callam is “personable, direct and easy to communicate with”. She “knows the US market so well and also understands the issues in China”.

Questions & Answers

Jean Chow-Callam is a managing director with A&M, and is based in Los Angeles. She has over 25 years of experience in financial crimes, compliance and investigations, including matters involving accounting misstatement and internal controls, US SEC 10b-5, fraud, risk assessments, FCPA, bribery and corruption, sanctions, and US court or DOJ-appointed monitorships. She specialises in complex investigations for global multinational companies; supporting counsel; and reporting to boards, management, special committees, external auditors and regulatory agencies.

What attracted you to forensic accounting as your specialty? 

To be a successful forensic accountant, one needs to be creative in problem-solving and finding solutions; have an ability and passion to understand financial numbers, books and records, internal controls; and be able to think strategically, combined with racing against time to prioritise and complete exceptional work for clients. After being an auditor at a Big Four accounting firm and having held multiple executive positions in industry in accounting, finance and operations, I found I was able to use all the above-mentioned skill sets as a forensic accountant, and can provide value to multinational corporations.

What challenges are posed by coordinating global investigations across Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Shanghai?

A global investigation, whether involving regulatory agencies or not, is always challenging. When government agencies are involved, the goal is to be one step ahead of the regulators, anticipating what is needed from the investigation, in order to suffice for cooperation credit, especially under the Corporate Enforcement Policy. As a senior-level professional with fluency in the Chinese language and an understanding of Chinese culture, I help clients put together global teams that use each professional’s skills and expertise. Being able to advise counsel and client, thinking with both the US and Chinese mindsets, is a big plus. It also helped me realise, in addition to the usual challenges in investigations, there are other challenges to be considered, which can be easily resolved with the right team in place. These other challenges include:  time zone differences, and ensuring all work is completed and reviewed on a timely basis, especially when multiple teams in multiple jurisdictions are working on different shifts; and language capabilities when documents are in both English and the local language. Another challenge is staffing the engagement with professionals that have experience dealing with cross-border investigations, and using their skill set to their fullest strength by assigning the team members to the appropriate functions (professionals from different cultural backgrounds and training experience would have different mindsets). The other challenge I would mention is anticipating what the government would like to see, and being prepared.

It is very important to keep in mind who your audience is, and in which country the work is being conducted. It is definitely a big advantage that I am able to switch gears on demand in languages and in my investigative approach, so nothing is lost in translation; to be able to direct my investigative team to carry out our tasks accordingly; and to advise counsel in a timely manner.

In what ways is artificial intelligence impacting investigations practice? 

For both structured and unstructured data, big data is the future. As companies are spending more and more funds on their IT departments, automating processes, and retaining and storing data, artificial intelligence is used to improve business performance. The same goes for government agencies. For example, the SEC is using big data to catch insider trading, and predicative coding is used in email reviews in investigations. This changes the dynamics of the investigations or consulting team, as it is important that we work closely with counsel and our technology colleagues, to fully leverage the capabilities of artificial intelligence and big data analytics. 

How does Alvarez & Marsal distinguish itself from competitors in the market?

Our “client-first” approach ensures that we are available when needed and flexible as appropriate, and proactively advise on the latest methodologies. Furthermore, the close relationship we have within our integrated services across our firm means we are not isolated and can bring other experts and skill sets, including from international locations to projects, as required. 

What are the greatest issues facing forensic accountants today?

As investigations and forensic accounting is becoming a popular profession, the consulting market has people with varying backgrounds performing forensic accounting investigations. Being able to present the client with the most qualified professionals for their specific matter at hand is important to complete the investigation most effectively and efficiently.

How did your role as an SEC-selected expert enhance your practice? 

I learned first-hand the high level of diligence the SEC performs to ensure the expert with the appropriate background and experience is selected to work as an independent testifying expert for the SEC. In my view, it is critical that forensic experts be selected by counsel and company with that same rigour because it is imperative that a high level of professionalism and expertise be maintained, regardless of whether one is working for a government agency or for the company. I see my selection as expert as a great experience for myself and a big endorsement to my credibility for my clients. It helps me take that experience in working with the government into future assignments working with clients.

What part does compliance have to play in modern-day investigations? 

With more and more companies adopting strong tone at the top and good corporate citizenship, and stressing the importance of corporate governance, compliance departments are becoming a very important part of an organisation globally. With many of the good compliance professionals in-house, it is important for us to add value when we are hired to carry out functions that can further strengthen and support the in-house compliance department, whether in risk assessment or investigations. One example would be to assist companies in the use of big data effectively and then to ensure activities are truly in compliance by transaction testing to analyse findings, so we can help the in-house compliance department solve problems that they do not have the resources for during their day-to-day functions.

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Jean Chow-Callam is a “standout name” in the US and Asian markets, and is highly regarded among peers for her reverse merger and accounting irregularities expertise. 

Biography

Jean Chow-Callam is a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal disputes and investigations based in Los Angeles. She is a CPA, CFE, CFF, and CGMA with more than 25 years of experience in forensic accounting, FCPA, financial crimes, anti-corruption, compliance, governance, global risk assessment, auditing, fraud and financial investigations, internal controls, and other financial statement related matters, including Qui Tam and False Claims issues. Jean is fluent in Chinese.

Ms Chow-Callam specialises in corporate internal investigations, securities litigation, and other white-collar crime investigations resulting from the US GAAP and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reporting violations and/or from Department of Justice (DOJ) violations; she works on behalf of companies, for counsel to companies, boards, audit committees, special committees, and for the US DOJ appointed monitors. She has also assisted clients with matters involving the SFC (Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong); serves as an expert for the US SEC; and testified in front of the tribunal of CIETAC (China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission).

Ms Chow-Callam has conducted and managed engagements in the United States, Europe, Latin America, and Asia. Prior to joining A&M, she served as the Asia leader of US Regulatory and Anti- corruption during her secondment in Hong Kong for her previous firm from 2011 to 2016.

In addition to US SEC investigations and corporate internal investigations, Ms Chow-Callam often advises clients on cross-border issues and anti-corruption, compliance, and corporate governance, using her past industry experience as a controller, CFO, and compliance officer. She has significant experience in a variety of industries including medical device, pharma, technology, manufacturing, aerospace, real estate and financial services. She has also opined on various accounting, compliance and cross-border issues. Ms Chow-Callam started her career in audit at a Big Four accounting firm.

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

"She is able to apply her Mandarin skills to provide in-depth analysis"
"Jean is a very discreet expert - a must in this industry"

Biography

Jean Chow-Callam is a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal disputes and investigations based in Los Angeles. She is a CPA, CFE, CFF, and CGMA with more than 25 years of experience in forensic accounting, FCPA, financial crimes, anti-corruption, compliance, governance, global risk assessment, auditing, fraud and financial investigations, internal controls, and other financial statement related matters, including Qui Tam and False Claims issues. Jean is fluent in Chinese.

Ms Chow-Callam specialises in corporate internal investigations, securities litigation, and other white-collar crime investigations resulting from the US GAAP and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reporting violations and/or from Department of Justice (DOJ) violations; she works on behalf of companies, for counsel to companies, boards, audit committees, special committees, and for the US DOJ appointed monitors. She has also assisted clients with matters involving the SFC (Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong); serves as an expert for the US SEC; and testified in front of the tribunal of CIETAC (China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission).

Ms Chow-Callam has conducted and managed engagements in the United States, Europe, Latin America, and Asia. Prior to joining A&M, she served as the Asia leader of US Regulatory and Anti- corruption during her secondment in Hong Kong for her previous firm from 2011 to 2016.

In addition to US SEC investigations and corporate internal investigations, Ms Chow-Callam often advises clients on cross-border issues and anti-corruption, compliance, and corporate governance, using her past industry experience as a controller, CFO, and compliance officer. She has significant experience in a variety of industries including medical device, pharma, technology, manufacturing, aerospace, real estate and financial services. She has also opined on various accounting, compliance and cross-border issues. Ms Chow-Callam started her career in audit at a Big Four accounting firm.

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