Peers and clients say:
"Daniel has profound experience in forensic accounting investigations"
"Mr Barton provides invaluable evidence in court in relation to fraud and asset recover matters"
"He is a truly tenacious expert"
Daniel Barton is a forensic accountant with more than 25 years of professional experience. He focusses on cross-border investigations involving fraud, bribery and corruption and other ethics and compliance violations. He also has significant experience in hands-on asset recovery and proactive ethics and compliance consulting. Daniel has given evidence as an expert and witness of act in the English High Court, courts in Russia and in arbitration proceedings.
What inspired you to pursue a career as a forensic accountant?
I didn’t know what a forensic accountant was when I began my professional career. I started in the Insolvency practice of, what was then, a Big Six accounting firm. Through doing insolvency work I began to do investigations into the conduct of company directors, which I really enjoyed. I then found that there was a whole department doing forensic accounting and investigative work so I quickly managed to get an internal transfer.
What do clients look for in an effective forensic accountant?
To be an effective forensic accountant you have to be able to combine the professional and technical skills with great client service.
How has the role of a forensic accountant changed since you first started practising?
Much of the role has remained the same in that a forensic accountant has always been expected to analyse and explain complex issues in a way that the client and others can understand. What has developed over time is the breadth of skills and experience that have come to be expected of forensic accountants and the volumes of data that need to be processed and understood.
What new types of fraud have you seen emerge recently? How are you ensuring that you and your clients are well-equipped to tackle the forensic challenges they pose?
Fraud in itself hasn’t changed much, but the ways and means by which it is perpetrated are continually evolving. For instance, many people will be familiar with the introduction of ESG reporting requirements (new), which has brought with it claims of greenwashing and other fraudulent misrepresentation (not new). I have invested time in becoming a certified sustainability professional so that I can detect and prevent misreporting of ESG issues and also proactively advise clients on how to properly manage an ESG reporting programme.
How is technological innovation changing your approach to forensic accountancy?
We continue to embrace and be early adopters of new technologies that assist forensic accounting reviews, whether that be technology assisted review and continuous active learning on data reviews, or other tools for managing large volumes of information.
How important is it for forensic experts to have multidisciplinary expertise in accounting, financial evaluation and corporate finance matters?
I mentioned earlier the need for a breadth of skills and experience but it is also fine not to become all things to all people. What is absolutely key is to be truly expert in the areas in which you hold yourself out to be. One of the great things about working on forensic accounting projects is that it is most commonly a team effort. As long as the team covers all of the required areas of expertise then we can provide the advice, suggest the options or make the recommendations in relation to the specific issue that the client is looking to us to assist with.
What makes Alvarez & Marsal stand out from its competitors in the market?
The single most important thing, in my view, is our surgical approach to scope. I focus on the core issue and expand only if the findings justify it, rather than starting wide and narrowing. This has a material impact on time and costs for clients whilst also giving them comfort that the matter has been expertly assessed.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in forensic accountancy?
Get a good night’s sleep, you are going to need all your energy.