7/F Hollywood Commercial House, 3-5 Old Bailey Street, Central
Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Peers and clients say:
"Gwynn possesses a great analytical mind and grasp of the details"
"He has extensive experience of a wide range of novel matters involving many of the most challenging jurisdictions"
"Mr Hopkins is a very good person to have on your side"
Gwynn is regularly appointed by various courts to act as liquidator or receiver of distressed companies; he also acts as an expert witness, submitting affidavits and expert reports for use in court or arbitration proceedings. Gwynn also takes roles such as acting as a consultant or an appointed director or trustee to assist distressed entities. Having led teams for many years as a partner in the Caribbean and Hong Kong, Gwynn has a thorough understanding of both the onshore and offshore aspects of appointments.
What inspired you to pursue a career as a forensic accountant?
I trained at a UK boutique accounting firm that had a strong forensic accounting expert as its senior partner. Even while working as a junior auditor, I got involved in numerous forensic accounting matters covering valuation, asset tracing and account reconstruction disputes. The cases were always interesting and required strong analytical and investigative skills that I enjoyed developing. I continued my career with forensic accounting, which has led to me also becoming an insolvency and restructuring practitioner, working in multiple offshore jurisdictions to undertake challenging assignments.
Name one of your most memorable cases during the pandemic.
We recently concluded a two-year project spanning six jurisdictions. It involved multiple court and arbitration proceedings, a high-value acquisition and numerous complex and interlinked competing interest groups (the members of which were not always on the same side). While we were conducting in-person meetings with our legal teams, all our interactions moved online during the pandemic.
While virtual meetings, testimony and discovery have gained significant traction since 2020, they will continue to remain popular post-pandemic. Before covid-19, video meetings were considered inferior to in-person ones, but the cost savings from reduced travel will remain a negotiation point with clients as travel restrictions ease. That we were able to successfully execute the transaction and sell the underlying investee company to a large private equity fund was a testament to our ability to work in such challenging environments.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a global practice?
Global practices have the obvious advantage of a wider range of markets to access and are less impacted by changes in an individual jurisdiction. With that often comes greater brand awareness that can attract staff and clients. The disadvantage is that the greater scale adds problems with conflict clearance processes, compliance with different (and sometimes contradictory) laws, and maintaining coherence and consistency between jurisdictions for quality control, management processes and implementation of technology.
As Perun’s presence has grown in Southeast Asia, balancing the advantages and disadvantages of increasing international operations is something that’s constantly under review.
What trends are you currently seeing in the restructuring and insolvency field?
We have seen an extensive array of restructuring matters involving companies seeking to avoid or delay looming insolvency proceedings. In a similar vein we have seen a significant increase, in comparison with 2020/21, of debt holders deciding to proactively enforce their rights either via receivership appointments or liquidation applications. In addition, given the increasing distress faced across all markets, there has been a noticeable increase in insolvency proceedings commenced on the basis of the allegation of fraudulent conduct.
How is technology assisting in your ability to make strategic decisions?
Improvements in data analysis software, and the emergence of AI based technologies, help to more rapidly highlight trends, areas for concern needing rectification, and opportunities to develop the firm and better serve our clients. That makes it easier to quickly reach an informed decision on issues such as whether to enter a new market, or to expand a particular service line.
As managing director of Perun Consultants, what are your main priorities for the firm’s development over the next five years?
Bringing up the next generation of appointment takers is an important goal. We have several staff at various stages of their career, who I hope to see gaining their own WWL entries in the years ahead. We will also be expanding in the region as well as investing in staff and systems to ensure that we continue to thrive in the face of the rapid emergence of new technologies and unstable political and economic landscapes in numerous jurisdictions.
What qualities make for an effective forensic accountant in today’s climate?
Technical expertise, aptitude, drive and integrity are essential qualities of a forensic accountant. Their work should masterfully blend analytical and investigative skills and be able to clearly explain to non-accountants the work undertaken. If the outcome of the work can’t be understood by the end user, it’s of no value.