Peers and clients say:
“He is a highly regarded forensic accountant”
"Martin has extensive experience working on complex investigations"
“He has worked on many complex and high-profile matters”
Martin Wilczynski is a senior managing director at Ankura based in Washington, DC. Martin has 40 years of professional experience in accounting, internal and forensic investigations. In addition to his nearly 25 years of consulting experience, Martin’s background includes 10 years of auditing experience at an international accounting firm and six years on the staff of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, where he served for five years within the enforcement division.
What attracted you to a career in forensic accounting and investigations?
After 10 years as a Big Four auditor, I discovered accounting investigations when I joined the SEC’s Enforcement Division. It was easily the best career change of my life. Gathering evidence, taking testimony, fairly and objectively considering the big picture and interacting with tremendous colleagues and seasoned defence attorneys made it the best job I ever had. I never knew accounting could be so much fun.
What do clients look for in an effective forensic accountant?
In my experience, clients look for someone who will listen carefully to them, so that a well-tailored plan can be pursued to obtain and evaluate all relevant facts – both good and bad. Only then can the best recommendations and advice be reliably communicated for the benefit of the client. Credibility and experience count.
What challenges has the shift to remote working presented from a forensic accounting standpoint?
Somewhat surprisingly to me, the shift to remote work revealed how resourceful our profession, team members, counsel, clients and regulators could be, and how much work successfully continued to get done notwithstanding the pandemic. That said, there is no replacement for day-to-day, in-person interaction and communication - it will always provide substantial benefits both for the nuanced quality of work product and for the professional development and mentoring of our teams.
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 “types” don’t change much, the basic schemes just continue to recycle themselves and take on new forms. While certain issues like crypto present novel challenges and complexities due to their underlying structure, most fraud schemes have been around forever. The best defences continue to be a pristine tone at the top, well-constructed internal controls, organisational scepticism and vigilance.
Where, in your opinion, does the future of forensic accountancy lie?
From my experience, the future of forensic accounting lies with both the increased opportunities generated by technology and big data, as well as the risks. Information management, web and internal system access, hacking exposure, and data sensitivity have all combined to present huge additional issues that will continue to make technology the single largest area of intersection with forensic accounting. Deep and practical experience in this area will be a tremendous additive benefit to a well-rounded forensic resume.
As a senior managing director at Ankura, what are your main priorities for the firm’s development in the next couple of years?
An important element of Ankura’s current focus is to continue to extend our global capabilities while adding relevant offerings in emerging areas. As a firm that employed fewer than 50 people in early 2016, the fact that we are now approaching a cohesive worldwide firm of 2,000 is remarkable.
How does Ankura distinguish itself from the competition in the market?
Ankura was founded based on the premise that “collaboration drives results”, and that mindset has continued to this day. More than any firm I’ve ever been associated with, Ankura lives its core values and there is a genuine cross-practice desire on every project to strategically involve the best and most relevant resources – wherever they reside within Ankura. This mindset creates more strategic teams and greater efficiencies for the benefit of our clients.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in forensic accountancy?
Supplement your technical accounting and auditing training with a thorough grounding in the additional areas that differentiate and define the practice of forensic accounting. Examples include fraud examination and legal theory, interviewing and expert witness techniques, regulatory practice, criminology, business ethics and internal control structure and remediation. Build a network and develop a speciality and learn from those you work with every day.