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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Laureen Ryan

Laureen Ryan

Alvarez & Marsal600 Madison Avenue, 8th FloorNew YorkNew YorkUSA10022

Thought Leader

Thought Leaders Global Elite - Forensic Accountants 2021

Q&A

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Laureen Ryan has vast experience in forensic investigations and regularly leads complex matters involving accounting reconstructions and GAAP accounting.

Questions & Answers

Laureen Ryan is a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal who advises boards, corporations and stakeholders to help resolve high-stakes financial, regulatory and legal issues. Over the past 25 years, she has been engaged to investigate, assess, oversee, monitor and report on various banking and corporate activities, including those related to compliance, financial reporting and internal controls. She is also frequently engaged to testify in cases involving accounting and forensic issues; and complex economic, valuation, solvency and financial matters. 

What inspired you to pursue a career in forensic accounting?

Early in my career I had the opportunity to work on interesting client matters that involved investigations and disputes, and decided to specialise in this space. I am drawn to the challenge of unravelling financial and compliance puzzles for businesses, non-profits, government entities and individuals, using precise processes and a systematic investigation of data. Working on bankruptcies, asset misappropriations, financial statement fraud, contract disputes, damage calculations, shareholder disputes and a variety of corporate internal inquiries provides me with a broad portfolio of opportunities and experience.

Attorneys use my forensic accounting skills to assist in translating complex financial issues into concepts that are easily understood, and these financial issues are often a key factor in the ultimate outcome of the lawsuit. My application of forensic accounting involves a combination of quantitative skills, such as accounting, auditing and finance, along with certain qualitative abilities, such as persistence, creativity, judgement, discretion and concise-communication skills. This collection of attributes, combined with an inquisitive mind, enables me to investigate and assess the financial merits, as well as the integrity, of the distinct aspects of a litigation case.

What trends are you noticing in the practice area at the moment?

Practitioners are increasingly relying on and developing new uses for technology. This augments the required skill set from pure critical analysis to a working knowledge of technical aspects such as data set management and analytics, various data sources, normalisation techniques, visualisation, and delivery of analysis that goes beyond plain numbers.

Another trend is the enhanced need for interpersonal skills in light of the emphasis on technology, and the ability to really listen; to analyse responses based on data and facts; to interpret non-verbal cues; and to understand varying cultural backgrounds. 

I also see the need to develop a skeptical mind that fully understands what is being conveyed and then proceeds to verify the purported facts with diligence. Developing a sceptical mind is a lifelong pursuit.

Finally, I see a trend for credentials in valuation services. Financial modelling often refers to the “valuation” of companies, and the current valuation standards carve out an exclusion for valuation services rendered in connection with litigation. Both these trends threaten to dilute the time-tested valuation services that CPAs perform. The profession may see a change in terminology to distinguish it from the colloquial financial market use. In addition, litigation-based standards may be established to enable a level playing field between professionals who adhere to the standard and those who provide valuation services under the cover of the current exception.

What do clients look for in an effective forensic accountant?

A capable forensic accountant should have strong knowledge of accounting and financial analysis; curiosity; discretion; sound professional judgement; and an ability to listen effectively and communicate clearly. A good forensic accountant must also be able to consider alternatives, scrutinise the fine details and, at the same time, see the big picture. 

What steps can companies take to ensure they are agile in the face of increasing compliance requirements?

Organisations that fully understand their organisational regulatory requirements are well positioned to assess if changes to the programme infrastructure would be required to keep pace with the dynamic environment. The organisation should continuously identify and assess its compliance programme and the implications for its activities, products and services. 

A well-designed framework for compliance encompasses multiple components that drive prevention, detection and response across the three lines of defence. In a compliance framework, the business process owners are the first line of defence; compliance and centralised risk management functions are the second; and internal audit is the third. Each line of defence plays an important role in the organisation’s overall compliance framework and governance. The three-lines-of-defence model aids organisations in promoting compliance agility, identifying emerging risks, and clarifying the compliance programme’s strengths and weaknesses. This model will also promote better communication between stakeholders to proactively address any emerging compliance-related issues. 

Compliance should ideally be integrated across the business and positioned to contribute to business decisions, and adapt to the changing business and regulatory environment. Compliance should also ensure employees are trained on the code of conduct and key components of the compliance and ethics programme. With greater integration and well-designed training programmes, compliance leaders can take immediate steps to enhance compliance effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability. Finally, integrating forensic accounting and analytics resources into traditional compliance functions gives chief investigators and legal and compliance professionals a tremendous opportunity to drive better business transparency with increased agility, which in turn drives better business performance. 

How does Alvarez & Marsal distinguish itself from the competition?

We believe in an integrated approach combining the experience, skills and knowledge of our various experts across business lines to provide a tailored solution to our clients’ problems. This involves not only the services within our disputes and investigation practice, but also the broad range of other A&M services and industry specialisations. Combined with our experts’ deep involvement on all matters, these skills across our global platform enables us to deliver a differentiated and strategically focused services to our clients.

WWL says

Laureen Ryan earns praise as a "technically skilled" and "impressive" practitioner.

Questions & Answers

Laureen Ryan is a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal who advises boards, corporations and stakeholders to help resolve high-stakes financial, regulatory and legal issues. Over the past 25 years, she has been engaged to investigate, assess, oversee, monitor and report on various banking and corporate activities, including those related to compliance, financial reporting and internal controls. She is also frequently engaged to testify in cases involving accounting and forensic issues; and complex economic, valuation, solvency and financial matters. 

What inspired you to pursue a career in forensic accounting?

Early in my career I had the opportunity to work on interesting client matters that involved investigations and disputes, and decided to specialise in this space. I am drawn to the challenge of unravelling financial and compliance puzzles for businesses, non-profits, government entities and individuals, using precise processes and a systematic investigation of data. Working on bankruptcies, asset misappropriations, financial statement fraud, contract disputes, damage calculations, shareholder disputes and a variety of corporate internal inquiries provides me with a broad portfolio of opportunities and experience.

Attorneys use my forensic accounting skills to assist in translating complex financial issues into concepts that are easily understood, and these financial issues are often a key factor in the ultimate outcome of the lawsuit. My application of forensic accounting involves a combination of quantitative skills, such as accounting, auditing and finance, along with certain qualitative abilities, such as persistence, creativity, judgement, discretion and concise-communication skills. This collection of attributes, combined with an inquisitive mind, enables me to investigate and assess the financial merits, as well as the integrity, of the distinct aspects of a litigation case.

What trends are you noticing in the practice area at the moment?

Practitioners are increasingly relying on and developing new uses for technology. This augments the required skill set from pure critical analysis to a working knowledge of technical aspects such as data set management and analytics, various data sources, normalisation techniques, visualisation, and delivery of analysis that goes beyond plain numbers.

Another trend is the enhanced need for interpersonal skills in light of the emphasis on technology, and the ability to really listen; to analyse responses based on data and facts; to interpret non-verbal cues; and to understand varying cultural backgrounds. 

I also see the need to develop a skeptical mind that fully understands what is being conveyed and then proceeds to verify the purported facts with diligence. Developing a sceptical mind is a lifelong pursuit.

Finally, I see a trend for credentials in valuation services. Financial modelling often refers to the “valuation” of companies, and the current valuation standards carve out an exclusion for valuation services rendered in connection with litigation. Both these trends threaten to dilute the time-tested valuation services that CPAs perform. The profession may see a change in terminology to distinguish it from the colloquial financial market use. In addition, litigation-based standards may be established to enable a level playing field between professionals who adhere to the standard and those who provide valuation services under the cover of the current exception.

What do clients look for in an effective forensic accountant?

A capable forensic accountant should have strong knowledge of accounting and financial analysis; curiosity; discretion; sound professional judgement; and an ability to listen effectively and communicate clearly. A good forensic accountant must also be able to consider alternatives, scrutinise the fine details and, at the same time, see the big picture. 

What steps can companies take to ensure they are agile in the face of increasing compliance requirements?

Organisations that fully understand their organisational regulatory requirements are well positioned to assess if changes to the programme infrastructure would be required to keep pace with the dynamic environment. The organisation should continuously identify and assess its compliance programme and the implications for its activities, products and services. 

A well-designed framework for compliance encompasses multiple components that drive prevention, detection and response across the three lines of defence. In a compliance framework, the business process owners are the first line of defence; compliance and centralised risk management functions are the second; and internal audit is the third. Each line of defence plays an important role in the organisation’s overall compliance framework and governance. The three-lines-of-defence model aids organisations in promoting compliance agility, identifying emerging risks, and clarifying the compliance programme’s strengths and weaknesses. This model will also promote better communication between stakeholders to proactively address any emerging compliance-related issues. 

Compliance should ideally be integrated across the business and positioned to contribute to business decisions, and adapt to the changing business and regulatory environment. Compliance should also ensure employees are trained on the code of conduct and key components of the compliance and ethics programme. With greater integration and well-designed training programmes, compliance leaders can take immediate steps to enhance compliance effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability. Finally, integrating forensic accounting and analytics resources into traditional compliance functions gives chief investigators and legal and compliance professionals a tremendous opportunity to drive better business transparency with increased agility, which in turn drives better business performance. 

How does Alvarez & Marsal distinguish itself from the competition?

We believe in an integrated approach combining the experience, skills and knowledge of our various experts across business lines to provide a tailored solution to our clients’ problems. This involves not only the services within our disputes and investigation practice, but also the broad range of other A&M services and industry specialisations. Combined with our experts’ deep involvement on all matters, these skills across our global platform enables us to deliver a differentiated and strategically focused services to our clients.

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Laureen Ryan is a nationally and internationally renowned expert with deep experience in valuations and financial quantification. 

Biography

Laureen M Ryan is a managing director in Alvarez & Marsal’s disputes and investigations practice. She specialises in accounting/forensic investigations and compliance, and disputes with complex economic, valuation, solvency and financial issues. With over 25 years of experience, Ms Ryan has advised boards, corporations and stakeholders to help resolve high-stakes financial, regulatory and legal issues. She has also been appointed by various courts, retained by examiners, and engaged at the request of the NYS Banking Department, US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the DOJ, to investigate, oversee, monitor and report on various banking and corporate activities, including those related to compliance, financial reporting and internal controls.

She has led complex multinational investigations, including those involving FCPA and qui tam allegations, and has presented her findings to the SEC, NYS Banking Department, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, US Bankruptcy Court, corporate boards and other venues and constituents. Further, in her fiduciary roles as responsible officer, Chapter 11 trustee and liquidating trustee of various entities in the US and abroad, she conducted investigations, prepared valuation estimates, pursued litigation and resolved complex business, accounting and financial matters.

Ms Ryan has testified, written expert reports, and provided advice in civil and criminal matters in various venues in the US and the ICC International Court of Arbitration. The issues related to financial reporting, regulatory inquiries, financial transactions, escheatment, capital compliance, antitrust, accounting reconstruction, GAAS audits, GAAP accounting, fraud allegations, FCPA and qui tam issues, Ponzi schemes, asset diversion, accounting irregularities, over-billing and other fictitious billing and loan schemes, post-acquisition disputes, contract provisions, cost allocations, solvency and viability, preferences, damages, business valuation, bankruptcy litigation, lost profits, insurance claims, loans and securities. She has also served as a mediator for the Supreme Court of the State of NY.

Ms Ryan has worked across a broad range of industries, including financial institutions, mutual funds, private equity, hedge funds, broker/dealers, mortgage warehousing, structured finance products, derivative instruments, sub-prime and Alt-A loans, student loans, health care and medical claims, cable/telecommunications, hospitality/restaurants, casino/gaming, franchising, manufacturing, auto dealerships/auto parts manufacturing, insurance, real estate, insurance, explosives/mining, trucking, railroad, food distribution and publishing.

Prior to joining A&M, Ms Ryan was a senior managing director at FTI Consulting providing investigation and dispute services. She was instrumental in building FTI's forensic and litigation consulting practice and held various executive leadership positions, including Northeast regional leader and global expansion leader.  In addition, she worked at an affiliate in Sydney, Australia.

She began her career with Ernst & Young (EY) where she provided audit and advisory services in the New York and London offices. She was also a member of EY’s national financial services office where she monitored the audit risk profile of banks and thrifts, provided accounting, auditing and regulatory advice for the US and abroad, and worked on matters involving allegations of accounting malpractice and fraud.

Ms Ryan earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and economics from SUNY at Oswego. She is a certified public accountant (CPA), certified fraud examiner (CFE), accredited business valuer (ABV), certified distressed business valuer (CDBV) and certified insolvency and restructuring adviser (CIRA). She is also a founding member of the International Women’s Insolvency and Restructuring Confederation (IWIRC).

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Laureen Ryan has vast experience in forensic investigations and regularly leads complex matters involving accounting reconstructions and GAAP accounting. 

Biography

Laureen Ryan is a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal who advises boards, corporations and stakeholders to help resolve high stakes financial, regulatory and legal issues.

Over the past 25 years, she has been engaged to investigate, assess, oversee, monitor and report on various banking and corporate activities including those related to compliance, financial reporting and internal controls.  She is also frequently engaged to testify in cases involving accounting / forensic issues and complex economic, valuation, solvency and financial matters.

The complex multinational investigations led by Ms Ryan, including those involving allegations of fraud, accounting irregularities, FCPA and qui tam violations, resulted in presentations to the SEC, NYS Banking Department, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, US Bankruptcy Court, arbitration panels, corporate boards and other constituents. She is also often retained to investigate and assess the value of potential causes of action and then assist in resolving these matters and securing recoveries in a cost-effective manner.

Many of her cases involve fiduciary roles such as examiner, monitor, responsible officer, Chapter 11 or 7 trustee, litigation trustee and liquidating trustee in the US and abroad. Recent examples include SunEdison, WMC Mortgage, Firestar Diamond, and the Caesars Entertainment bankruptcies.

Ms Ryan has testified, written expert reports, and provided advice in civil and criminal matters in various venues in the US and the ICC International Court of Arbitration. The issues related to financial reporting, regulatory inquiries, escheatment, capital compliance, antitrust, accounting reconstruction, GAAS audits, GAAP accounting, fraud, FCPA and qui tam allegations, Ponzi schemes, asset diversion, accounting irregularities, over-billing and other fictitious billing and loan schemes, post-acquisition disputes, contract provisions, cost allocations, solvency and viability, preferences, damages, business valuation, bankruptcy litigation, lost profits, insurance claims, and loan, securities and other financial transactions. She has also served as a mediator for the Supreme Court of the State of NY.

Ms Ryan has worked across a broad range of industries, including financial institutions, mutual funds, private equity, hedge funds, broker/dealers, mortgage warehousing, structured finance products, derivative instruments, sub-prime and Alt-A loans, student loans, health care and medical claims, cable/telecommunications, hospitality/restaurants, casino/gaming, franchising, manufacturing, auto dealerships/auto parts manufacturing, insurance, real estate, renewable energy, biofuels, insurance, explosives/mining, trucking, railroad, food distribution, and publishing.

Prior to joining A&M, Ms Ryan was a senior managing director at FTI Consulting providing investigation and dispute services. She was instrumental in building FTI's forensic and litigation consulting practice and held various executive leadership positions, including Northeast Regional leader and global expansion leader. In addition, she worked at an affiliate in Sydney, Australia.

She began her career with Ernst & Young (EY) where she provided audit and advisory services in the New York and London offices. She was also a member of EY's national financial services office where she monitored the audit risk profile of banks and thrifts, provided accounting, auditing and regulatory advice for the US and abroad, and worked on matters involving allegations of accounting malpractice and fraud.

Ms Ryan earned a bachelor's degree in accounting and economics from SUNY at Oswego. She is a certified public accountant (CPA), certified fraud examiner (CFE), accredited business valuer (ABV), certified distressed business valuer (CDBV) and certified insolvency and restructuring adviser (CIRA). She is also a founding member of the International Women's Insolvency and Restructuring Confederation (IWIRC).

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Laureen Ryan earns praise as a "technically skilled" and "impressive" practitioner.

Biography

Laureen Ryan is a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal who advises boards, corporations and stakeholders to help resolve high stakes financial, regulatory and legal issues.

Over the past 25 years, she has been engaged to investigate, assess, oversee, monitor and report on various banking and corporate activities including those related to compliance, financial reporting and internal controls.  She is also frequently engaged to testify in cases involving accounting / forensic issues and complex economic, valuation, solvency and financial matters.

The complex multinational investigations led by Ms Ryan, including those involving allegations of fraud, accounting irregularities, FCPA and qui tam violations, resulted in presentations to the SEC, NYS Banking Department, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, US Bankruptcy Court, arbitration panels, corporate boards and other constituents. She is also often retained to investigate and assess the value of potential causes of action and then assist in resolving these matters and securing recoveries in a cost-effective manner.

Many of her cases involve fiduciary roles such as examiner, monitor, responsible officer, Chapter 11 or 7 trustee, litigation trustee and liquidating trustee in the US and abroad. Recent examples include SunEdison, WMC Mortgage, Firestar Diamond, and the Caesars Entertainment bankruptcies.

Ms Ryan has testified, written expert reports, and provided advice in civil and criminal matters in various venues in the US and the ICC International Court of Arbitration. The issues related to financial reporting, regulatory inquiries, escheatment, capital compliance, antitrust, accounting reconstruction, GAAS audits, GAAP accounting, fraud, FCPA and qui tam allegations, Ponzi schemes, asset diversion, accounting irregularities, over-billing and other fictitious billing and loan schemes, post-acquisition disputes, contract provisions, cost allocations, solvency and viability, preferences, damages, business valuation, bankruptcy litigation, lost profits, insurance claims, and loan, securities and other financial transactions. She has also served as a mediator for the Supreme Court of the State of NY.

Ms Ryan has worked across a broad range of industries, including financial institutions, mutual funds, private equity, hedge funds, broker/dealers, mortgage warehousing, structured finance products, derivative instruments, sub-prime and Alt-A loans, student loans, health care and medical claims, cable/telecommunications, hospitality/restaurants, casino/gaming, franchising, manufacturing, auto dealerships/auto parts manufacturing, insurance, real estate, renewable energy, biofuels, insurance, explosives/mining, trucking, railroad, food distribution, and publishing.

Prior to joining A&M, Ms Ryan was a senior managing director at FTI Consulting providing investigation and dispute services. She was instrumental in building FTI's forensic and litigation consulting practice and held various executive leadership positions, including Northeast Regional leader and global expansion leader. In addition, she worked at an affiliate in Sydney, Australia.

She began her career with Ernst & Young (EY) where she provided audit and advisory services in the New York and London offices. She was also a member of EY's national financial services office where she monitored the audit risk profile of banks and thrifts, provided accounting, auditing and regulatory advice for the US and abroad, and worked on matters involving allegations of accounting malpractice and fraud.

Ms Ryan earned a bachelor's degree in accounting and economics from SUNY at Oswego. She is a certified public accountant (CPA), certified fraud examiner (CFE), accredited business valuer (ABV), certified distressed business valuer (CDBV) and certified insolvency and restructuring adviser (CIRA). She is also a founding member of the International Women's Insolvency and Restructuring Confederation (IWIRC).

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