Peers and clients say:
"Julian is excellent in all that he does"
"He is outstanding at managing some of the largest fraud investigations taking place"
Julian Jones is a managing director with the Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) global disputes and investigations practice in London. He brings over 25 years of experience in forensic accounting engagements, advising clients in complex investigations in the white-collar, cross-border and regulatory arenas, and provides expert witness services on accounting and quantum-related issues. Mr Jones is a member of A&M’s European Executive Committee on forensic disputes and investigations.
Describe your career to date.
Initially, I started out as a mechanical engineer, but switched to accounting shortly after graduating to train and qualify as an auditor with Coopers & Lybrand. Linked to an audit, I uncovered a fraud, and moved into the forensic accounting world some 25 years ago. Initially I remained with this Big Six firm (there were six at the time) conducting forensic work, before working in leadership roles at two boutique niche forensic accounting firms. I then joined A&M, and for the past 10 years have led the European forensic team, which has grown to over 100 professionals across six countries. Recently, I stepped back from the European leadership role to focus fully on client work, and have been very busy on such work ever since.
How has the market changed since you first started practising?
The market has evolved significantly over those 25 years. Firstly, the Big Six firms became the Big Four firms, reducing the number of large firms with forensic practices. Unsurprisingly, more and more niche players, often backed by private equity, have been entering the market over that time and increasingly so more recently. Lastly, a series of American professional services companies with a wider focus than just forensic (such as A&M) entered the forensic markets to complement their wider focus.
What are the main challenges for enforcement agencies in your jurisdiction?
There are so many challenges that the enforcement agencies face. To my mind the main challenges are linked to the resource and financial constraints that they operate under. Adversaries often engage sophisticated legal teams to represent them, and as such each case will be subject to challenge (procedural and factual) throughout the duration. This inevitably means that cases will be long-running, with multiple aspects, and be so costly and time-consuming. As such the agencies need to be funded and resourced against this realistic assessment of what the cases involve.
How do you ensure you are equipped to face the challenges posed by handling large volumes of data in investigations?
Having an in-house capability to provide a combination of sophisticated forensic technology, complex data analytics, cybersecurity and data privacy expertise is now an essential feature required within many investigations. This is linked to the requirement to handle large volumes of data, and whatever type of information that data might include. Our resources in these areas have expanded significantly over the past 12 months, and will continue to expand over the coming 12 months.
You have been involved in a number of high-profile cases. Which cases stick most in your mind and why?
Two cases stick out for me. They are the Parmalat and Lehman Brothers matters, each of which absorbed four years of my working life. Parmalat stands out for the audacity and scale of the fraud, and the methodologies they adopted. It was also my first experience of the US deposition process, with one notable deposition having three interpreters: one for us, one for the person being deposed and one neutral interpreter in case of disputes. It was a very long deposition. Lehman Brothers stands out for the scale and complexity of what was hopefully a once-in-a-lifetime event in the financial services sector. I feel lucky to have been with A&M over that time, and in a position that gave me great insights into the internal workings of a major investment bank, as well as the complexities and challenges that arose from the manner in which it collapsed and its division into separate competing estates across the globe and an “unconscionable waste of value”.
How is technology currently revolutionising the nature of corporate investigations?
To my mind, technology is not so much revolutionising the nature of corporate investigations, more changing the methodologies and processes used to conduct such corporate investigations. The nature of what people do is largely the same, with some added complexity around digital techniques, digital footprints and digital evidence – but at the end of the day, what still stands are the same basic questions in one form or another. Where did the money go? Who did what? When did they do it? Why did they do it?
What do you enjoy most about your role as a member of the firm’s executive committee of disputes and investigations?
Working closely with ambitious, intelligent and hard-working people while debating high-level strategic issues to help steer the business is the most enjoyable part of the role on the executive committee.
In which direction would you like to steer your practice in the next five years?
Steering the practice, and the direction of the wider A&M firm, to be seamless in the execution and delivery of multifaceted solutions to meet the clients’ needs is one overriding objective. There are so many crossovers between the different A&M practices (turnaround, transaction advisory, restructuring, insolvency and regulatory) that ensuring forensic is at the heart of these complementary solutions is the direction of travel.