Comparing professionals – are they all alike?

When buying a washing machine or car, it is possible to compare the features of each product, consider what is important – speed, reliability, cost of operation, or brand. We can also read reviews or articles about the merits of various brands and models or simply go to a comparison website.

It is different when considering the services of a professional, whether a lawyer or forensic accountant. There are no comparison websites or reviews for a client to go to. Some may think that forensic accountants are all alike, but the differences in quality and ability might be as dramatic as between a Volkswagen and a Bentley.

Cars do not oppose one another, but we forensic accountants do, when appointed by a party to litigation, and usually each party will have their own forensic accountant. The client has to ensure that they appoint someone who is as good as, or better, than their opponent’s expert. Some may assume all accountants have the same technical ability, industry experience, ability to draft clear and compelling reports, and will give good, clear evidence in the witness box. This is wrong and not all experts have the same skill. Some conduct themselves better than their opponents in meetings and in conflict situations.

So, how does the client know whether the forensic accountant is good, and will they be better than their opponent’s accountant?

If the client has past experience of a forensic accountant, that can be used as a guide, but we sometimes hear of clients being let down. Clients have choices, and should do their research and ask for recommendations from colleagues. Appointing a professional just because they are from a well-known firm will not always guarantee quality or service. By doing their homework a client can ensure that they appoint the right expert for their case.

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With the festive season upon us, the pressures of work often result in not having enough time to physically go to the shops to buy presents or gifts. This is where we all thank the advances of technology and use the internet to carry out this task.

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